Historical Personalities & Issues

Compiled & Edited by Phillip True, Jr.

Chapter Twenty-Three

CETEWAYO "ZULU KING" (d. 1884)

Cetewayo, King of the Zulu's, was a hero in a war with the British, causing the most crushing defeat the English ever experienced from any Blacks in modern history. His victory at Isandlhwana was one of the most terrifying slaughters in history. In 1879, the British invaded Zululand. Cetewayo defeated the British, and killed Prince Napoleon, heir to the French throne.

A missionary, trying to frighten Cetewayo into accepting Christianity, told him of hell fire. "Hell fire?" Cetewayo laughed. Do you think I'm afraid of hell fire? My soldiers would put it out. He commanded his officers to have his warriors to eat a grass fire burning on a nearby hillside. His men immediately began to eat up the fire, not regarding their personal injuries. Cetewayo replied "I eat hell fire." He was a strict military disciplinarian. The army knew they must conquer or die. Certain death always awaited a defeated army.

Cetewayo banished the missionaries from the Zulu territory for plotting against him and meddling in his national affairs. It was then suggested to the governor of the Cape that the Zulu nation should be annihilated in order to secure South Africa.

Having conquered many more British, Cetewayo was soon captured and imprisioned. Three years later, Cetewayo was granted a request to present his case to Queen Victoria. The British found him to be a courteous, friendly, gentleman, not the man-eating savage depicted. He was honored as a hero and promised restoration of his power.

The whites of South Africa never kept the promise of the Queen. When Cetewayo returned home, he again went to war with the enemy. Cetewayo died in February, 1844. Never having surrendered his principles for freedom for his people, the Zulus.


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