you are currently viewing: Discussion Forum


The Rorke's Drift VC Discussion Forum
(View Discussion Rules)


PLEASE NOTE: This forum is now inactive and is provided for reference purposes only. The live forum is available at

(Back To Topic List)

DateOriginal Topic
14th July 2003Zulu medicine against bullet wounds
By Miguel
The wounds inflicted by MHs were terrible and most of the time mortal. Did the Zulus have any treatment at all for those wounds? How developed was their medicine?

Canary Islands
15th July 2003Clive Dickens
The answer is yes but only their own concctions but do not knock this when I was in South Africa last year I had one awfull stomach upset and a Zulu gave me a leaf to chew (not swallow) and in aroud half an hour it was settled so I think we must accept that all though not like our western medcine they know the natural healing proprieties of plants but with the wounds the MH would have caused perhaps this would not have been enough.
16th July 2003Trevor
Anyone have any specifics on what the Zulu medican man would do with a bullet wound?
17th July 2003Mark Hobson
In Ian Knights book "The Anatomy of the Zulu Army", in the sections dealing with Zulu medical facilities, there are two interesting quotes.

The first is about a Zulu named Diyikana kaHlakanyana:

He had three large wounds on the body. One was on the head, extending from above the right eye to the ear; another was on the chest, from above the nipple to the right shoulder; another on the stomach, to the side and round to the back where the ribs end. That one had to be stitched up with a sinew; his intestines were thoroughly washed and pushed back inside.

Surgeon Blair Brown comments on some of the herbal treatments when he commented:

"Through an interpreter he told me all about the progress of healing and the means adopted to get it well. There is a small flat-leafed orchid which grows plentifully on the veldt. A leaf of this was secured on both wounds and changed occasionally; this was all that was done"

Basically the wounds would be treated using a variety of herbal remedies and pratical common sense, such as keeping the wounds clean and stitching them up. Amputation without anaesthetic was widely practised. Many people were amazed at how Zulus could survive horrific injuries, sometimes within weeks. An indication of their courage and character

17th July 2003Miguel
Intestines washed and pushed back inside? The whole thing had to be too horrible to contemplate.

Think of that: no anaesthetics. Oh man.
17th July 2003Trevor
Didn't the Zulu use some kind of drug? I read some where that they took some kind of drug prior to battle. Perhaps they'd use it for amputations as well?
18th July 2003Mark Hobson
There are many references to Zulu warriors taking snuff just prior to battle. This was a mixture of ground tobacco leaves and aloe leaves, but might also have contained canabis as an extra stimulant. If so the effects would have been to dull the senses to a degree where pain and exhaustion became less of a hindrance, allowing them to fight beyond normal human endurance.
Zulu healers -inyangas- also gave the warriors "muthi" medicine prior to embarking on a campaign, a concoction of barks, fruits, leaves and roots all crushed together and mixed with dried snakes, bones or animal innards. This mixture was supposed to give protection against enemy bullets. They would also be sprinkled with intelezi medicine by the inyanga, once more to give them strength and courage. It seems that this medicine used in the doctoring ceromonies may have partly been made up of flesh taken from a fallen foe for certain body parts were deemed to represent courage, strength and vitality. Flesh from a persons forehead, the tissue from the rectum and sometimes parts of the penis are prime examples.
Whether these had any physical effects depends on your view, but psychologically they may have helped the warriors
18th July 2003Trevor
I wonder what Psychological effect, seeing the guy next to you shot dead, would have. When you realise the medicine to protect you. doesn't bloody work on these red coats!