The Heroics of Cetshwayo kaMpande, the Last Great Ruler of the Independent Zulu State

King Cetshwayo KaMpande

If there was any documented paramountcy that shocked the British prestige seriously, then, it is the occurrence of the infamous Battle of Isandlwana in the 19th century. The battle was noted to be the first and greatest that occurred between the Zulu and British in 1879. Closely, about 20, 000 Zulu’s warriors used their traditional muskets, old rifles, assegai iron spears, muskets and cow-hide shields and pulled up an unanticipated attack on about 1,800 troops from British.

Warriors of Zululand

The British had a lot of sophisticated weapons, yet they could not defeat the great warriors of Zulu. Though, Zulu lost about a thousand men after the battle, they put to death over 1,300 troops from the British army. The one and only threat to the British colonial interests was the famous king, Cetshwayo kaMpande, who led the Zulu warriors.

Cetshwayo kaMpande, the last great ruler of the independent Zulu state. The last great ruler of an independent Zulu state assumed power of a state that had virtually decremented during the reign of Mpande, his father. But alongside with his well controlled army of 40,000 to 60,000 men under the influence of his potent military skills and leadership assisted him to bring back the prestige of the Zulu state. His indisputable role which quenched the happening of the Zulu War of 1879 was extraordinarily incomparable.

The Zulus were the migrants who descended to the Southern Africa during the 17th Century from the north. Several years before the war, Britain in 1843 succeeded the Boers as the giant controllers of Natal, which in terms regimented the Zululand, the contiguous kingdom of the people in Zulu, history told. In 1843 when the British took over Natal and Zululand, the father of Cetshwayo kaMpande, Mpande, had the Dingane displaced in 1840, making him the liegeman of the new Boer Republic of Natal.

Cetshwayo was closer to the throne when his father was the king, but he had to put to death many before succeeding or making it. Sadly, In 1856, blood was flowing on the earth’s surface when he, Cetshwayo kaMpande, fought and killed Mbulazi, his brother, the eldest son of his father’s second wife. Umtonga, Cetshwayo kaMpande’s other brother, fled Zululand five years after Mbulazi’s death.

Cetshwayo kaMpande was afterwards seen by all as the de facto heir to his father, Mpande. When Mpande, his father, died in 1872, he ascended the throne with official authorization. During this period of time, the British wanted to create a South Africa federation in the region. The only way through which they could achieve this was to collapse the autonomous African States. The British high commissioner for South Africa, Sir Henry Bartle Frere, tried forcing Cetshwayo in 1878 to dissolve his powerful army of 40,000 to 60,000 men and give up the land. This brought about the invasion of Zululand in 1879 by the Britain. Though the Zulu people tried to defeat the British at Isandlwana, the British in the end defeated the Zulu people at the Battle of Kambula (Khambula) on March 29.

Cetshwayo kaMpande was captured in August by the British and exiled him to London. He was then brought back to rule over part of his former territory in 1883 but soon a fight so dangerous he had to face. Unfortunately, his cousin Zibebu in a civil war that finally or eventually forced Cetshwayo out of the land of Zulu. Cetshwayo, then fled to the British Zulu Native Reserve and on February 8, 1884, at the British administrative centre of Eshowe, he died. The major cause of his death was given as a heart attack, yet the people of Zulu believed that he had been poisoned.

“The doctor who examined him to determine the cause of death suspected that he was poisoned, as he seemed in good health that very morning; he was seen taking his usual early morning walk. He was prevented from conducting a post-mortem inquiry into the King’s cause of death by the relatives of the King when he told them that the procedure of this inquiry would involve dissecting his body. As a result, the doctor certified the cause of death as “syncope, the result of disease of the heart” (Binns, 1963).

Cetshwayo KaMpande, during his days at British Zulu

That sadly end the life of the last independent Zulu king. Three years after his death, the British formally annexed Zululand. It became a part of Natal in 1897 which joined the Union of South Africa in 1910




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