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Battlefields History

Hill of Execution once scavenged by vultures


When the railway was built along the coastal belt to Golela on the Swazi border, a siding was laid out at a place named Mtubatuba. Development was stimulated by large-scale planting of sugar cane in the area, and the deconstruction in 1916 of a crushing mill at nearby Riverview. The name Mtubatuba comes from the chief of the local section of the Zulu nation. He was given the name, which means 'he who was pummelled out', on account of the difficulty the midwives experienced at his birth.

This village is a colourful little trading centre, with much bustle in the streets on Friday afternoons and Saturdays, when rural people come to do their shopping. There are large plantations of eucalyptus trees in the area and roads branch off east to Lake St. Lucia and west to Hluhluwe Game Reserve, Umfolozi Game Reserve, and Nongoma.


Kwazulu is not an area for coastal resorts. The beaches shelve steeply and there is little protection against sharks. At Mtunzini ('the shady place') there is one pleasant, protected resort on a fine beach with a backdrop of coastal forest. John Dunn, the famous white chief had his holiday home at Mtunzini. Here are forest-covered dunes with bush trails, small lakelets, and a spacious lagoon at the mouth of the Mlalazi River. In 1948 some 900 hectares of this coastal area were proclaimed a nature reserve. The reserve contains bush pig, reedbuck, blue and grey duiker and crocodiles. Birds and plant life are prolific, and the rare palmnut vulture breeds here. There is a hotel at Mtunzini and a caravan park and camping ground in the Umlalazi Nature Reserve. Chalets may also be hired.


On the northern (Kwazulu) side of the valley of the Tugela River a dense forest grows along the sides of the precipice. To the Zulus it is known as Nkandla ('a place of exhaustion'). Even the modern road penetrates this forest with difficulty, for its topography is extremely rugged and the vegetation dense. Leopards bushbuck, blue and grey duikers, monkeys and birds inhabit the forest, and its plant life is spectacular, with ferns, creepers, lianas orchids and tall trees. In the centre of the forest is a deep gorge hemmed in by cliff faces more than 600 metres high. A stream, the Mome ('the drainer'), tumbles into this gorge in a long waterfall, and then flows beneath the trees to join the Tugela. In this remote valley, Cetshwayo found refuge during the incessant fighting after the Anglo Zulu War. He died on 23 April 1884 and was buried here. His grave is mush revered by the Zulus.

In 1906 the Mome gorge became the stronghold of Bambata, chief of the small Zondi group, who led a revolt against European government, especially objecting to the payment of taxes. Many other dissidents joined him in this revolt, and the Nkandla Forest was the scene of a bitter little war. Government forces tried to pin down the rebels, but Bambatha and his men proved elusive.

After several vicious struggles, the government force trapped Bambatha and his men in the deep valley on 10 June 1906. Bambatha's men fought in the stream, hid in pools and scrambled up rapids, but he and 500 of his follower were killed. The village of Nkandla lies at the edge of the forest. It is a small administrative and trading centre.


In 1887 the Administrative centre of Nongoma was established high in the hills of north-western Zululand (now Kwazulu). The site of this place was known to the Zulu's as KwaNongoma ('mother of songs'), the name of the royal homestead of King Zwide, chief of the Ndwandwe. Nongoma lay between the territories of the two great rival factions of the Zulus – the uSuthu and the Mandlakazi – and the government hoped that the establishment of the centre would put an end to the interminable fights and outrages of the period. In June 1888 Nongoma was destroyed by the uSuthu, but later rebuilt. Today it is a busy trading village serving a large part of Kwazulu.

Richards Bay

The Mhlatuze ('forceful') River received its name because of the power of its floods, which sweep down in summer with destructive strength. The river reaches the sea in a spacious, deep lagoon which is the home of hippos and aquatic birds. The lagoon covers 3 000 hectares and has a channel leading to the sea. During the Anglo-Zulu War (1879) the British navy had to land stores on the coast and there was a search for suitable sites. Among the places surveyed was the lagoon of the Mhlatuze. The entrance was named Richards Bay after Admiral Sir F. W. Richards, the officer in command of the West Africa station of the Royal Navy.

No development took place at the time, but on several occasions in later years there were new surveys and plans for the building of a harbour. Meanwhile a holiday resort grew up on the northern side of the lagoon. Offering good fishing and boating. Huberta the wandering hippo began her adventures from the Mhlatuze lagoon in 1928. The largest recorded South African crocodile was shot in the lagoon by John Dunn in 1891. It was 6,7 metres long.

In 1935 the Richards Bay Game Sanctuary was created to protect the wildlife in and around the lagoon, and in 1943 the Richards Bay Park was established on 400 hectares of the shores to conserve the plant life. After World War II, the development of South Africa made the creation of a new deep-water harbour essential for the export of metal ores on large bulk carriers and to provide services for supertankers. Durban harbour was already congested with cargo and could not offer the deep water needed for mammoth vessels.

The Richards Bay harbour was opened in 1976. An electric railway was constructed to link the new harbour with the mines of the interior. An oil pipeline links the tanker terminal with the Witwatersrand. An aluminium smelter and a fertilizer plant have large deposits of titanium are being mined in the sands close to the bay. A village, established on the shores of the lagoon in 1854, became a town in 1969. Today Richards Bay is a fast growing municipality, with all the facilities and amenities of a growing town.


