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 What's your opinion.

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old historian2

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PostSubject: What's your opinion.   Thu Feb 11, 2010 7:54 pm

Dealing with Disgrace
SA should embrace the past to forge a new futureThe Witness 26th January 2010 Siphamandla Zondi

ON Saturday, South Africa should have commemorated the historic Battle of Isandlwana, which happened 131 years ago. The battle was historic for a number of reasons. It was the most decisive victory against an aggressive imperialist scheme, which Lord Carnarvon had experimented with successfully to bring Canada fully under British control. It also preceded the famous Battle of Dogali where gallant Ethiopians defeated an invading Italian army in 1887.
Of course, the British army returned shortly thereafter to subdue King Cetshwayo's army. The surprise defeat at Isandlwana still changed the course of the mighty imperial army. It was the first famous demonstration of the potency of guerrilla warfare against orthodox military strategy. It thus inspired guerrilla strategies employed by weaker armed forces against stronger opponents from the Bhambatha Rebellion in 1906 to the. armed struggle against apartheid after 1960.
Isandlwana came to mean a place of shame for the coloniser, while the name and the event occupied a pride of place in the hearts and minds of the colonised during and after colonialism and apartheid.

Authorities and historians sought to rewrite this history to minimise the shame encountered, by falsifying the facts of the battle and its outcomes. They sought to rob the event of its historic features and reduce it to just one of many battles that the British army encountered in its victorious march to power over southeastern Africa.
They explained the defeat as an outcome of the fact that the British officers put in charge of the first invasion were of inferior quality. We are told that the commanders were also weak. We are also told that had the British army not chosen a rainy season, they would have not suffered defeat because they would have advanced with greater speed than they did.

Intent on avoiding confronting the pain of history, these South African historians described (and continue to do so today) Cetshwayo's army and its strategies in a manner that suggests that it was inferior, as if to say it could not have won by design, but only by default. They call it an impi, even though the word in Zulu means war and not army. They describe it as a ragged and ill-equipped army.

We are told colonial wars demonstrated that however large and clever a large ragged African militia might have been, it would not match a small contingent of professional European soldiers armed with modern firearms and artillery.
Intent on sanitising the shame of 1879, historians have reduced the commanders of Cetshwayo's army - men of valour such as Ntsbingwayo ka Mahole, Mavumengwana ka Ndlela and Dabulamanzi a Mpande - into mere headmen lacking in military stratagem and unable• to direct even their victorious army. The army's medical men are dismissed as witch doctors, dabbling in barbaric magic that their ragged army so badly needed because it lacked access to the advantages of the modern science of war.
This narrative continues to dominate public discourse on Isandlwana.

The shame of defeat is too strong to swallow for those who consider themselves to be superior to their opponents. The same can be said about how Americans are writing about the ill-fated invasion of Iraq by George Bush Senior, Vietnam and other occasions of shame. The Germans recall Adolf Hitler's short, but brutal reign with disgrace.
Of course, after Isandlwana, Cetshwayo's army was defeated. Should descendants of this army stay in perpetual disgrace? No, we should use the sad memory to build a happier future.

It is wise to use our sad and shameful past to start a new discourse to ensure that history does not repeat itself at our expense. A nation that fails to learn from its history or that avoids confronting it by selectively commemorating events misses a great opportunity to win against any future evil. A divided nation in transition such as ours can use its disgraceful past to solidify its unity and exorcise the ghosts of the past that haunt it.

It commonly occurs that disaster or conflict helps to concentrate the minds of power brokers in society on how best to achieve common aims in a peaceful and co-operative manner. If not for this tendency, the realist image of power brokers constantly tearing each other apart in a permanent battle for power would have long ago completely destroyed the world. I believe that interdependence and co-operation are the way forward in conditions where the basic instinct is for groups to rip each other apart through hatred, arrogance, the rebuilding of the protective laagers of the past, walls of division, and with the obscene wealth of the few and poverty of the majority.
South Africans need to realise that the commemoration of a painful history is. an opportunity not to grandstand or withdraw in shame, but to find innovative ways to forge a new future, determined never again to walk the path of the shadow of death.

Siphamandla Zondi is the executive director of the Institute for Global Dialogue, but writes in his personal capacity.

