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Kwazulu Natal

Ulundi – Historical Zulu Center

The town of Ulundi in the Kwazulu Natal Province of South Africa, is historically and culturally the center of the Zulu nation and home to the king of the Zulus, Goodwill Zwelithini. The area around Ulundi has been the domain of Zulu royalty from the time of King Chaka, so not surprisingly the main attraction of Ulundi is its historical value relating to the Zulu nation.

The history of the town goes way back to September 1873, when upon becoming king of the Zulus, Cetshwayo created a new capital for his subjects, naming it uluNdi, meaning ‘the high place’. In a conflict that came to be known as the ‘Battle of Ulundi’ and which turned out to be the final battle of the 1879 Anglo-Zulu War, the royal kraal was captured and burnt to the ground by British soldiers under the leadership of Lord Chelmsford. Following his defeat, King Cetshwayo was exiled to London, returning to South Africa in 1883 and ruling as the last king of the independent Zulu nation until his death in 1884, whereupon his son, Dinizulu, was proclaimed heir to the throne. The royal line of the Zulus has continued, but while remaining a much respected figurehead of the nation, the King no longer has jurisdictional power.

A visit to the remains of King Mpande’s (Cetshwayo’s father) kraal at Ondini a little way from Ulundi, as well as Fort Nolela, KwaGqokli Hill and other historical sites around Ulundi will reveal much about the fascinating history that shaped this region of KwaZulu Natal.