rorkesdriftvc.com Forum Index


rorkesdriftvc.com
Discussions related to the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879
Reply to topic
Q&A oddities
Alan
Site Admin

Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 1326
Location: Wales
Reply with quote
I have been in contact with Ken Gillings, who has recently published his book ‘Discovering the Battlefields of the Anglo-Zulu War’ and had some interesting answers to my questions.
http://www.rorkesdriftvc.com/bookreviews.php?i
There could be some debate on whether we should be using the Anglizied versions of words as we’re Angles or using the originals.

Q.
I noticed you call it Mzinyathi River. It is primarily known as Buffalo to me and most people I know. Is yours an accepted rule now or the fact that all the signs at the bridge kept disappearing until they changed from Buffalo to Mzinyathi.
A.
I’ve always referred to it as the Mzinyathi (Buffalo in isiZulu, of course). Many signs are being stolen, so I doubt that it was for that reason!

Q.
Incidentally, Google Earth names the Buffalo river ‘Buffelsrivier’. Is that Afrikaans? Is there also a Zulu name for Isandhlwana, if so why not use that?
(N.B. using Google Earth is proving to be not very accurate when trying to find places using names to search)
A.
The Afrikaans for a buffalo is a ‘buffel’, so the Buffalo River would be translated as ‘Buffelsrivier’.

Q.
There is another name used for ‘Fugitives’ Drift’ which is new to me. You name it ‘Sothondoza’s Drift’ and Mike Snook spells it ‘Sothondose’s Drift’. Is it a variable?
A.
As far as I am aware, it is spelt Sothondoza. It has something to do with a penis (uMthondo) but it depends upon the usage. Nquthu, for example has a couple of meanings, the most plausible being the pubic area of a woman...

Q.
Who was Sothondoza?
A.
Fugitives’ Drift is also known as Sothondoza’s Drift because he and his community lived there for many years. In fact, Sothondoza’s descendants told the late George Buntting that it was his people who killed several of the fugitives, including Lts Melvill and Coghill, after being threatened by the Zulus from the Zululand bank. I refer to this in my book.
Many years, ago, the drift was a major crossing point from Zululand into Natal and there was a small boat anchored on the Zululand bank, that used to ferry people from Zululand across the river to enable them to buy groceries at “Pottie” Potgieter’s store at Petruskar (which is where the Fugitives’ Drift Guest House is now situated). I often used this when walking the Fugitives’ Trail, but the boat was washed away during a flood and it was never replaced.

It was rumoured that Potgieter was responsible for the destruction of Melvill’s and Coghill’s grave in 1979. George Buntting told me he was often under the weather and if he was responsible, probably didn’t even remember doing it.
Incidentally, you may have noticed a road heading down the hill towards the (Fugitives’/Sothondoza’s) Drift on the Zululand side. The Provincial Roads Department intended building a bridge across the river at the drift, and the road was heading in that direction. I was very active in politics at the time, and at George’s suggestion I pointed out what an impact such a road would have on this historical site with the Member of the Executive Committee in charge of roads at the time; He agreed. The project was shelved and the bridge was built across the river at Rorke’s Drift instead. The intended road stops in the bush, see Google Earth S28° 21.763’ E30° 36.219’. Note how it makes a sharp left hand bend, then stops. It would have continued down to Sothondoza’s Drift. There was also an intention to construct several dams along the Mzinyathi (oops, Buffalo!) but our Society (the SA Military History Society) launched a major objection because one of them would have flooded the drift. It has been shelved, but I’m afraid that one day its construction will be inevitable.


Q.
I hadn’t heard of the destruction of the Melvill and Coghill’s grave in 1979 by Poitgieter.
A.
George Buntting phoned me to tell me about it in 1979. I reported it to the War Graves Board. Some people said that the local Zulus had destroyed the grave because the stones of an isivivane (Zulu lucky cairn) were used to cover the bodies, but in my opinion if that had been the case, they would have been destroyed many years earlier. I’ve attached a photo of an isivivane that was established at the site of King Shaka’s kwaBulawayo No 1 ikhanda (military barracks) in about 1815. isiVivaneni (Zulu lucky cairns) may be found all over KwaZulu-Natal. They were formed by travellers passing from one point to another. You would be expected to kick a stone with your left foot, pick it up with your lright hand, spit on it and toss it onto the heap. That ensured a safe passage from one isivivane to the next.

The second example is from the Weenen area, above the Thukela / Tugela (see what I mean?) valley.



Q.
While talking about names, which spelling do you use when talking about the battle of Isandhlwana?
On the website I use the ‘H’ version for referring to the hill in the AZW but without the ‘H’ in talking
about the present-day site.
A.
Isandhlwana was the original way of spelling the name. isiZulu is developing as a language all the time and the ‘h’ fell away in the 1960s. The correct spelling is Isandlwana. Once again, it could have several meanings; David Rattray said it was “the little storage hut”; some people claim it means “the little hand” (which admittedly it resembles, but then it would be Isandlawana). Kehlas (old men) I’ve met have told me that it resembles the second stomach of a ruminant when it is laid out after the beast has been slaughtered – and that is also referred to as an Isandlwana, so I go for that version.

Q.
There doesn’t seem to be consistency in whether to give places the Zulu or the acquired names we are familiar with.
A.
The Zulu academics are trying to correct Anglicisms that arose when the early missionaries tried to write down the Zulu name from the spoken word; it can be very confusing. For example we have always referred to Amanzimtoti (referred to by Shaka during his raid to Pondoland, when he rested on the banks of the river and his iNduna brought him some water. “Kanti; amanzi mtoti”, he said (“So – the water is sweet”. The Zulu word for sweet is normally mnandi, but his mother had recently died so it was considered disrespectful to refer to her name, so Plan ‘B’ is mtoti). The modern Zulu linguists now say it should be spelt Manzamtoti, so watch this space. Remember too, that isiZulu is very similar to Latin (in fact there are about 40 words that are basic Latin); there is scansion, there are declensions, there is nominative and accusative case as well. Those impact on the spelling...

_________________
View user's profileSend private messageSend e-mailVisit poster's website
Q&A oddities
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
All times are GMT  
Page 1 of 1  

  
  
 Reply to topic