durbannatal

 

 

 

Durban Natal

 


I went to College in Durban in 1973 to do a secretarial course. While I was there I stayed at the Young Womens Christian Association (YWCA) hostel which was situated on the Victoria Embankment near Gardiner Street, and not far from the Marina.

 


And when I left college I came back to Durban and worked as a typist for Consolidated Textile Mills in their shipping department. I moved into a flat with my friend Mara du Plessis, which was towards North Pier not far from Adlington Hospital.

Living at the YWCA hostel was a bit like boarding school but with a little less restrictions.

Still, we had to sign a book everytime we came in or went out. And there was a little old lady sitting at a desk in the foyer who used to have to escort male visitors into the lounge as men were not allowed anywhere else in the building.

Another requirement was that you had to be back inside no later than 10.30 p.m. when they locked the doors, and all overnight stays away from the hostel had to be in the form of a written invitation.

To be designated as a non-profit organisation, the hostel had to hold regular church/prayer meetings which were held on Mondays. Although you didn't have to attend these, you were looked unfavourably upon if you didn't. Most girls attended once a month to show 'willingness'.

I shared a room with a girl called Avril, originally from one of the Orange Free State towns, and who worked in a Bank.



Note the 'smart' 1970's fashions!
In this photo you can just see my room. It's the window in the left hand corner.

Avril and I had one of the best rooms. We had a good view, which you can see in the photo.
We used to get a lot of 'swishing' traffic-noise but after a while it became quite relaxing.

  

 


This lovely fountain and charming garden is near the marina, not far away. And when you walked round the back of the YWCA building and down the little alley, you came out on Smith Street where all the shops were.

Durban was a wonderful city. Unlike Johannesburg, it was easy to get around, find places and of course you had the biggest landmark of all ... the Sea!!

My dad had given me a little Honda CT90 trail bike to get around on, and I regularly went on rides around Durban and the surrounding countryside. I got to know the place like the back of my hand.

I made friends with some people who lived in Durban.

 

 


My room-mate Avril.


Mara du Plessis, my best friend, was a girl who I went to college with. She lived in Berea.

Chris Hardy who went to the University lived on the Bluff.

Brian Tilsley was a mechanic who had a Yamaha 650 and also lived on the Bluff.

Paul con Clarke was Brian's friend lived at the YMCA and had a Honda 350.

Mike Phillips, another friend, also had a bike and lived out towards Pinetown. (Mike died on his 21st birthday in a collision with a car).

There were other people whose names I cant remember, and as Durban was a holiday resort you met people who had come down on vacations.

 



A lot of the time I spent down at the beach, where there were cafes, a swimming pool, amusement arcade, and gardens.

During the summer, when people came for holidays, the locals used to get what was called 'Natal fever'. No, do not rush to your medical encyclopedia to look up the disease!

The symptoms were: 'It's such a lovely day ' look at those lucky devils sunning themselves ... I wish I was there right now ... oh sod it! ... phone into work and say I'm sick ... I'm off to the beach!' laugh

 

 

  




In the 1970s the lower Marine Parade was a one way drive along the Golden Mile where tourists and locals used to go.
 

Durban Beach front


The sea is warm thoughout the year and popular amongst the younger generation is surfing, and fishing.

 


 
But the coast line is notorius for shark attacks and in 1952 shark nets were erected off Durbans beaches.

 
The Mgeni River is rich in sealife which the sharks come in to feed off, mistaking surfers as prey.


 
The coastline is also known for the Sardine Run in June and July when the fish appear in their thousands. In May shad, mackerel, kingfish and barracuda arrive; and in October, the month when the sharks are common, salmon, garrick, galjoen and bronze bream swim in the waters. 
 
    
Durban has a number of places of interest, including a Snake park, Indian market, Mohammedan Mosque, art galleries, museums, and Aquarium.
 
The main streets are Smith Street which is now a one way street leading away from the beach, and West Street also one way, leading towards the beach.
 
  
 
The domed building is the City Hall built in 1910 and is an almost exact replica of the City Hall of Belfast in Northern Ireland.
 
Opposite the City Hall is a commorative garden called Francis Farewell Square, one of the early settlers of Durban.
 
A common site in Durban in the 1930s was the Zulu Rickshaws. They were introduced in 1893 by the sugar magnate, Sir Marshall Campbell.
 
The Zulus loved the idea of dressing up in flamboyant costumes and competing with one another for customers. Annual competions were held to decide the best-dressed and the most gaily decorated rickshaws.
 
After the Second World War they went into decline as the traffic authorities disliked them, and there were allegations that it was cruel to use people to draw carriages.


