No Longer at This Address – From Jan Smuts Highway to King Cetshwayo Highway

King Cetshwayo wearing western dress and his isicoco head-ring, London 1882
King Cetshwayo wearing western dress and his isicoco head-ring, London 1882

King Cetshwayo kaMpande, after whom Jan Smuts Highway in Durban is now named, is considered to be the last king of an independent Zulu kingdom. Apparently standing at nearly two metres tall, and weighing in excess of 150kgs, Cetshwayo showed his might by first taking control of his father’s kingdom while King Mpande was still alive, and then going on to spend the majority of his ruling years in battle. Cetshwayo also took the idea of sibling rivalry to the next level, assassinating his one brother and forcing another into exile.

King Cetshwayo, who officially ruled the Zulus from 1872 to 1879 (unofficially Cetshwayo was in control for much longer than this, with his father taking a back seat) is most famous for his defeat of the British at the Battle of Isandlwana, considered by many to be the most glorious moment in Zulu military history. Some five months later though, the Zulus were defeated by the British at the Battle of Ulundi, the Zulu capital established by Cetshwayo. On hearing news of the defeat Cetshwayo fled Ulundi, only to be captured by the British on the 28th August 1879.

Cetshwayo was sent into exile in the Cape, returning to Natal in 1883 after Queen Victoria gave permission for Cetshwayo to be allowed to rule a portion of his kingdom. Cetshwayo found his rule challenged by Zibhebhu kaMaphitha, a chief of the Mandlakazi Royal Homestead, and after losing many men to kaMaphitha, Cetshwayo retreated to Eshowe where he died a few months later, on the 8th February 1884.

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