When Cetshwayo became king of the Zulus on 1 September 1873 he created, as was customary, a new capital for the nation. He decided to name this new capital uluNdi ('the high place'), usually called Ulundi by Europeans. On 4 July 1879 the British army captured Ulundi and burned it down. This was the final battle of the Anglo-Zulu War and the plain on which it was fought is still littered with cartridge cases, spent bullets and other relics. A memorial has been erected on the site. A new Ulundi is now being built as the capital for Kwazulu ('place of Zulu').

Umfolozi Game Reserve

The Mfolozi ('zigzag') River is so named because of its complex course through the hills of central Kwazulu. In its middle reaches the river divides into two: the Mfolozi emnyama ('Black Mfolozi') to the north and the Mfolozi emhlophe ('White Mfolozi') to the south. The colour differences are due to the soil through which the two rivers flow before they unite. Where the rivers converge there is a tongue of land 50 000 hectares in extent, which is among the loveliest bush country in Kwazulu, backed in the north bu a high ridge of hills.

This area between the two rivers has always been frequented by wild animals. It is classic savanna country. The grazing is rich, the climate – warm to hot, with ample water – suited to most African mammals. Hunters were for long kept out of the region by tsetse flies. Rhinos in particular liked the area and long after they had been hunted almost to the point of extinction in the rest of Africa, this area remained a sanctuary for both the black and the white species.

In 1897n the Umfolozi Game Reserve was proclaimed. This and the Hluhluwe reserve were to be permanent game sanctuaries, particularly for white rhino, then on the list of endangered species. Unfortunately, however, a serious problem problem arose. Zululand, as it was then called, was becoming settled by European farmers. They acquired land cheaply around the game reserves of Umfolozi and Hluhluwe, but when they introduced livestock into the area they suffered heavy losses owing to the disease of nagana, carried by the tsetse fly.

A campaign began to have all game animals destroyed – by killing the game, it was argued, the tsetse would be deprived of nourishment, and it would be deprived of nourishment, and it would be eliminated. Thus large, desirable area would be open to human settlement. Conservationists found themselves very much on the defensive. Farmers, politicians and veterinary experts were determined to destroy the remaining wild animals in Zululand. The reserves had never been opened to tourists and scorn was poured on any suggestions that future generations would take a dismal view of their wanton destruction, or that more profit and pleasure would come from them as game reserves than from the establishment of a few additional cattle ranches.

Umfolozi was regarded as an experimental area in the war against the tsetse fly. A research station was established here in 1921 and a long and controversial struggle began to eradicate the fly. The story of this anti-tsetse campaign makes sad reading. About 100 000 animals were slaughtered in the reserve before the lunacy of the campaign became apparent and the introduction of DDT spraying in 1945 effectively eradicated the fly. Even at the height of the slaughter, however, white rhinos were preserved, and today a population of about 1 000 is maintained.

The surplus – beyond the carrying capacity of Umfolozi and Hluhluwe – is distributed annually to other reserves and zoos throughout the world. There are also many black rhino, as well as lion, giraffe, buffalo, leopard, bushbuck, zebra, blue wilde- beest, waterbuck, red and grey duiker, steenbuck, mountain reedbuck, klipspring, impala, kudu, nyala, warthog, spotted hyena and black-backed jackal. Cheetah have also been re-established in the Umfolozi Reserve. The lions of Umfolozi have a unique story. By the beginning of the 20th century it was thought that they had been totally eradicated form this region.

Then in 1958 a solitary male lion wandered south from Mocambique into the bush of Tongaland. What motivated its travels is unkown. It continued on its way south for 350 killometres, crossing well-populated farming country, slaughtering a few head of cattle for food, and being tracked and hunted by the usual band of trophy hunters who sought the questionable honour of shooting 'the last lion of Zululand'. The lion outmanoeuvred all pursuers and, by a miracle, found itself safe in the Umfolozi Game Reserve, stocked with fat antelope which had not seen a lion for generations.
After a few years of celibacy the lion as joined by a bevy of females under mysterious circumstances and about 40 lions now keep the population explosion of game animals in Umfolozi under control. The reserve is open throughout the year. There is a hutted camp, a game-viewing hide at one of the main drinking pools, a network of roads and 24 000 hectares of wilderness area where parties are escorted on three-day walks, camping at night in the bush.

Bird life include night heron, wood stork, Wahlberg's eagle, Shelley's francolin, black-bellied korhaan, Temminck's courser, Klaas's cuckoo, little bee-eater and crested barbet.

The Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to Southern Africa. Pages 359-363. The Reader's Digest Association South Africa (Pty) Limited. 1986. ISBN 0 947008 17 9


Corporate Social Responsibility

  • ikhaya likababa house of the father abandoned babies home south africa empangeni kwazulu natal umhlathuze

    "Abandoned Babies Home"
    iKhaya LikaBaba is an organization based in uMhlatuze, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. 
    The name iKhaya likaBaba is an isiZulu phrase which means "House of the Father".
    Tel:  +27 35 791 1116