Episode 83 – The amakhosikazi sipper of Cobra venom and the 1820 Settlers
Zwide was sitting at his mother’s umuzi called eziKwitshini during the battle, awaiting word. And when it came it was not what he was expecting. As you heard in episode 82, the dust cloud signalling approaching warriors were not his victorious Ndwandwe, they were the revengeful Zulu Mbelebele ibutho seeking to take full toll on Zwide for his decades long attacks south.
Zwide managed to escape out of a door at the back of the isigodlo, and the Zulu impi rolled over the hill into his mother’s umuzi. There is a story about what they found inside the home of Ntombaze, a macabre jumble of things.
First were the rings of brass and the brushes, then hanging on pegs at the back of her hut were human heads, ready for muti. IT shocked even the hardened Zulu warriors who set fire to her hut and the entire umuzi – but then they went further.
IT is said that these men impaled all the children on posts, but were still not satiated. They wanted Zwide dead and tracked him north across the Black Mfolozi, but the trail went cold so the impi turned back. They seized all the cattle they could find and warned all Zwide’s Ndwandwe to throw down their spears and shields or be killed on the spot. Most obeyed and were immediately inducted into Shaka’s army, they had fought well he said.
Shaka reinforced tradition after defeating Zwide by appointing what were known as the grand old ladies, amakhosikazi, to oversee the affairs of the amakhanda. The homes. They ordered men and women about, as the amakhosikazi still do.
They were in charge of the women of the izigodlo and had to be convinced of matters before change was instituted. They were powerful figures who ensured the various rituals were followed, no taboos broken, marriage alliances were properly structured, food and other provisions were stored or collected.
Shaka’s paternal Aunt springs to mind, Mnkabayi kaJama. She was instrumental in bringing Shaka to power, tall and imposing, she was called “the great she-elephant” or an isitubesikazi, a weighty woman who was actually literally a weighty woman. Not obese, but folks would call her bulky.
In July 1819 the British House of Commons voted to sponsor a huge emigration scheme with the vast sum of 50 000 pounds. The idea was for one thousand families to be sent to the Cape – or to the Albany district of the Cape to be more accurate.
It was a miserable time in England, these 1819 and 20s. The industrial revolution was in a transitional phase, men and women who’d expected better had found things worse. Lancashire had almost turned into another country, openly hostile to government and the upper classes, while the aged king George was slipping away in his chamber above the north terrace at Windsor. His imminent death representing the mood of the time.