Images de page
PDF
ePub

At his camp in the neighbourhood of Greyton I bade adieu to the Governor and his companions and went back to Pieter Maritzburg by the mail cart. I had quite convinced myself that the people whom I had seen during my little tour had done well in settling themselves in Natal, and had prospered as Colonists, in spite of the dog tax and the wickedness of the Zulus to the unfortunate owner of the top boots.

CHAPTER XVII.

The Zulus.

UPON entering Natal we exchange the Kafir for the Zulu,-who conceives himself to be a very superior sort of man-not as being equal to the white man whom he reverences, but as being greatly above the other black races around him. And yet he is not a man of ancient blood, or of long established supremacy. In the early part of this century,-beyond which I take it Zulu history goeth not, there was a certain chief of the Zulus whom we have spoken of as King Chaka. To spell the name aright there should be a T before the C, and an accent to mark the peculiar sound in the Kafir language which is called a click. To the uninstructed English ear Chaka will be intelligible and sufficient. He was King of the Zulus, but the tribe was not mighty before his time. He was a great warrior and was brave enough and gradually strong enough to "eat up" all the tribes around him; and then, according to Kafir fashion, the tribes so eaten amalgamated themselves with the eaters, and the Zulus. became a great people. But Chaka was a bloody tyrant and if the stories told be true was nearly as great an eater of his own people as of his enemies. In his early days the territory which we now call Natal was not inhabited by Zulus but by tribes which fell under his wrath, and which he either exterminated or assimilated, --which at any rate he "ate up." Then the Zulus flocked into the land, and hence the native population became a

Zulu people. But Zulu-land proper, with which we Britons have no concern and where the Zulus live under an independent king of their own, is to the North of Natal, lying between the Colony and the Portuguese possession called Delagoa Bay.

It may be as well to say here a few words about the Zulus on their own land. I did not visit their country and am not therefore entitled to say much, but from what I learned I have no doubt that had I visited the nation I should have been received with all courtesy at the Court of his dreaded Majesty King Cetywayo,—who at this moment, January, 1878, is I fear our enemy. The spelling of this name has become settled, but Cetchway-o is the pronunciation which shews the speaker to be well up in his Zulu. King Chaka, who made all the conquests, was murdered by his brother Dingaan * who then reigned in his stead. Dingaan did not add much territory to the territories of his tribe as Chaka had done, but he made himself known and probably respected among his Zulu subjects by those horrible butcheries of the Dutch pioneers of which I have spoken in my chapter on the early history of the Colony. The name of Dingaan then became dreadful through the land. It was not only that he butchered the Dutch, but that he maintained his authority and the dread of his name by the indiscriminate slaughter of his own people. If the stories told be true, he was of all South African Savages the most powerful and the most savage. But as far as I can learn English missionaries were safe in Zulu-land even in Dingaan's time.

Then Dingaan was murdered and his brother Panda

* He was murdered either by Dingaan or by another brother named Umolangaan who was then murdered by Dingaan. Dingaan at any rate became Chief of the tribe.

became Chief.

Neither Chaka or Dingaan left sons, and there is extant a horrible story to the effect that they had their children killed as soon as born, thinking that a living son would be the most natural enemy to a reigning father. Panda was allowed to live and reign, and seems to have been a fat do-nothing good-natured sort of King, -for a Zulu. He died some years since,—in his bed if he had one, and now his son Cetywayo reigns in his stead.

Cetywayo has certainly a bad reputation generally, though he was till quite lately supposed to be favourable to the English as opposed to the Dutch. When dealing with the troubles of the Transvaal I shall have to say something of him in that respect. He has probably been the indirect cause of the annexation of that country. In Natal there are two opinions about the Zulu monarch. As the white man generally dislikes the black races by whom he is surrounded and troubled in South Africa,— not averse by any means to the individual with whom he comes in immediate contact, but despising and almost hating the people,-Cetywayo and his subjects are as a rule evil spoken of among the Europeans of the adjacent Colony. He is accused of murdering his people right and left according to his caprices. That is the charge brought against him. But it is acknowledged that he does not murder white people, and I am not at all sure that there is any conclusive evidence of his cruelty to the blacks. He has his white friends as I have said, and although they probably go a little too far in whitewashing him, I am inclined to believe them when they assert that the spirit of European clemency and abhorrence from bloodshed has worked its way even into the Zulu Court and produced a respect for life which was unknown in the days of Chaka and Dingaan. It is no doubt the case that some of the missionaries who had been settled in

Zulu-land have in the year that is last past,-1877,-left the country as though in a panic. I presume that the missionaries have gone because two or three of their converts were murdered. Two or three certainly have been murdered, but I doubt whether it was done by order of the Chief. The converts have as a rule been safe, as have the missionaries,—not from any love borne to them by Cetywayo, but because Cetywayo has thought them to be protected by English influence. Cetywayo has hitherto been quite alive to the expediency of maintaining peace with his white neighbours in Natal, though he could afford to despise his Dutch neighbours in the Transvaal. It has yet to be seen whether we shall be able to settle questions as to a line of demarcation between himself and us in the Transvaal without an appeal to force.

When I was at Pieter Maritzburg a young lady who was much interested in the welfare of the Zulus and who had perhaps a stronger belief in the virtues of the black people than in the justice of the white, read to me a diary which had just been made by a Zulu who had travelled from Natal into Zulu-land to see Cetywayo, and had returned not only in safety but with glowing accounts of the King's good conduct to him. The diary was in the Zulu language and my young friend, if I may call her so, shewed her perfect mastery over that and her mother tongue by the way in which she translated it for me. That the diary was an excellent literary production, and that it was written by the Zulu in an extremely good running hand, containing the narrative of his journey. from day to day in a manner quite as interesting as many published English journals, are certainly facts. How far it was true may be a matter of doubt. The lady and her family believed it entirely,-and they knew the man

« PrécédentContinuer »