Episode 93 –Shaka survives an assassination attempt and Farewell gets Port Natal

Shaka met Henry Francis Fynn and Lieutenant Francis George Farewell in August 1824 and the traders were seeking his permission to live and work at Port Natal. Cape Governor Lord Charles Somerset had rejected Farewell’s request he annex the region, so that was the only option left for the traders.

In episode 92 I explained how the amazulu reacted to Fynn and Farewell, how their horses in particular were a shock.

The dress code was also a surprise, although their skin colour seemed less of a surprise. These Englishmen by now had been burnt brown by months in the African sun, so there was not much made of their skin colour by the oral history tellers, they were more interested in what the Europeans were wearing.

And as you heard, Shaka was able to talk to these traders because of the amaXhosa convict Jacot Msimbithi who was translating. The only problem was, he was not very good at his job.

Hlambamanzi as he was known to the Zulu, Swim the Seas, mangled English meaning.

However Shaka immediately grasped a few important facts from Msimbithi as they conversed in isiZulu – which is similar to isiXhosa. Firstly, he knew that the traders carried guns and these weapons would be useful. The visitors were also part of a much broader trading powerhouse, Shaka understood that too.

He had heard of the power of the British and wanted to approach the empire, he was not into going to war against them although from his comments, we know he believed his warriors would defeat British soldiers anyway.

And yet, Shaka quickly realized that using the settlers guns, he could overcome some of the chiefdoms that were still refusing to Khonza him.

He welcomed the traders, conferring on them the title of abakwethu, or people of our house, kinsmen, trusted and close confidents.

Then someone tried to stab Shaka to death with a spear. He survived the assassination attempt.

Farewell rushed to Shaka’s side upon hearing of the incident, along with the master of his sloop the Julia, a man by the name of WH Davis. Somehow, at this point, Farewell managed to convince the Zulu king to grant him a sale of land, which he wrote as “in full possession and perpetuity” for the sole use of Farewell and his heirs.

It was signed by Shaka in a huge scrawl, dated both 7th and 8th of August 1824 – pre-dated in other words and witnessed by Hlambamanzi Msimbithi the translator advisor, Shaka’s uncle Mbikwana and two other high ranking members of his counsel.

But did the document grant Farewell ownership or guardianship?
20 Nov 2022 English South Africa History · Places & Travel

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