Your own iSandlwana battle

2013-11-02 00:00

FIX bayonets and grab your smartphone.

That’s an order when next visiting the battlefield of iSandlwana thanks to Tourism Radio and Frank Allewell, who have teamed up to produce the iSandlwana Battlefield Guide — a first of its kind for iPhone and Android mobile devices.

“I designed it for the international market — for people who can’t get here — and for visitors to the battlefield,” said Cape Town-based Allewell, a retired building contractor-turned-historian. “A lot of people tell me via the Internet that they read about the battle but just can’t picture it.”

Now they can. “There are coordinates of who was where and what happened. There is a full description of the battle — and you can see where Durnford’s donga is and where the fugitives went. It’s a simple way of experiencing the battle of iSandlwana for yourself.”

The battle was a resounding Zulu victory in which a British imperial force was all but wiped out on January 22, 1879.

The iSandlwana Battlefield Guide, which took Allewell a year to design, breaks down the events of iSandlwana into chronological order, with high quality pictures of the battlefield as it is today, along with portraits of key players and journal entries from many of the men involved — few of whom survived.

The app was launched last Wednesday and already Allewell has fielded inquiries from Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, “and two from France”.

Allewell says his interest in the Anglo-Zulu War was sparked by watching the film Zulu, released in 1964. “The story of 140 men beating off an attack by 5 000 Zulu warriors was as inspiring for me as it was intriguing. I simply had to find out more about the small battle that garnered no less than 11 Victoria Crosses, and my interest eventually expanded to the battle of iSandlwana.”

The battle of Rorke’s Drift will be the subject of Allewell’s next app. “And then I’ll do the battles of Hlobane, Kambula, Ulundi, Gingindlovu — the whole of the Anglo-Zulu War.”

Tourism Radio SA, founded in 2005, provides a variety of mobile travel guides on the iOS and Android platforms as well as a number of white-label travel app solutions.

“Our tourist guides can be accessed by visitors via iPhone and Android,” says Tourism Radio’s Jonathan Meyer. “They then go to an app store like iTunes and download from there.”

Though Allewell acknowledges the app is cheaper than hiring a guide, he is quick to dispel the idea that it might constitute a replacement.

• The iSandlwana Battlefield Guide is available for download on iPhone and Android mobile devices (

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