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Land of the Zulus

Ben West recounts the context of the bloody Anglo-Zulu War as well as describing his experience of visiting KwaZulu-Natal’s emotionally charged battlefields
REMNANTS OF THE PAST: Mass graves at the site of the Battle of Isandlwana during the Anglo-Zulu War in 1879
DAVID RATTRAY

If you have seen the 1964 film Zulu, starring Stanley Baker and Michael Caine, no doubt you’ve wondered what it must have been like to experience one of the bloodiest battles ever recorded. The epic war film depicted the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, one of South Africa’s most famous conflicts in the Anglo-Zulu War, during which no more than 150 British soldiers successfully held off a force of more than 4000 Zulu warriors.

“The film displayed considerable artistic licence,” said fellow passenger John Stephens on my Air France flight to Johannesburg, as we sipped Champagne and Cognac (I was surprised to see them dished out in Economy) over the Sahara. “That film is about five per cent accurate — and that’s being generous.”

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About Travel Africa

Come rain or shine - how the seasons affect your safari experience • On foot in Mana Pools • 5 Amazing islands in Mozambique • Guide to Tanzania's Udzungwa Mountains • South Africa's emotive Battlefields • Why Tsavo West? • Tree-climbing lions in Uganda • Cultural journey through Côte d'Ivoire... and much more!
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