 
    Rickshaw Men Durban, South Africa
 
Even though there were still some about in the 1970s when I was living there, I must admit I never went in one. They were lovely to see, and the beadwork that decorates the headgear and costumes is exquisite.
 
Contrary to the belief that the native tribespeople do not have art, they are renowned for their basketry, beadwork, and wood carvings ... all done by hand. They are also very resourceful people.
 
Children make replica cars out of wire ... and these are not ornamental. The wheels rotate and have steering wheels so that they can also turn left or right. The children attach a rod of wire to the steering wheel and push the car along. Some even have metal bodywork made out of softdrink cans, carefully shaped and bent over the ironwork frame. How many European children can make these?!


 
While we were living in Swaziland, and particularly during the civil unrest in Mocambique, my parents and I used to come to Durban for holidays.
 
We had friends from Zambia who had moved to Natal ... Ken Hill, his wife (whose name I can't remember) and their family, who lived in Umdloti up the coast from Durban; ... Bruce and Joy Aiken and their family, who first lived in New Germany just outside Durban and then moved to Port Shepstone down the coast from Durban; and ... Des and Doreen Richmond and their family, who lived in Estcourt inland from Durban.
 
We either stayed in Durban itself at a hotel, or at a place just outside Durban called Cabana Beach at Umhlanga Rocks.
 

 
I also visited the area with the kids in 1992.
 

 


Pictures from my 1992 visit :
 

Boats at the Marina
 
My dad loved the Marina, and whenever we came to Durban we had to look around at all the boats. When I came in 1992, I took the kids to see them. While I was taking photos I saw this one ...

 

 

 
We also occasionally went to the harbour to see the ships coming in and out of port, or to the berthing quays to see the passenger liners. Often you would see the arrival of naval ships.
 
The harbour was interesting because the large ships and passenger liners needed assistance from tug boats to guide them through the channels in the bay. These big ships can also only come in at high tide.
 
The harbour houses oil tankers and there are oil refineries in Durban.

 

  
 
Durban sea front
 
The Bluff


 

Shaun on the beach


 

Marine Parade
 
The old road along the beach was gone and the whole Golden Mile was laid out in a pedestrian thoroughfare.

 


 
Wild unspoilt beach
(no continental beach umbrellas and sunloungers here!)
smile
 
 


 

Durban's Humble Beginnings
 

 
The City of Durban stands on a natural harbour which, in 1497 when Vasco de Gama anchored there, was considered by the Portuguese to be a lagoon at the mouth of a river. They called the 'lagoon' Rio de Natal which means 'Christmas River'.
 
    
 
Although a few pirates, slave traders, and merchants landed at Rio de Natal, few stayed because of the dense coastal forests and mangrove swamps with surround the bay.
 
Then, in 1823 a party of traders from the Cape again found the bay and decided to build a settlement there. The settlement was disowned by the British government, but refugees from tribal disturbances came and attached themselves to the settlers.
 
The settlement was tolerated by the Zulus who lived about 100kms to the  north and the land was ceded to the traders. However,  the Zulus  established a garrison nearby called uKangel'amaNkengama which means 'watch the vagabonds'.
 
In 1835 the settlers decided to name their settlement after Sir Benjamin D'Urban, the governor of the Cape.
 
In 1838 the Voortrekkers left the Orange Free State and moved down the escarpment into the area of  Natal.
 
Their leader, Piet Retief, had asked the Zulu if they could settle in the area, and had at first been hospitably received by their king, Dingane.
 
However, Dingane asked Retief, as a sign of his good faith,  to recover some cattle that had been stolen by the Tlokwa tribespeople, under the chief Sikonyela.
 
The Voortrekkers arrested Sikonyela, and Retief and his men took the 700 head of cattle, 63 horses, and 11 guns to Dingane at the Zulu capital of uMgungundlovu. However, Retief kept back some of the cattle.
 
Unbeknown to Retief, Dingane's warriors and advisors had judged the Voortrekkers to be undesirable and dangerous, and when Retief reached uMgungundlovu, he found the full Zulu army awaiting him.
 
However, Dingane told Retief that the warriors were there to welcome him and on 4th February 1838, Dingane gave Retief a  witnessed document ceding to him all the land between the Tugela and Mzimvubu Rivers, including the territory belonging to the Pongo tribe and also that belonging to the traders at Port Natal (Durban).
 
During the celebratory feast afterwards, Dingane suddenly dropped the pretence and ordered his men to "Babulaleni abaThakathi", which means "Kill the Wizards".

