we have planned a walk down toward the River Buffalo to look at
Fugitive's Drift, where lieutenants Melvill and Coghill were killed,
and the colours lost after the battle of Isandhlwana.
Our guide today is Emmanuel Xolani Mkhize, a Zulu who has grown
up in Rorke's Drift.
He is full of
interesting information, and it really is quite something to hear
the story of the saving of the Queen's Colours from Isandhlwana
whilst surveying the actual area!
We then walk
the final steps that Melvill and Coghill took themselves up a sharp
incline, to their final resting place. The monument on this hill
has the immortal words, "For Queen and Country. Jesu Mercy".
They must have
thought they were safe, after having crossed that torrent of water,
only to find themselves in the midst of a throng of Zulus. The Colours
themselves were washed down the river, and recovered some weeks
later. Both Melvill and Coghill were awarded the VC for this gallant
The spot where
Melvill and Coghill fell
The very fact
that these men managed to make it up this hill was impressive enough,
let alone have ridden from Isandhlwana.
I think I can safely say that we were all pretty tired after the
climb, and Melvill and Coghill did it whilst injured!
In the afternoon,
we were privileged to be taken on a tour to the site where the Prince
Imperial, the last in the line of the Boneparte's, was killed. It
is indeed an interesting story, and one which surely deserves more
publicity. In my opinion, it would certainly make an excellent story
for a film!
On our way there,
we once again listen to the "Day of the Dead Moon" tapes, which
inform us of all the surrounding events that lead up to the taking
of Ulundi by the British, and the aspects of the story you do not
All the while,
the people of KwaZulu Natal are making an impact on us with their
unparalleled friendliness, yet obvious poverty. This, to westerners,
is hard to understand. How, in this material world, can one be happy
without having money and possessions? Well, these people manage
That is not
to say for one second that their poverty is acceptable, just that
it doesn't define their state of mind - Quite astonishing.
Once the story
had been told by our guide, Steve, we returned to the Land Rover.
Now, there was a small hamlet of huts around the memorial, which
was itself in a remote area near Nqutu. The people who live in these
huts are paid by the government to look after the site, and bring
the visitors book out to anyone who visits.
We duly signed
the book, and on our return to the Land Rover, Steve produces a
small box of flap-jacks. Now, I can take or leave flap-jacks, but
if you could have seen the children running for a flap-jack, it
would have moved you as it did me. They held out both hands, and
jostled for position in order to receive their allotted piece.
told us that biscuits and cakes are a once-yearly occurrence, hence
the small amount of frenzy. It was a gesture that the guides give,
but it seemed so pathetic to see the desire that they produced,
considering our expectations in the west. How we take so much for
We were all
touched by this, and spent the ride home fairly subdued. This trip
is producing some serious food for the grey matter!
The group sitting
next to the monument and tree
to the Prince Imperial
Our guide, Steve
In the evening,
a number of officers from the Royal
Regiment of Wales, currently stationed in Germany, arrived.
They were staying for just one night, after having spent 10 hours
at Isandhlwana. They
would be visiting Rorke's Drift
the following day. It was, of course, a particularly important date
for these men, as it was their comrades who fell at the battle of
Isandhlwana, and defended
the post at Rorke's Drift.
I shall find
it hard to forget the toast that was made later in the evening at
the quite fantastic meal - "The Immortal Defence of Rorke's Drift!"