Eshowe – Capital of Zululand

The main feature of the market town of Eshowe is also its crowning glory. This surrounding Dhlinza Forest will captivate your imagination and your heart with the greatest of ease. Said to be named after the soft swishing sound of the wind blowing through these forests, Eshowe is the oldest European settlement in Zululand and it is also the capital of Zululand. Thus, if you are travelling in the Uthungulu District of KwaZulu Natal, you simply have to make a stop at Eshowe, South Africa.

The history of this beautiful little town probably started around 1860 when the Zulu prince Cetshwayo decided to build a kraal here. Only a year later, the Reverend Ommund Ofterbro, a Norwegian missionary, obtained permission from Cetshwayo (who had by this time become King of the Zulus) to build a mission station in the area. The station later came to be called KwaMondi Mission Station after the Zulu name ‘Mondi’ that the people gave to Ofterbro. Things started to change at KwaMondi during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 when a battle between Colonel Charles Pearson’s column of men and the Zulu Army took the British to the KwaMondi Mission. They decided to use the mission which they fortified and called Fort Eshowe. After the war, the fort grew into a town and before long Eshowe was established as the capital of Zululand. It was officially declared a township in 1891 and in 1947, it was visited by the British Royal Family. The family was welcomed by King Cyprian and they not only toured the spectacular forests but spend a night in ‘The Residency’ here.

Today this stunning little Zulu town still stands proudly amidst the natural heritage of the forests. It has two shopping centres, a major hospital, a number of schools and a main bus station, amongst other things. Because it is situated on a plateau, it does not suffer from the subtropical humidity so commonly found in the surrounding areas. Eshowe is a great stop for a number of reasons. For one thing, it was the seat of the first Black Diocesan Bishops in South Africa – both for the Anglican and Catholic Churches. For another, it is surrounded by a number of fascinating historical sites which are well worth visiting. Places such as Coward’s Bush, Fort Nonqayi, KwaBulawayo and the Vukani Museum are all located either in or near the town. Other attractions include the Entumi Nature Reserve, the Goedetrouw Public Resort, the Ocean View Game Park and, of course, the Dlinza Forest. So visit Eshowe and discover this small piece of Zululand paradise for yourself.

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