Part 2: KwaZulu-Natal A few months later, we boarded a flight to Durban, for a four-day trip full of interesting and authentic experiences. On the descent to King Shaka Airport, you can see the rolling hills and the fields of sugarcane, fondly nicknamed “green gold” for their lucrative produce; sadly, they are currently ravaged by drought. My idea was to expose our group of family and friends to the influential Zulu culture that existed around my otherwise
Kwa Zulu-Natal: a brief history This part of South Africa was named Natal – derived from the Portuguese word for Christmas – when the explorer Vasco da Gama sailed by in December 1497. A few hundred years passed before the first European settlers, mostly British, arrived and established Port Natal as a trading post. Since the British paid no heed to the interior, whose tribal Zulu inhabitants had been decimated by Chief Shaka (more on him later!), the tough Afrikaner Voortrekker pioneers were able to enter the area over the formidable Drakensberg mountains. The Voortrekkers defeated the Zulus in battle in 1838, and established the short-lived Republic of Natal, only for the British to annexe the territory in 1843. The British colony acquired Zululand after the Zulu War of 1879, before facing Afrikaner forces in the Second Boer War (1899 to 1902). In 1910, the colony became a province of the Union of South Africa, and in 1961 of the Republic of South Africa. When the homeland of KwaZulu (“Place of the Zulu”) was re-incorporated into the province after apartheid ended in 1994, the province was renamed KwaZulu-Natal.
South African-English upbringing in Gingindhlovu, delightfully nicknamed “Gin-gin-I-love-you” by the British army! Our convoy first took the two- hour drive on a road running parallel to the coast, climbing the Eshowe Hills to Fort Nongqayi MuseumVillage (eshowemuseums. org.za). There, the children climbed the battle-weary old cannon and got a feeling for the old trading posts that once supported various colonial military groups in the area.
“My idea was to explore the influential Zulu culture around my otherwise South African-English upbringing”
It was this place where, in my own childhood, I first comprehended the safety afforded by a real fort in times of war; when I looked through the slits from where the rifles were fired, I could see clearly that the enemy stood much less of chance of aiming a bullet through them! From the fort, we drove 30 minutes further to the Valley of Nkwaleni, and to Shakaland (aha.co.za/shakaland). Now a living monument to Zulu culture, it was the set for the acclaimed international TV series Shaka Zulu , made in the 1980s. We opted for an overnight cultural package, which highlighted many of the idiosyncrasies of the Zulus.
Children climbing an old cannon at Fort Nongqayi Museum Village.
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