And a local reply:

Out-of-date Analysis
IN his column headlined "Dealing with Disgrace" (The Witness, January 26) Siphamandla Zondi considers the battle ofIsandlwana and how it has been treated by historians. He writes: "Intent on avoiding confronting the pain of history, these South African historians described (and continue to do so today) Cetshwayo's army and its strategies in a manner that suggests that it was inferior, as if to say it could not have won by design, but only by default."
Though such an interpretation may have prevailed in the past, it certainly doesn't "continue to do so today". Nor has it for some time. John Laband's Rope of Sand (1995) provides an in-depth history of the 19th-century Zulu kingdom, and particularly the 1879 war, from the Zulu perspective. Ron Lock and Peter Quantrill's study devoted to the battle is tellingly titled Zulu Victory (2005). A number of overseas historians have also written on the battle emphasising the Zulu perspective.
Zondi says that historians "Intent on sanitising the shame of 1879 ... have reduced the commanders of Cetshwayo's army - men of valour such as Ntshingwayo ka Mahole, Mavumengwana ka Ndlela and Dahulamanzi ka Mpande - into mere headmen lacking in military stratagem and linable to direct even their victorious army."
Any in-depth reading of the literature on the subject shows that this is simply not the case. For example, Ian Knight's Great Zulu Commanders (1999) stresses the importance of Ntshingwayo and Dabulamanzi.
Zondi claims that the distorted narrative he outlines "continues to dominate public discourse on Isandlwana". It doesn't, except in the mind of Zondi, who appears to have done no reading on the subject for the last 20 years.
His article does a maj or disservice to historians and others working in the tourism and heritage industry such as the late David Rattray ­ who for many years have been saying the exact opposite of what Zondi claims.

STEPHEN COAN Prestbury, Pietermaritzburg.

Source: RDVC
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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: What's your opinion.   Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:14 pm

Quote :
Siphamandla Zondi is the executive director of the Institute for Global Dialogue, but writes in his personal capacity.

He's entilted to his own opinion just as we are. This is just one mans view. Maybe he thinks its correct. I don't agree with it, but that's my opinon.

Dave
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PostSubject: Re: What's your opinion.   Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:36 pm

It’s disrespectful, I know everyone’s entitled to his or her own opinion, but generally the British respect the Zulus. They were brave and we have accepted and appreciated that fact. I have never read any books on the Zulu War which disrespects the Zulu.

sas1
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PostSubject: Re: What's your opinion.   Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:42 pm

Stephen Coan’s reply dealt concisely with the matter. I’m now wondering where Zondi gained his pessimistic views. Could this be an analysis of a schoolboy’s textbook perhaps?

E.H
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24th

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PostSubject: Re: What's your opinion.   Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:07 pm

Guerrilla warfare. I think Mr Zondi is getting confused. Surly he’s talking about the Boer war.
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Mr Greaves

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PostSubject: Re: What's your opinion.   Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:22 pm

Sometimes the ignorance among average Africans about African History is almost unbelievable. Most Europeans are more knowledgeable about Africa’s History as they are encouraged to study the indigenous people of South Africa.

Mr Zondi is probably a very intelligent man. But not when it comes to the History of his country.

G.
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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: What's your opinion.   Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:33 pm

Zondi
Quote :
"historians have reduced the commanders of Cetshwayo's army - men of valour such as Ntsbingwayo ka Mahole, Mavumengwana ka Ndlela and Dabulamanzi a Mpande - into mere headmen lacking in military stratagem and unable• to direct even their victorious army".

Totally un-true. I have never read any book that reflects this.
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90th

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PostSubject: whats your opinion   Fri Feb 12, 2010 1:01 am

hi all.
In regard to Zondi,
I dont think his rantings deserve any further or future comments . I agree with MRG.
cheers 90th.
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PostSubject: Re: What's your opinion.   Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:01 am

Zondi personifies the new breed of rascists in South Africa, in the event of not being able to conduct a reasonable and thoughtful discussion based on fact he/they resort to the mentally moribund concept of the 'race card'.
I treat him with the contempt he deserves.
Thats the end of my contribution on this object of derision.
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PostSubject: Re: What's your opinion.   Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:15 pm

For those like me have never heard of Stephen Coan

Stephen Coan is an assistant editor at The Witness, Pietermaritzburg’s daily newspaper.

Coan was born in London in 1950. After leaving school he joined the British Broadcasting Corporation, first working as a researcher for BBC News before being trained as a film editor.

Coan came to South Africa on a three-month holiday in 1975 and has lived here ever since. He was initially employed by the South African Broadcasting Corporation in Johannesburg before joining an independent film production company. During this time he also edited news footage for various international television networks.

During the Eighties he worked as a writer-director in film, television and the theatre. His production of the play Stevie by Hugh Whitemore about the poet Stevie Smith - with Dorothy Ann Gould in the title role - won several awards including the Breytenbach Epathlon for best director as well as a Vita award for best production for its run in Durban. Other productions included the Peter Shaffer double-bill The Private Ear and The Public Eye, Tom Stoppard's Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, Stephen Gray's A Night at the Verne's and his own play Kitchen Tea. Coan moved to Pietermaritzburg in 1990 and joined the then Natal Witness - the Natal prefix was dropped in 2004. At The Witness he has been, variously, a feature-writer, sub-editor and arts editor. He is now an assistant editor and senior feature writer. He is known for his writing on literature, history and film.

