Episode 98 – Nandi dies, Zulu diplomats in the Cape & Shaka raids the amaMpondo

With the defeat of the Ndwandwe Shaka had moved to KwaDukuza near the Mvoti River, about 80km from Port Natal – a day and a half’s journey – or two if you were taking it fairly easy. It was a large ikhanda, containing about 1500 huts and accommodating around 3000 amabuthu warriors.

The isigodlo where his women lived was vast, built on elevated ground overlooking the entire ikhanda it was 360 meters long and 35 meters wide and housed probably 200 women in about fifty huts.

Each hut was of large and kept extremely neat and tidy as was the wont of the women of the king. They were arranged around a series of enclosures of different shapes, oval, circular, triangular – the floors hardened earth and compressed cow dung which turns a kind of dark green and smell’s fresh which is kind of hard for people to believe who’ve never lived in a home comprised of this material.

The reason why it was so hard was the earth was from anthills squeezed together with dung – then dried and polished to a glass like consistency that shines like a mirror. It feels like marble, cool to the touch in the shade away from the blazing Zululand sun. It sets as hard as concrete.

Shaka knew that the white traders at Port Natal offered him a form of protection and they represented a form of the future, as contradictory as this sounds to us today. He moved away from the north, away from where the Ndwandwe had predated, away from the Portuguese centre of Delagoa Bay, and closer to Grahamstown, which he knew about, also Port Elizabeth which had been described to him, and Cape Town which had been featuring in Zulu stories for some time.

Along the Thukela, a few kilometers north of Mvoti, lived the Cele, and his favourite induna Magaye kaDibandlela. But something was bothering this Zulu king – it was the ongoing feud between the traders, King and Farewell which I mentioned last podcast.
James King was also showing signs of illness. Farewell and King had by now become part of Shaka’s chiefdoms, he allowed them to develop their own herds, along with Ogle, and Fynn.

This was how it was in Shaka’s time.

He wanted to send a delegation of his induna to visit the British in the Cape and to discuss future ties.The timing, however, wasn’t great. That’s because it was only a few weeks after they were told of this diplomatic mission that Shaka’s mother Nandi died.

This changed everything. She had been managing the zulu king’s domestic arrangements and was central in his life.

She passed away in October 1827, although some report it was August – at eMkhindini umuzi which is part of the kwaBulawayo group of umuzi near Eshowe. It’s about five kilometers from the main homestead.

Still, the important fact is not the exact spot, the what happened afterwards. Nandi was of the Langeni people, and the descendents have many stories of what he did afterwards.
So too do the traders like Fynn and the youngers, Nathanial Isaacs.

Each appears to try to outdo the other in the stories of murder and mayhem.
25 Dec 2022 English South Africa History · Places & Travel

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