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DateOriginal Topic
14th March 2004War Chants at Rorke's Drift!
By Remo

Very interesting site! I'm interested in native war chants and know I would ask if someone know which chants were used at Rorke's Drift by the Zulu Warriors?

23rd March 2004Mike MccCabe
I see that, rather meanly, nobody has replied so far. It's an interesting question - there being no knowledgeable white or Zulu defender who was able to provide a continuous account referring to this detail. There are passing references in the recently published 'Rorke's Drift, byThose who Were There' but (from memory) only references to the use of 'Usuthu'. However, the Zulu oral tradition might provide a reliable retrospective account if the right person were to be asked. However, rather as nobody really knows what tune Piper Laidlaw played at the Dargai Hills, it could prove difficult to be certain. Oddly, this is one of the few areas where the film 'Zulu' might provide us with a useful indication of what might have been chanted on the day - assuming, that is, that the Zulu actors and extras were able to select their own chants, rather than the director. It was made just after the last living Zulu witnesses of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift (who watched whilst children) had died in the late 1950s.

23rd March 2004John Young

I've being corresponding outside the forum, with someone who I assume is Remo's associate. That person is dealing with the chap responsible for some of the traditional chanting & songs that appeared on 'Zulu Dawn', in an effort to resolve the original query.

John Y.
24th March 2004Mike McCabe
Zulu Dawn, I agree, might also be evidence of the actual oral tradition being drawn upon. One of the curiousities of Zulu Dawn was the use, by the Zulu prisoners (the ones 'assisting with inquiries') of Dingane's cry 'Slay the White Wizards'. Was it perhaps used as a 'watchword' to enable the 'loyal' attacking Zulus to identify themselves from the NNC and those Zulus (and other Nguni) in the service of the British?