Today's adventure was to visit the battlefield at Isandlwana. The less famous of two related battles I the Anglo-Zulu war, The Battle of Isandlwana took place 22 January 1879. Other than the occasional reference by my friends to the battle (for which I had no context), I had never heard of Isandlwana before the planning for this trip began.
In short, a massively outnumbered British force had crossed the Buffalo River into Zulu territory and was destroyed by the Zulu army. In a single day, 1,200 British forces fell to an army armed only with spears. Granted, the size of the opposing armies was greatly disparate; the Zulus numbered 25,000. Even at the three-to-one ratio that the Zulus fell that day, sheer number made it inevitable that the battle was lost before it began.
We had a local man whose great-grandfather had been on the battlefield that day. It was fascinating to hear the stories of what led to the war, what happened that day, and the aftermath. It was moving to be in a place where such a horrific battle took place.
Before leaving, we climbed Isandlwana Mountain to the place where the last of the British troops fell. Kevin had brought some poppies and, it being the week of Remembrance Sunday, he placed a wreath on both the British and Zulu Memorials. It was a very moving day.
Returning to the Isandlwana Lodge, a lovely little hotel overlooking the battlefield, we had a dip in the pool and then dinner and drinks. After a while looking at the stars on the veranda, I turned in with the sounds of the night filling my room.
Wherever you are tonight, I hope you've had a moving experience today.
Don Bergquist – 14 November 2007 – Isandlwana Lodge, Zululand, South Africa