The Boers and Zululand.

On 25 May 1875, in the name of the Boer Republic, the Boers announced that large areas of Zululand were their territory. Following this announcement, which seriously irritated King Cetshwayo, Boer settlers again began moving into Zululand and these new incursions were opposed by the Zulus with increasing vigour. One such area of heightened tension was an unofficial extension of the Boers’Transvaal into Zululand, which lay between the Buffalo and Blood rivers immediately north of Rorke’s Drift, which was generally becoming known as the ‘disputed territory’. It was evident to all parties that relationships between the Boers and Zulus were seriously deteriorating and decisive action, beyond sabre rattling, needed to be taken. Cetshwayo decided his armies needed firearms, previously banned by the British. His Council reasoned that, without firearms, they would be at a disadvantage in any further conflict with the Boers. The Portuguese traders at Delagoa Baywere only too happy to supply the Zulus with their redundant firearms and, although the trade in firearms was illegal, there were enough rogue traders only too happy to sell off their old muskets at a premium. Gunpowder was a rare commodity and so a Portuguese entrepreneur, known to the Zulus as Mqhali, obliged by producing a small but steady supply.


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