Cetshwayo kaMpande

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Cetshwayo kaMpande
King of the Zulu Kingdom
Cetshwayo kaMpande the king
Photograph of Cetshwayo by Alexander Bassano in Old Bond Street, London
Successor Dinizulu
Born c. 1826
Eshowe, Zulu Kingdom
Died 8 February 1884 (aged 57–58)
Eshowe, Zulu Kingdom

Cetshwayo kaMpande (/kɛˈw./; Zulu: [kǀétʃwajo kámpande]; c. 1826 – 8 February 1884) was the King of the Zulu Kingdom from 1872 to 1879 and their leader during the Anglo-Zulu War (1879). His name has been transliterated as Cetawayo, Cetewayo, Cetywajo and Ketchwayo. He famously led the Zulu nation to victory against the British in the Battle of Isandlwana.

Early life[edit]

Cetshwayo was a son of Zulu king Mpande and Queen Ngqumbazi, half-nephew of Zulu king Shaka and grandson of Senzangakhona kaJama. In 1856 he defeated and killed in battle his younger brother Mbuyazi, Mpande's favorite, at the Battle of Ndondakusuka. Almost all Mbuyazi's followers were massacred in the aftermath of the battle, including five of Cetshwayo's own brothers. Following this he became the effective ruler of the Zulu people. He did not ascend to the throne, however, as his father was still alive. Stories from that time regarding his huge size vary, saying he stood at least between 6 feet 6 inches tall (198 cm) and 6 feet 8 inches tall (203 cm) and weighed close to 25 stone (158 kg).

His other brother, Umtonga, was still a potential rival. Cetshwayo also kept an eye on his father's new wives and children for potential rivals, ordering the death of his favourite wife Nomantshali and her children in 1861. Though two sons escaped, the youngest was murdered in front of the king.[1] After these events Umtonga fled to the Boers' side of the border and Cetshwayo had to make deals with the Boers to get him back. In 1865, Umtonga did the same thing, apparently making Cetshwayo believe that Umtonga would organize help from the Boers against him, the same way his father had overthrown his predecessor, Dingaan.

Reign[edit]

Mpande died in 1872. His death was concealed at first, to ensure a smooth transition; Cetshwayo was installed as king on 1 September 1873. Sir Theophilus Shepstone, who annexed the Transvaal for Britain, was present at Cetshwayo's coronation, but turned on the Zulus as he felt he was undermined by Cetshwayo's skillful negotiating for land area compromised by encroaching Boers.[2] As was customary, he created a new capital for the nation and called it Ulundi (the high place). He expanded his army and readopted many methods of Shaka. He also equipped his impis with muskets. He banished European missionaries from his land. He might have incited other native African peoples to rebel against Boers in Transvaal.

Anglo-Zulu War[edit]

Cetshwayo (called Cettiwayo in the caption of the photo above), in Cape Town shortly after his capture in the 1879 Anglo-Zulu War. He led several victories against the British army early in the War.
Zulu king Cetshwayo in 1878

In 1878, Sir Henry Bartle Frere, British Commissioner for South Africa, began to demand reparations for border infractions. They mainly angered Cetshwayo who kept his calm until Frere demanded that he should effectively disband his army. His refusal led to the Zulu War in 1879. After initial victories, such as the Battle of Isandlwana, the British repeatedly defeated the Zulu armies in the field before finally capturing the Zulu capital at the Battle of Ulundi. After Ulundi was taken and torched on 4 July, Cetshwayo was deposed and exiled, first to Cape Town, and then to London, returning only in 1883.

From 1881, his cause had been taken up by Lady Florence Dixie, correspondent of the London Morning Post, who wrote articles and books in his support.

Later life[edit]

By 1882 differences between two Zulu factions—pro-Cetshwayo uSuthus and three rival chiefs UZibhebhu—had erupted into a blood feud and civil war. In 1883, the British tried to restore Cetshwayo to rule at least part of his previous territory but the attempt failed. With the aid of Boer mercenaries, Chief UZibhebhu started a war contesting the succession and on 22 July 1883 he attacked Cetshwayo's new kraal in Ulundi. Cetshwayo was wounded but escaped to Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal forest. After pleas from the Resident Commissioner, Sir Melmoth Osborne, Cetshwayo moved to Eshowe, where he died a few months later on 8 February 1884, aged 57–60, presumably from a heart attack, though there is the possibility that he was poisoned.[3] His body was buried in a field within sight of the forest, to the south near Nkunzane River. The remains of the wagon which carried his corpse to the site was placed on the grave, and its remains may be seen at Ondini Museum, near Ulundi.

Cetshwayo is remembered by historians as being the last king of an independent Zulu nation. His son Dinizulu, as heir to the throne, was proclaimed king on 20 May 1884, supported by (other) Boer mercenaries. A blue plaque commemorates Cetshwayo at 18 Melbury Road, Kensington.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

A character in the opera Leo, the Royal Cadet by Oscar Ferdinand Telgmann and George Frederick Cameron was named in his honour in 1889.

In the 1964 film Zulu, he was played by Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, his own great-grandson.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Morris, Donald, The Washing of the Spears: A History of the Rise of the Zulu Nation Under Shaka and Its Fall in the Zulu War of 1879, Random House, 1994, pp.190-199.
  2. ^ Martin Meredith, Diamonds, Gold, & War (New York: Public Affairs, 2007), 88.
  3. ^ "Biography of Cetshwayo kaMpande, the last king of an independent Zulu nation". Retrieved 2006-12-17. 
  4. ^ "CETSHWAYO, KA MPANDE, KING OF THE ZULUS (C.1832–1884)". English Heritage. Retrieved 2012-07-01. 
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Mpande
King of the Zulu Nation
1872–1879, 1883–1884
Succeeded by
Dinizulu