The establishment of the Anglican Diocese of Zululand has its roots in the visit of Rt Revd John William Colenso, Bishop of Natal, to King Mpande kaSenzangakhona in 1859 to secure his permission for a Zulu Mission. Permission was granted and the King gave Bishop Colenso land at KwaMagwaza for the establishment of a mission station.
In 1860, Bishop Colenso sent the Revd Robert Robertson from Umlazi Mission outside Durban, to start work at KwaMagwaza. After Bishop Colenso was excommunicated by the Bishop of Cape Town, Rev Robertson refused to continue to accept him as his bishop. In 1870 on the 8 May, at the Whitehall Chapel in London, Bishop Thomas Wilkinson was consecrated as the first bishop of the new Diocese. He was given the title of Bishop for the Zulus and the tribes towards the Zambezi.
The Bishop settled at KwaMagwaza. From there he trekked north, establishing missions in Swaziland and in Mpumalanga on his way to Pretoria. The Zulu War of 1879 saw all the mission buildings in Zululand burned to the ground, as well as the annihilation of the British army at Isandlwana. Law and order broke down and KwaMagwaza became a very unsettled area. This resulted in the removal of the Diocesan Centre to Isandlwana. The second bishop, Douglas McKenzie (1880), also made Isandlwana his headquarters and set up a training college there. The Cathedral of St. Michael and All Angels is located in Eshowe.
Today the Diocese of Zululand serves 283 congregations – from the Tugela River in the South to the borders of Mozambique and Swaziland in the North, and inland to the Diocese of the Highveld. Each parish has a number of out stations and the diocese is served both by a large number of committed priests and by the Sisters of the Holy Name, a community of Zulu nuns.