South Africa Midlands Day 11

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July 31st 2013
Published: July 31st 2013
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Most of today was taken up with a battlefields tour. Although we didn’t cover much ground – much of the time was spent sitting down listening to our guide Paul – an amazing amount was learnt. Paul was careful to dispel the myths surrounding the famous battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, particularly those perpetuated by Hollywood in the films Zulu and Zulu Dawn. The real stories are in fact far more compelling and based around individuals and how their actions cause wholesale changes in the battles, some for the good; some for the bad. But these are the moments that change history.

There was a sharp contrast between the sheer stupidity and arrogance shown by those in charge at Isandlwana and the bravery and selflessness shown by the few at Rorke’s Drift and the characters were very ably brought to life by Paul.

Our vision today is also clouded by the political fallout at the time, the invasion of the Zulu nation should not have taken place; it was not sanctioned by the UK government, but through over confidence of generals and colonial officials with their own agenda, the invasion of Zululand and the defeat at Isandlwana bought down the UK government.

But that’s enough of the history, this lodge is in the heart of Zulu land and this evening we were treated to a Zulu cultural evening, with dancers and stick fighting and drumming, as well as explanations of the Zulu culture and rituals. The women were not impressed at the Zulu tradition where it is always men first, for example women are only allowed to enter the hut once all the men have gone in and the men are served first at mealtimes. In addition to this the women have to do all the heavy work. Our ranger and general host Siyabonga has an ambition to visit the UK but he may have changed his mind when we told him our tradition was ladies first...

We were also treated to a traditional Zulu meal including Zulu beer - well all I can say about it that it is an experience! The meal cooked on the open fire as fantastic and as we sat around the campfire afterwards under the spectacular stars that are visible here with a glass of wine we swapped travel stories and watched the flames dance in the night time. While we sat there a special visitor came to polish off whatever small morsels of food may have been dropped during the meal preparation – a wild cat which we were told was a ginnet, about 50 per cent larger than a domestic cat with a longer snout and a big, bushy, stripy tail.

Tomorrow is our last day here some exploring of the local area is planned for the morning with another game drive in the afternoon.

Oh and the Michael Kane quote: well, after this morning and hearing how inaccurate the film is it now seems even more inappropriate.

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