 


 
Retief and his men were taken to a hill near the Zulu encampment called kwaMatiwane, which was opposite a mission station run by Francis Owen, whereupon the Zulu warriors then gruesomely killed Retief and his men.


 
Dingane and his army then set off to the Voortrekker encampment at the Bushman's River.
 
Hearing what had happened and what was being planned by the Zulus, one of the  traders at Durban, Dick King, set off to warn the Voortrekkers. But he arrived too late ...

 
The Zulu warriors had got there first and in the ensuing battles many of  Voortrekkers and Zulu warriors had been killed.
 
But that wasn't the end of it ...

 
The traders at Durban went to join the Voortrekkers in fighting the Zulu warriors in retribution for the massacres.
 
They attacked the kraal Ndondakusuka and destroyed it, but fled when faced with an army of  7,000 men who chased them back to Durban.
 
The traders sought refuge on  Salisbury Island, the little island in the bay. With no boats the  Zulu withdrew, ransacking and burning the Durban settlement to the ground.
 
In the meantime, the Voortrekkers encountered the Zulus at the Ncome River and the Battle of Blood River ensued.
 
Hearing of the disturbances, the British came to Durban and found the survivors. They left when the area settled down, but returned when troubles once again flared up in 1842, and built a fort as a permanent stronghold.
 
No sooner had this fort been built than it was attacked, this time by the Voortrekkers, who held in under siege for 34 days.
 
Again, it was Dick King who rode out to the British garrison at Grahamstown, a 1,000km ride, to plea for reinforcements. A statue commemorating this ride was built on Victoria Embankment in Durban in 1915.
 
The Voortrekkers withdrew from the area of Natal and went into the Transvaal and the Orange Free State and the province was annexed to the Cape Colony in 1844.
 
 

Dick King Statue
 
 

 


 
Durban Outskirts

 
 Immediately inland from Durban the country rises steadily and within 20kms reaches an altitude of 400-500 metres.
 
The towns mentioned are on the road to Pietermaritzburg.
 

Kloof which means 'ravine' is 5kms from a deep ravine. In the ravine is the Kranzkloof Nature Reserve and the Molweni River meaning 'stream of high cliffs' runs at the bottom.
 
New Germany dates from 1848 when a party of German immigrants arrived here to settle on a cotton-growing estate named Westville. The cotton proved to be unsuccessful so the German settlers grew vegetables and flowers.
 
Pinetown is on the old road to Pietermaritzburg and was built around a coaching inn called the Wayside Hotel where stage-coaches changed horses and passengers refreshed themselves in about 1849. Pinetown was named after the governor of Natal, Sir Benjamin Pine.
 
Queensburgh is a combination of the residential estates ... Malvern, Escombe, Northdene, Moseley and Cavendish. To escape the coastal heat of Durban many residents built their homes in outlying areas. As more and more people started building inlands they became estates, and then those grew until the municipality of Queensburgh was developed.
 
Westville was a farm in 1847 owned by another two Germans, H Jaraal and P Jung who named the farm after the British lieutenant-general, Martin West. They tried growing cotton and coffee there but again did not have much success. Today Westville is residential estate and home to the Durban-Westville University.

 

 

 


The Phoenix Settlement
(INANDA)
 

 
The Phoenix Settlement in the Inanda district was a communal farm where all workers drew the same wage and in their spare time wrote, edited, and published the Indian Opinion, a newspaper covering Indian affairs.
 
The Settlement was founded by Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand Ghandi, a young Indian lawyer, who came to Durban in 1893 to take part in a lawsuit in the Transvaal.
 
When he arrived at the station he booked a first-class train ticket to Johannesburg, but because of the apartheid system in South Africa, he was ordered off the train because of his colour. He had to spend the night in the cold non-European waiting-room at Pietermaritzburg station.
 
His experience made him decide to remain in Natal and help the growing community of Indians imported to work on the sugar plantations. He stayed for 21 years and formulated his famous doctrine of passive resistance. Mahatma Ghandi returned to India in 1914.
 

 
The oldest Hindu temple in South Africa is the Sri Vaithianatha Easvarar Alayam situated in Umgeni Road in Durban, and there are many smaller temples in the city and its outskirts.
 
The Muslim community has a magnificent mosque at the corner of Grey Street and Queen Street which is said to be the largest mosque in the southern hemisphere.
 

 
Durban is famous for its Indian market in Cathedral Road where curry powders and other spices are sold by the kilo to Asians, Europeans, and the restaurant industry.
 
A delicacy of Durban is 'bunny chow' which is half a loaf of crusty fresh bread hollowed out into which is ladelled the famous spicy hot Durban curry ... not for the faint hearted! ... They don't call it 'Exterminator' for nothing!
 
