Blood River - Zulu and Voortrekker monuments

Martin and Elizabeth Bevan
Tue 22 Nov 2016 22:01

Date                          Tuesday 22 November 2016


On the return journey from Rorke’s Drift to Richards Bay we were able to visit the site of the battle of Blood River, in Zulu Ncomo.  The Zulu memorial faces that of the Voortrekkers across the river.  Whereas in 1879 the Zulus had firearms, on 16 December 1838 they had not and 470 Voortrekkers under the command of Andries Pretorius held off a force estimated of between 15,000 and 21,000 Zulus on the bankS of the Ncomo River.  The origins of the dispute that lead to the battle concern a disputed treaty, the outcome and subsequent settlement meant that the voortrekkers were able to occupy Zulu land up to the Tugela River as their Republic of Natalia.


The front of the Zulu Museum, facing the river, is in the form of the buffalo horn formation introduced by King Shaka Zulu in the early 19th century to devastating effect. The different shields represent the Impis that were an integral part of his reorganisation of the Zulu battle force.


Representation of King Shaka Zulu in the Ncomo Museum


A representation of a Zulu warrior in full battle order, prior to the introduction of firearms


Looking from the Zulu memorial across the river towards the Voortrekker Memorial



This representation of a Voortrekker wagon is at the entrance to their museum. The wagon is symbolically seen as the home, fortress and church of the Voortrekkers.


The very impressive Voortrekker monument consists of 60 full-size representations of the original wagons, constructed in wrought iron and coated in bronze.  It was unveiled on 16 December 1971 on the site of the original laager of 1838.


Close-up showing the incredible detail found in each of the 60 wagons.