Today in history: King Cetshwayo is captured and exiled



King Cetshwayo is considered the last king of the free Zulu nation. Image: Zululand Observer.

King Cetshwayo, the last great ruler of Zululand, was captured by the British after his defeat in the British-Zulu War on this day in 1879, and then exiled.

In 1838, the Boers, who moved north to avoid the new British rule in the south, for the first time moved into armed conflicts with the Zulus, which at that time were under the rule of King Dingane. The European migrants succeeded in 1840 in overthrowing Dingane and replaced him by his son Mpande, who became the vassal of the new Boer Republic Natal.

In 1843 Great Britain succeeded the Boers as the rulers of Natal, who controlled Zululand, the neighboring kingdom of the Zulus.

King Mpande died in 1872 and was succeeded by his son Cetshwayo, who was determined to oppose European domination on its territory. In December 1878, Cetshwayo rejected the British demand that he would disband his troops, and in January of the following year, British troops invaded Zululand to suppress Cetshwayo.

The British suffered severe defeats at Isandlwana, where 1,300 British soldiers were killed or wounded, and at Hlobane Mountain, but in March the tide turned to the Khambula in favor of the British.

After months of conflict, King Cetshwayo was captured and sent into exile, but in 1883 he was restored to rule part of his former territory. Because of his defeats, however, he was discredited in the eyes of his subjects and soon expelled him from Zululand. He died in exile during the following year.

In 1887, faced with the continued Zulu uprisings, the British formally annexed Zululand and in 1897 it became part of Natal, which became a member of the Union of South Africa in 1910.

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