For many years he has been researching the life and work of Henry Rider Haggard, with particular focus on the years Haggard spent in southern Africa. Coan edited, annotated and wrote a biographical introduction for Haggard’s previously unpublished Diary of An African Journey (2000) and co-edited with Alfred Tella, Mameena and other plays – The dramatic works of H. Rider Haggard (2007). He has also published articles on Haggard in journals such as Natalia and The Journal of the Anglo-Zulu War Historical Society.
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PostSubject: Re: What's your opinion.   Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:11 pm

As I find this subject of great interest, I have been observing the replies on the RDVC as well as our own forum. Rob Oats and posted a reply which raises a valid point. Which in my opinon should create an interesting discussion.

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
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PostSubject: Re: What's your opinion.   Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:42 pm

"Shaka's ruthlessness, at first calculated, grew increasingly uncontrolled. On his mother's death in 1827 he killed thousands for failing to show proper grief, and even banned the planting of crops."

This was just the tip of iceberg, There is an account of what took place on the Death of his mother. (I will dig it out)
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PostSubject: Re: What's your opinion.   Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:58 pm

Dictatorship is not exclusive to the modern world. It is found infrequently in past ages and is epitomize in Shaka’s rule over the Zulu. It is not clear weather the ideological “logic” of modern dictators differs from the seemingly obsessed behaviour of Shaka or certain extreme despots, by characterization, treated citizens as slaves or household labourers.

E.H
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PostSubject: Re: What's your opinion.   Sat Feb 13, 2010 10:40 pm

Quote :
"I appreciate that there is a lack of factual evidence surrounding Shaka.

However, there are clear statements and evidence from several independent sources that give credence to the kind of statistics about Shaka's period.

One of these relates to Mzilikazi Khumalo. Mzilikazi was one of the boldest and most effective commanders in the Zulu ranks. He was responsible for the Western front. It was he that pillaged and looted the central region of South Africa later to become the Transvaal and Northern Free State. Later caught withholding booty from Shaka he was forced into exile finding his way to what is now Zimbabwe.

A large number of white hunters who gained hunting permission from him have recorded the way he operated and by extrapolation the way the Zulu operated. They recorded that in Zimbabwe that the Matabele raids into the Shona areas of the North and Eastern regions reduced an existing population of around 1.5m people to 0.5m people in the period 1850 to 1890. Similar accounts are recorded for the central regions of South Africa.

Therefore based on these observational accounts by people who had no real reason to lie and were independent witnesses, I am far more inclined to believe these first hand accounts than the word of mouth accounts of descendants. We all know how events and facts are distorted by awe and pride.

Many works like this are written for an audience and are designed to sell because they are commercial. It's not an academic work and is prepared for an audience that wants to hear this story."


With regards to Rob’s last post on the RDVC. I would pre-empt that will be the end of that debate.
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PostSubject: Re: What's your opinion.   Sun Feb 14, 2010 1:30 pm

Just a simple question.
Would Shaka have the knowledge about the workings of military tactics used by the Roman’s

And doe's anyone have any information on hill called Qokli. Something happen there involving Shaka.
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PostSubject: Re: What's your opinion.   Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:21 pm

Extract from a member on the RDVC. (Edited By Admin)


"In recent times the German chancellor made a public apology for the horrors of the holocaust and atrocities of WWII. There have been calls for Japan to do the same re the death camps in the Far East. Personally I'd like a public apology from the King of Zululand for the wholesale slaughter at Isandhlwana in which I lost a relative, for the outrageous murder of the wounded, sick, and non-combatants, and the failure to take any British soldiers prisoner.

If modern RSA black politicians want to play the 'colonial' card and feign mock horror at the behaviour of nineteenth-century Britons, then I can feign mock horror at the 'barbarianism' of nineteenth-century Zulus. They can't have it both ways."

I cannot believe he has said this. The British invaded the land of the Zulu without good reason. What did he want, the Zulus to shake hands with the British at Isandlwana.
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PostSubject: Re: What's your opinion.   Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:49 pm

You need to understand what the member of the RDVC is saying.

"If modern RSA black politicians want to play the 'colonial' card and feign mock horror at the behaviour of nineteenth-century Britons, then I can feign mock horror at the 'barbarianism' of nineteenth-century Zulus. They can't have it both ways."
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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: What's your opinion.   Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:50 pm

Look's like i jumped the gun there. (I see his point now. Thanks Admin. )
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