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The Exploitation of a Massacre to Draw Political Blood

22 August 2012, 11:20

Thomas V. Bulpin

From a beautiful book with photos and descriptions that show a thourough knowledge of our country, titled Southern Africa; Land of Beauty and Splendour, published by The Reader’s Digest, Cape Town, 5th Edition, © 1978, pp. 288, 289 he recounts the Battle of Blood River as follows:

“Any foreigner crossing the Thukela or its principal tributary, the Buffalo, was expected to have the permission of the Zulu king, or face the penalty of death.”

By implication what follows as a punitive expedition was for a justified murder of Retief and his men; as if they crossed into Dingaan’s territory without permission. The fact of history is that this was the second visit of Retief to Dingaan. The promise of land was made (although also with the British setlers at Port Natal), and Retief’s mission was to ratify and record on a formal document Dingaan’s promise. For a man with Bulpin’s knowledge, this history should also be known. But Bulpin was still inciting hatred towards the Afrikaner Whites, using an incident that took place 140 years before this book went to the printing press. Why? Bulpin continues:

“When the voortrekkers set out in search of vengeance for the murder of Piet Retief and his men, the Zulu general Ndlela, was ordered to stop them as they crossed the Buffalo. The Zulu army found the trekkers encamped on the high banks of a tributary of the Buffalo, known from its plentiful water  and verdant banks as the Ncome (praisworthy one). With no experience of attacking a defensive laager of wagons the Zulus were caught in a death trap, on December 1838. The Ncome River was from that day known as Blood River, for the Zulus paid dearly for their courage. They lost not only the battle, but also the home of their traditional fathers, the basin of the Mkhumbane River. Their vcapital, Mgungundlovu (the secret plot of the elephant), was captured and destroyed, and their king, Dingane, driven away to an ignominious death.

“The Zulus long remembered this bitter lesson in tacktics. They were to wait 40 years for vengeance against the white man, but revenge when it came was bloody and complete, beneath the brooding shadow of iSandlwana.”.

Bulpin refers to the battle of 40 years later; a block onthe next two pages. Bulpin’s use of fractional information to distort history is here masterly done. The two armies that faced each other at iSandlwana were that of a Zulu force that was ruled by King Cetshwayo, son of King Mpanda. Mpanda,like Dingane, was also a half brother of Shaka who himself was assasinated by Dingane and two helpers. Further, their enemy was not the voortrekkers, but the British who was in the process of taking possesion of Natal with the same brutality as they did in the Cape.

“Like the shadow of a dark thundercloud, the full Zulu army swept over the veld. The struggle was primeval and savage, but it was also brave and honourable, and if one has to die it is better to die at the hands of men than of cowards.”

 Zulus long remembered this bitter lesson in tacktics. They were to wait 40 years for vengeance against the white man, but revenge when it came was bloody and complete, beneath the brooding shadow of iSandlwana.”.

Once again Bulpin distorts the facts.  The british troop were ill prepared for the battle. Their stocks of ammunition were securely packed away in a crate that was so tightly secured that while attempting to defend themselves with rifles used as clubs, others frantically struggled to open up the crate. The statistics of casualties among the British were more than double the total number of Boers that faught the Zulu army of perhaps well over ten thousand.  

Never before nor after this could it have been claimed that at least three thousand Zulus were killed at the hands of the ancestors of those who two years after iSandlwana in 1881 met a British force that looked down at the unsuspecting Boer kommando under the command of Commandant General Piet J. Joubert.

A British frch under the command of General Sir Pomeroy Colley, Commander –in-Chief and Governor of Natal. Colley occupied the mountain during the night of 26 February with a force of about 600 men. While having the advantage of height above the Boer commando, he was left without the advantage of his Cannons which could not be brought up the mountain slopes. In the morning it was Gen. Joubert’s wife was the first to see the British army and make alarm. Gen. Joubert at once ordered his men to “get them down”.

At 7 a.m. that morning a force of 150 men in three divisions scaled the mountain, moving from ledge to ledge and shooting as they ascended, keeping up a steady and most effective rifle fire, the British discovered that it was they that stood exposed against the bright sky-line. Being wholly untrained in the act of taking cover (also untrained to think for themselves), the British were an easy target. When the Boers reached the summit and Colley was killed, the “brave and honourable” British (according to Bulpin on p. 291 of the book he used to throw another memory fist at the Boers), broke and fled.

It is interesting to note that the well trained British army lost more than 200 men, including their commander-in-Chief as compared to the two casualties on the Boer side. One of the two died some time later of his wounds.

This, the decisive battle of the First Anglo-Boer War. The British forces were defeated everywhere, losing all the battles, they had to surrender. About eighteen years later the British forced the State President of the Tranvaal to declare war, the second Anglo-Boer War. What the British thought would require a brief punitive expedition, they did finally win in a war that became a drawn out three year embarressing war. Their great successes were their brave burnt-earth campaign and the logistical superiority together with a growing number of Afrikaner traitors.    

May the sparp pointed Ammunition be Fired at those who Exploit Blood to Draw Blood

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