Cetshwayo kaMpande


Cetshwayo, born around 1825, was the son of King Mpande of the Zulus, and became King himself in Sep 1873. He establish the Royal Kraal at Ulindi, but it was destroyed by the British after the battle. He was ambitious and cunning although illiterate. Physically he was tall (6'6") and well built, until middle age when he tended towards corpulance. The photo shows him in European clothes during his visit to London in 1882. When he was captured his land was divided between 13 chiefs and he was brought to England where he attracted a lot of attention. There were rumours about his dietary and sexual habits. He was dressed up to be photographed at the studio of Alexander Bassano where the scene was described by Lady Wolseley in a letter on 13th Aug 1882:

"Fancy my waiting in Givry's balcony in Bond Street for an hour to see Cetawayo come out of Bassano's? The crowd was so great I was afraid to venture into the street, or I should not have waited so long. I saw him capitally. He rolled majestically across the pavement with a good deal of 'side on'. A boy in the crowd said rather wisely, "His name ain't Getawayo for he can't Getaway", which was quite true. They had to send for more police and hustle him off through Benson's shop to dodge the mob at Bassano's door."

The division of Zululand brought about a civil war and Cetshwayo was reinstated as king in January 1883 in an attempt to bring back some stability. Rival chiefs, however, resenting his power, rebelled against him and he was compelled to seek the protection of the British at Eshowe. There he died suddenly, on 8th Feb 1884 - apparently of a heart attack, although the possibility of his being poisoned cannot be ruled out. His grave is still venerated as a shrine by the Zulu people, to whom he undoubtedly restored prestige to the nation.


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by Stephen Luscombe