KwaZulu-Natal is a military history enthusiast’s dream and many of its battlefields have become ‘must see’ sites, several of which are within easy reach of the Drakensberg Experience. They include the Voortrekker / Zulu conflict of 1838 and the Anglo-Boer War of 1899 – 1902.
The Voortrekker / Zulu conflict arose as a result of a major exodus of Dutch speaking people from the Cape Colony to the interior of South Africa. In 1838, one of these parties led by Piet Retief made contact with the Zulu king Dingane kaSenzangakhona to negotiate vast tracts of land. The suspicious king had Retief’s party put to death in February 1838 and unleashed his amabutho (warriors) on the various Voortrekker encampments scattered around the Bushmans and Bloukrans River valleys.
This incident eventually resulted in a retaliatory campaign being launched by the Voortrekkers under the leadership of Andries Pretorius, and the Zulu army was defeated in the epic Battle of Blood River on the 16th December 1838.
The Anglo-Boer War can be linked to the discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand in the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek in 1886, which resulted in an influx of foreigners to seek their fortune. Fearing that their Afrikaner sovereignty was under threat, the ZAR Government made their franchise difficult to achieve and members of the British Government manipulated the situation to suit their needs, and the war began on the 11th October 1899.
Several other sites related to the Langalibalele Rebellion of 1873, the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 and the Transvaal War of Independence of 1880 / 1881 are also within easy reach of the Drakensberg Experience.