Episode 150 - Dingana assassinated near Ghost Mountain and the cultural appropriation tale of the toyi-toyi

History of South Africa podcast

24-12-2023 • 22 mins

For those who’ve lasted the journey thus far, thank you for listening. The number of downloads is approaching 1 and a quarter million, which by itself is quite a shock.

Adding to the selfserving histrionics, Episode one of this series has just made to Spotify’s fourth most listened to podcast in South Africa for 2023. More gasps of disbelief.

When I began this enterprise in February 2021 it was a giant leap into a possible abyss, a leap into the unknown, and possibly a foray into catastrophe. One person’s historian is another person’s spin doctor you could say.

As 2024 beckons, I need to mention that my site, desmondlatham.blog has a donation panel. The hosting services are not free and so far I’ve tried to avoid mentioning moolah — its base and depraved. However, debasing and depraving is required as the cost of all of this has to be covered some how.

So you’ll see a donate button on desmondlatham.blog, click on there and there’s a Paypal QR code on the page. If you’d prefer to EFT or something, send me an email at desmondlatham@gmail.com.

With that slightly odious begging bowl moment out of the way, back to our tale.

We’re going to hear about Dingana’s death, It’s late January 1840, and word reached the Voortrekker BeesKommando that Dingana had been defeated at amaQongqo, he was on the run.

Although commandant Andries Pretorius believed this was true, the Boers wanted to follow up on the amaZulu King’s defeat to deal with the remnants of his army. AS you know, Ndlela kaSompiti the general had paid for the defeat with his life, Dingana had him killed but the surviving army was still out there, on the flat lands west of the Lebombo Mountains.

But by throwing Ndlela’s body out for the wild dogs, the jackals, the hyenas and the vultures, Dingana had broken the tradition of burying respected elders and royalty. Many of his own followers took exception to this act and realised that his behaviour belied his weakness, so more decided to throw in their lot with Mpande kaSenzangkhona.

On 3rd February, 220 Boers detached from the BeesKommando for a quick recon towards the Pongolo river after being informed that Dingana’s general Nongalaza was chasing Ndlela’s shattered impi south. Maybe they’d catch these warriors in a pincer, there were reportedly around 3000 still alive and unhurt — at least 2000 others had either died or were wounded and no longer a threat.

Hundreds of warriors were indeed in the vicinity, heading back home towards the Mfolozi from the Pongola River, but this was summer and summers are often characterised by thick mist in the valleys. It was under cover of this mist belt that that warriors managed to avoid the Boers, hiding in the kloofs and caves and inside the dense riverine bush.
A small group of men and women were caught in a cave, the men were killed, the women seized.
Then 250 burghers were mounted up in a larger commando and headed north east from the White Mfolozi to the Pongola river to join up with Nongalaza’s amaZulu.
They met up with Nongalaza on the 5th February, who told them that Dingana had made it across the Pongola River and was fleeing into amaSwazi country with a few close adherents and his mother and some sisters.

He was headed towards the Lubombo Mountains. Now anyone who has travelled here will know of the Ghost mountain, the combination of blunt hills and thick sub-tropical bush, the sandy trails and possibly, the ghostly stories.
When he realised that Nongalaza’s men had turned around, he stopped with his retinue at a small hilll south of the Lubombo Mountains called Hlathikhulu. Peering at these mountains in February 1840 was Dingana, who took stock as he settled in to a makeshift royal residence on the forested slopes. His isigodlo was put in place and he named this eSankoleni, a place of seclusion, the secluded spot.
This was his last place, and instead of seclusion, it was going to be a place of execution.