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USUTHU! The Final War Cry
by Sidney Robbins
Of the many colonial campaigns during the Victorian era, few have gripped the imagination more than the Zulu War of 1879. Among military and colonial history enthusiasts its fascination has few equals.
Even though over 130 years have passed, there can be few who are not aware of the annihilation of a British column at Isandhlwana by the great Zulu military machine; the heroic defence of Rorke's Drift by its tiny garrison; or the tragic death of the Prince Imperial of France.
Underpinning these and other actions was the astonishing resistance of a warrior nation armed chiefly with spears and shields - a nation of whom Disraeli said: 'They defeat our generals; they convert our Bishops and put an end to a great European dynasty.'
But the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879 had tragic consequences. Zululand was plunged into civil war; the Zulu nation lost their king and most of their land. There were also grievances resulting from the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902. In this climate of simmering discontent the Natal Colony needed only a spark to set it ablaze.
The imposition of the poll tax in 1905 provided that spark, and the colony exploded into civil rebellion – this was the Natal Rebellion of 1906. This is a forgottten war. Nevertheless, it is a sequal to the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879, and many historians state that it was also a direct result of the outcome of the Anglo-Zulu War.
This is the true story of a white man and a Zulu, who grew up as blood brothers, but who found themselves on opposing sides in the rebellion.
It was the last time the Zulu nation, armed with assegais, fought a modern army - and the last time the ‘Usuthu!’ war cry was ever used in battle by a Zulu force.
The author's uncle, Bartle Robbins, was in the Natal Carbineers and followed Colonel McKenzie's charge that led to the massacre at Mome Gorge. He also knew one of the main scouts, Elias Titlestad, who traded and farmed adjacent to him in the Qudeni district. There were also many veterans, both white and Zulu, who were great sources of information, and whose reminiscences of that period he valued greatly. One in particular was Gabajana, his father's Induna, who fought on the Zulu side. His input was invaluable.
This is the story of 'the forgotten war' and is a truly epic work of 'historical fiction'