King Cetshwayo

  • Anglo-Zulu War
  • 3 mins

By Crusader1307

Cetshwayo kaMpande (simply ‘’Ketswayo’’) was King of The Zulu Nation (and it’s last) – during The Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. His ‘’blood’’ was linked to legendary King Shaka (Step) thru marriage (as was Zulu Custom). A ‘’massive’’ figure at 6’5’’ and 350-pounds, Cetshwayo became King in 1873. He (briefly) stopped the usage of the classic Zulu Battle Tactics and adopted muskets for His Impis (Armies). Many within His realm did not appreciate His diplomatic skills with (what was seen as invading) Boer (Dutch) Settlers, and preferred to remove them by War. Several short term engagements were fought between The Boers and Zulus. Eventually leading to a loose Truce between the two Cultures. But with British occupation and annexation of The Cape Colony (Southern Africa), more and more Settlers flooded into South Africa for rumors of Gold and Diamond Mines (of which there were). Soon, open conflicts were raised with the Zulu. Cetshwayo sent diplomates (of sorts), to treat with The British of The Cape Colony. A boundary was established with ‘’Zululand’’ being North of The Blood River (Natal Frontier). It was widely accepted by both sides, that violation of Zulu Law on Zulu Land were to be dealt with only by Cetshwayo and The Zulus. The British were expected to and over any Zulu transgressors. But soon stories of Cetshwayo’s often cruel punishments to violators – lead to British ecrouchments North of the Boundary Lines. When Britain leveled a series of ultimatums to Cetshwayo on ‘’how’’ to Govern His people, pressure mounted.


The British Government ‘’quietly’’ began to raise local Milita (mostly Boer and Colonials), as a Reserve Force to bolster The British Military presence in South Africa. Cetshwayo too, began to re-adopt the ‘’older method’’ of fighting, favored by His Chieftains. When Cape Colony Administrators threatened Military actions against Cetshwayo in January of 1879, Cetshwayo responded to The British invasion of His Nation with the massacre of British Forces at The Battle of Isandlhwana (1879). Several other set backs to The British Army occurred, but not for long. A massive and determined Force was marching Northward toward Cetshwayo’s ‘’Capital’’ in Ulundi.


Perhaps Cetshwayo’s greatest miscalculation was to not press His victory early on. Due to the need to harvest crops for Winter, a marked lack of supplies and needed Warriors led to Him being unable to increase His numbers as quickly as needed. This, plus the fact The Zulus had no allies, all strained Cetshwayo’s Forces and ability to re-supply. The British took extreme advantage of it’s ‘’technological abilities’’ (for the 19th Century), and would eventually win The War withing 12-months. Cetshwayo was captured at the Battle of Ulundi (1879). Deposed, His ‘’Kingdom’’ would be partitioned and overseen by Great Britain. On various occasions, King Cetshwayo traveled to Great Britain to request audience with Queen Victoria. He attempted several times to be allowed to govern His Kingdom, even promising to become a Protectorate of The Crown. But the war-like traditions of The Zulus were well known (and feared). Despite His command of English (even adopting English dress), The Queen refused to reinstate Him. Although (unofficially), the current Zulu Nation ‘’has’’ a Kingship, it is not recognized to this day. Cetshwayo would die of a heart attack in 1884.