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The first Britons to reach Zululand were a handful of shipwrecked traders. They found themselves completely at the mercy of a nation whose name would become a byword for ferocity and courage. The castaways were fearful of their lives but, to their surprise, were well treated and prospered.
At the time, the Indian Ocean shoreline of the Zulu kingdom extended for almost 400 miles, whilst its inland frontiers reached as far as the Drakensberg mountains. Fifty years later the kingdom had diminished by half, followed by a threat that it would shortly cease to exist.
And so it was, in December 1878, as Cetshwayo ka Mpande, the Zulu king, contemplated the British ultimatum with which he knew it would be impossible to comply, he pondered on the past and with bitterness mused: 'first came the traders, then came the missionaries and then came the red soldiers'.
But British traders, missionaries and her red soldier army had been invidiously advancing into Zululand for decades, their every encounter and demand bringing the red soldiers closer to the Zulu army of 40 000 disciplined warriors – 'the bravest of a brave nation'.
Zulu Conquered, with more than 130 vivid illustrations, describes the adventure, treachery and rampage that ensued between Zulu, Boer and Briton during the sixty years separating the arrival of the first white man to the destruction of the Zulu army, the death of King Cetshwayo and, finally, the devastation of Zululand.
Ron Lock is the co-author of the internationally acclaimed Zulu Victory: The Epic of Isandlwana and the Cover-Up, and Zulu Vanquished: The Destruction of the Zulu Kingdom. He lives in Kwa-Zulu Natal and enjoys access to all the historical battlefields of the area.
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