What we have learnt about the Zulu culture and the Zulu History has more often than not been described through the eyes of our former colonial masters, it is time for us to reclaim our heritage and rewrite our histories, the purposes of this blog is to examine the Zulu culture and open up debate and dialogue on its importance and impacts today.
A very fascinating story unfolded during the nineteenth century around the same time that Cetshwayo KaMpande was consolidating his power and positioning himself as the heir to the Zulu throne. Isilo uMpande kaSenzangakhona was undecided as to whom he would designate as the future ingonyama of the Zulu people for reasons only known to him. It is said that he at times was in open support of Mbuyazwe, a son of his born of one of his favourite wives Monase. It then happened that a big clash took place between the princes Cetshwayo and Mbuyazwe on the banks of the Thukela river close to a homestead known as Ndondakusuka.
It then happened that during the battle a border agent with the colony of Natal known as Captain Joshua Walmsley and John Dunn a hunter trader under Walmsley’s care sided with Prince Mbuyazwe during the fight which took place on the 2nd of December 1856.
Mbuyazwe came out the worst from this battle as 23000 of our people perished, the area then became known as Mathambo-“The place of bones”.Walmsley spotted a Zulu baby clinging to the reeds in the fast flowing river and decided to save this child and adopt it as his own with his Mauritian wife Maria. They then named this child Nomanzi since she had been found close to the water.
Nomanzi then lived with the Walmsleys as their adopted child and was educated in the ways of a European lady. She learnt how to speak English and French and she could also play the piano. She lived a comfortable life by European standards and Walmsley wanted Nomanzi to eventually be married by a white man. During the time of her early twenties she did flirt with some white men but remained aloof as a lady should.
At about that time she had taken an interest in a Zulu man named Sifile who decided to marry her as soon as he could. The two were madly in love and in spite of the protests of Mr and Mrs Walmsley, Nomanzi agreed to being a Zulu wife in the homestead of Sifile and in consequence left the so called luxury and sophistication of European life.
Sifile ended up paying 20 head of cattle for Nomanzi as Walmsley regarded her as a woman of high birth, however in a few years Walmsley then died and left thirty two cattle for Nomanzi and Sifile therefore blessing their marriage.
A beautiful love story indeed and one that happened in the historical background of nineteenth century Zululand also showing that not all was sour between the Zulu people and their neighbours the British but also proving that not every Zulu hankered after the life lived by the Europeans as is often written on colonial historical accounts.
Information obtained from Zululand True stories by J.C van der Walt.