The Durban bunny chow is only one way that the South Africans make curry. There is a Cape Malay version which is milder, and the South African farmhouse curry 'bobotie'.
 
Traditional South African food includes the 'bredie' which is a kind of stew, the 'boerewors' a spicy sausage which is usually barbequed, and 'biltong' which is raw salted beef dried. Biltong was made from venison and other game animals in the days of the Voortrekkers as a way of preserving meat. 'Sosaties' are the South African version of Kebabs. 
 
A lot of South African recipes call for the dish to be cooked over an open fire or on hot coals as this adds flavour to the dish. The South Africans call the barbeque a 'braaivleis' which means 'fired meat' and they would never, never, ever put a burger on a barbeque!
 
Traditionally served with a braaivleis is 'stywe pap' which means 'stiff porridge' which is made from mealie-meal and tastes a bit like cous-cous. The natives have a similar version called 'putu'.
 
The stypwe pap is eaten with the meat dish, as you would with potatoes or rice. South Africans serve both potatoes and rice, or potatoes and stywe pap, with the main meal.
 
A native traditional dish is 'putu and kapenta' ... small white fish, and a sauce made from tomatoes. The dish is eaten using the fingers.
 
Mealie meal is a staple food of the tribespeople. And it can also be made as a breakfast porridge when it is served sprinkled with sugar and milk. Mealies (maize) are also eaten on the cob, or chopped and made into a bread called Mealie bread. 
 
A traditional tea is Rooibos tea, which means 'red bush' tea.
 
South African sweetmeats are the 'koeksister' which is like a plaited donought covered in syrup, 'mosbolletjies' which are a type of rusk, and 'mebos' which minced dried fruit packed into little cake-shapes.
 
 

 


 
Zululand / Natal
 
 

 
The route: Swaziland to Durban
 
 
 
Route: Manzini - Big Bend - Gollela (Lavumisa)/(border post) - Mkuze River- (Ghost Mountain) - Hluhluwe River- Matubatuba - Empangeni - Mtunzini - Gingindlovu - Tugela River - Stanger - Umhlali (Salt Rock) - (Shakas Rock) - Tongaat - Umdloti - Umhlanga Rocks - Durban
 
 
The people who occupy Zululand today mostly arrived at the beginning of the 17th century. They called themselves the Nguni, from the leader who had led them southwards on a migration from Central East Africa.
 
Behind these people came an even larger group, speaking the same language as the Nguni, who acknowledged the leader called Dlamini.
 
Both groups liked the area and dispersed into numerous independent clans and tribes.
 
They found only a handful of Bushmen hunting groups living in the area, and minor elements of a people known as the Lala, who were related to the Karanga tribe of Rhodesia. Each clan was independent and they acknowledged no overlord or king.
 
One of the fragment groups was lead by a man named Malandela. They settled in the valley of the Mhlathuze River.
 
When Malandela died his elder son Qwabe stayed on in the valley, and his younger son Zulu left with his followers.
 

The son Zulu wandered westwards through the hills until he came to a valley with a stream known as the Mhumbane which means 'river of the hollow' that was overlooked by a high ridge in the east called Mthonjaneni which means 'place of the little fountain' and a flat-topped peak in the north called Nhlazatsho which means 'mountain of green stones'. The son Zulu settled in this valley and eventually died there.
 
He was succeeded by his son Phunga, then Mageba, Ndaba, and Jama. Each generation saw an increase in their numbers until in 1785 Jama's son Senzangakhona found himself at the head of a tribe. They called themselves abakwaZulu which means 'people of Zulu'.
 
These were the ancestors of the Zulu nation who became the most feared nation of warriors in Africa.

 
Gollela (Lavumisa) means 'gathering place of animals' and was the personal hunting grounds of the Nyawo chiefs. Lavumisa is the siSwati name for the border post.
 
Mkuze Riverwas named after a tree which commonly grows here, the Mkuze Heteropyxis natalensis. About 10kms from here is the Mkuze Game Reserve.
 
 

Ghost Mountain has a peculiar reputation. At times over the years, strange lights and flickering fires are seen among the fissures and cliffs of the summit. Weird noises and strange calls are also heard. The Zulus call the mountain Tshaneni which means 'the place of the small stone'.
 
Some of the Ndwandwe tribe had their homes beneath the mountain until they were conquered by Shaka in 1819 and fled with their leader Soshangane to Mozambique to found a tribe called the Shangaans.  
 
Buried on the mountain are leaders and chiefs.
 
