On January 11th,1879, Queen Victoria’s soldiers, under the command of Lord Chelmsford, crossed the Buffalo River into Zululand as part of a three-column invasion force. Many of Queen Victoria’s soldiers would have had no idea of what lay ahead, they would have known very little about the Zulu people, or for that matter, why they were invading the Zulu homeland. Indeed even Queen Victoria and her Government had no knowledge that there was a war, let alone an invasion in Zululand. The terrible battle, which took place at Isandlwana, was a huge shock to Queen Victoria, her Government, and the British public. It was incomprehensible that the modern industrialised nation of Great Britain, with a growing empire and a well equipped modern army could be so utterly defeated, by what many would call, a native force of no standing.
The Zulu warriors’ nation, on the other hand, were about to be put on to the world map and into the history books forever. They would be recorded as a fighting force with incredible aptitude, who showed great capability, and bravery in the face of an enemy equipped with, what was, at the time, state of the art weaponry.
Henry B Frere, who was the Imperial Pro-Consul, had issued some unrealistic demands upon the Zulu people, which he knew they could not meet. He demanded that the Zulus disband their army, which was the very centre of their nation. It was the military system that gave the Zulu peoples strength and stability. It was precisely this unity that held together the Zulu homeland. The request to disband would destroy the very centre of Zulu life. It had to be challenged.
Records show an eclipse of the sun on the 22nd of January 1879, a sign of ill portent for the warriors and soldiers, who so bravely fought two of the bloodiest battles of the Anglo- Zulu War, Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift.