British soldiers and Zulu warriors do battle during a re-enactment of the Battle of Isandlwana. Picture: ROGAN WARD/THE TIMES
British soldiers and Zulu warriors do battle during a re-enactment of the Battle of Isandlwana. Picture: ROGAN WARD/THE TIMES

On Saturday, King Goodwill Zwelithini will lead Zulu regiments to the Sphinx-shaped mountain of Isandlwana in Nquthu‚ northern KwaZulu-Natal‚ for the commemoration of the epic Battle of Isandlwana.

The colourful annual re-enactment of the battle attracts a large number of local and international visitors‚ and has become one of the province’s tourism draw cards.

The Battle of Isandlwana was fought on January 22 1879‚ and was one of the first in the six-month long Anglo-Zulu War. The battle was among the first defeats inflicted on the British empire in history.

After the British commenced their invasion of Zululand‚ about 20‚000 Zulu warriors attacked a portion of the British main column‚ consisting of about 1‚800 British‚ colonial and native troops.

The Zulu warriors were armed mainly with the traditional spears and cow-hide shields while the British troops were armed with the modern Martini-Henry breech-loading rifles and two 7-pounder mountain guns.

Despite all that‚ the Zulu warriors ultimately overpowered the heavily armed British‚ killing more than 1‚300 troops. The Zulu army also suffered hundreds of casualties.

Two years ago‚ a new R12.5m cultural village‚ complete with a place for the Zulu monarch‚ was unveiled in Isandlwana. The Isandlwana Heritage Development Precinct was completed using an estimated R30m from the national government and the National Lotteries Board.

The village has nine huts where regiments will camp as they prepare for the commemoration of the battle and King Zwelithini has a slightly larger hut for his stay during the ceremony.

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