Rorkes Drift.docx - Rorkes Drif Rorkes Drift is one of the most amazing and significant places in South African history being the place where the human

Rorkes Drift.docx - Rorkes Drif Rorkes Drift is one of the...

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Rorkes Drif Rorkes Drift is one of the most amazing and significant places in South African history, being the place where the human spirit won out during the Zulu-British war. There were many heroes on that day, most of them unsung, even though there were 11 Victoria Crosses awarded for the action on that day. The bulk of the British forces crossed the Buffalo river into Kwazulu wanting to defeat the Zulu nation once and for all. A small garrison of men were left behind to guard and assist the sick and wounded in a building that had been annexed as a hospital. The rest, led by Chelmsford, the battle of Isandlwana took place, to the utter defeat of the British. Little did they know, that was only about half of the Zulu fighting force. James Rorke, an Irishman, bought his 3000-acre farm from the colonial government in 1849. This incorporated a natural ford of the Buffalo River, forming the border between Zululand and Natal. Traders had used this natural crossing point for years, but Rorke flattened the steep riverbanks, making the drift more accessible, in the hopes that the Zulu nation would cross over and trade with him. The Irishman became friendly with the Zulus and they fondly knew him as ‘KwaJimu’ or Jim’s place. He became fast friends with the local Zulu chief, who was often seen in resplendent Harris tweed and with an English shotgun in the crook of his arm. This would inevitably change, and when Rorke died in 1875 his family moved to Mooi River and the trading post passed into the hands of a Swedish Missionary by the name of Otto Witt. In 1877, a new British High Commissioner, Sir Bartle Frere, landed in Cape Town and was determined to make a stable confederated state of South Africa. The Transvaal was successfully annexed, albeit briefly and all that stood in his way was the 40 000-strong Zulu nation. A well trained and determined people who were nit going to give up their homeland.

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