The battle of Blood River, or Ncome, on 16 December 1838 has long been regarded as a critical moment in the history of South Africa. It is the culminating victory by the land-hungry Boers who had migrated out of the British-ruled Cape and invaded the Zulu kingdom in 1837.
Many Afrikaners long acclaimed their triumph as the God-given justification for their subsequent dominion over Africans. By contrast, Africans celebrate the war with pride for its significance in their valiant struggle against colonial aggression.
In this telling of the Boer invasion, John Laband deals even-handedly with the warring sides in the conflict, explaining both victory and defeat in the many battles that marked the war. Crucially, he takes the Zulu evidence into full account to present the less familiar Zulu perspective and to explain the decisions taken by the Zulu leaders, as they grappled with the existential threat of the Boer invasion.
The protagonists are placed in the context of a subcontinent experiencing a time of turmoil in the early nineteenth century. A time that saw the displacement of populations and migrations, the emergence of new, warlike African kingdoms such as that of the amaZulu, and the inexorable and violent advance of colonial settlement and rule.
DR JOHN LABAND is a Professor Emeritus of History at Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada. He has authored, co-authored and edited over twenty books on warfare and military culture in Africa, specialising in the Zulu kingdom and in nineteenthcentury colonial conflicts in southern Africa. His publications include The Eight Zulu Kings, published by Jonathan Ball in 2018.
|Jonathan Ball Publishers