Welcome to Africanews

Please select your experience

Watch Live



SA: Thousands re-enact historic Zulu victory at Isandlwana

Re-enactment of Battle of Isandlwana   -  
Copyright © africanews

South Africa

Thousands of South African Zulu men gathered at the historic site of Isandlwana on Saturday 21 January to mark the day, in 1879, when Zulus won a decisive victory over the British.

It is one of the greatest triumphs in Zulu history and the only battle in which spears and ox-hide shields annihilated the guns and cannons of the British army.

The event was also addressed by King Misuzulu kaZwelithini.

Zulu warrior, Muzi Nyandeni, said: "In fact we are here to celebrate the conquer of Zulu warriors, where Zulu conquered the white person."

The Zulus were not professional soldiers, but under Shaka Zulu in the early 1800s had became very adept at war. 

John Murphy his a Major in the Royal Welsh Army and took part in thee event. 

"It’s important to commemorate the battle, because it’s such an important part of our history," he said. "And it’s also important to both us and the Zulus and it’s commemorating fallen soldiers. Also reminds the soldiers that are serving now that it’s still important, that you are remembered for a long time. So it’s really important to commemorate this battle."

During the re-enactment many Zulus sang songs and paraded with traditional animal skins, bone necklaces and spears.

Gavin Slater, team leader of The Dundee Diehards re-enactment team, said he recognises how significant the event was. 

"In fact Isandlwana is one of the most probably humiliating defeats of the British army ever," he said.

On 21 January 1879, around 20,000 Zulu warriors attacked the British garrison.

Despite the defenders having rifles, the attackers forced them into a bloody battle and then defeated the colonial soldiers.

Out of 1,700 men at the Isandlwala garrison on the morning of the battle about 1,300 doom lay dead.

Victory is one of the most important sources of pride for Zulus.

View more