The mountain is also known for a battle which took place in 1884 between Dinuzulu, son of the deposed Zulu king Cetshwayo, with his band of European recruits; and Zibebu, head of the powerful Mandlakazi section of the Zulu nation. Zibebu also had a handful of European supporters including frontiersman, John Colenbrander.
 
The battle, known as the Battle of Ghost Mountain, was vicious and the battlefied was littered with thousands of bodies, whose bones can still be found today.
 
The Mandlakazi fled into Tongaland (now known as Maputaland).
 
Hluhluwe River was named after a species of plant called thorny monkey ropes, Dalbergia armata which grows in the ravine forests. The area has always been teaming with wildlife as the presence of the tsetse fly kept out the hunters. The valleys of the Hluhluwe and the Mfolozi Rivers were proclaimed protected areas in 1897.
 
 

 
 
Matubatuba was named after a local Zulu chief and means 'he who was pummelled out'. The village grew up around the railways line.
 
Empangeni was named after a tree the Zulu called Mpange Olinia Cymosa and the town grew up around a mission station in 1851. The mission later moved to Eshowe. Empangeni is the centre for sugar, cotton, cattle and timber.
 
Mtunzini means 'the shady place' and is nature reserve.
 
Gingindlovu means 'the swallower of the elephant' and was a military stronghold 17kms from the battlefield Ndondakusuka built by Cetshwayo who fought and killed his brothers over the rights of  succession to the Zulu throne in 1856.
 
The Tugela River is the principal river of Natal and Zululand and marks the boundary between the two areas. The Zulus call the river Thukela which means 'something that startles'.
 

 
For many years it presented a problem to travellers as they could only cross the river when it was low. Before the bridge was built, travellers could be stranded for days during the floods, until the river subsided.
 
The British built a fort here in 1878 when they invaded  Zululand in the Anglo-Zulu War.
 

 
 
The 100km stretch from the Tugela River to Durban is
sugar country.
 
 

 
In days gone past a few groups of Lala people settled along the north coast but they were not numerous.
 
The growth of the Zulu nation at the beginning of the 19th century made their existence precarious and most of the Lala people fled or were killed.
 
The trade path from Durban to Zululand was the route followed by ivory hunters, traders, and the Zulu army on its periodic raids into Natal and the Pondo country.
 
Shaka liked the area and during the last years of his life, built his capital on the present site of the town Stanger, called kwaDukuzu which means 'the place of the lost person' because of the complex labyrinth of huts.
 
His successor, Dingane, also had a garrison post here called kwaHlomendlini which means 'place of the home guard', but he preferred the more northerly parts of Zululand for his own residence.
 
It was here in 1828 that Shaka was assassinated by Dingane and Mhlangane, his two half-brothers. Dingane later abandoned the site and it collapsed  into ruins.
 
In 1847 the Milner Brothers who traded with Mauritius, imported seeds and cuttings of crops from Mauritius and Reunion. Included in the cargo were 40,000 tops of an inferior variety of sugar cane known as Mauritius Red Cane. Settlers from different parts of Natal bought the seeds and cuttings and planted the cane on their lands.
 

 
The following year another settler from Mauritius came to Natal to be an overseer on a cotton farm on the Mdloti River. Noticing a crop of the Red cane on a neighbouring farm he persuaded his employer to grow some on a spare piece of ground.
 
It was the start of an industry which today produces more than 2 million tons of sugar a year!
 
Stanger was named after William Stanger, the surveyor general of Natal, in 1873.
 
In a small garden in the centre of Stanger is a stone memorial erected in honour of the Zuluking, Shaka.
 
   

The Sinkwasi River  (near Stanger)
 
Umhlali and Salt Rock are two holiday resorts on opposite sides of the Mhlali River which is named after the monkey orange trees, known by the Zulu as mhlali trees, that grow on its banks.
 
Shakas Rock is believed to have been used as a lookout by Shaka.
 
Tongaat is the Europeanised name for the Tongati River which is named after the Zulu word for the Strychnos mackenii trees growing along its banks.
 

 
Umdloti is named after the Umdloti River, which takes its name from the species of wild tobacco that grow on its banks.
 
Umhlanga Rocks was named after the small Mhlanga River which means 'reedy'. The town is a popular holiday resort.
 
 
Scenically the road to Durban is very varied.
 

 
From Gollela to Empangeni you pass through the lowveld bush of acacia thorn trees where it is hot and dry. The scenery then changes to the lush green swathes of sugar plantations which are a refreshing site. The as the road sweeps along the coast, you get glimpses of the Indian Ocean and where the  road crosses the river mouths the ocean is only a few hundred metres away. It is a very beautiful drive.

 



We used to stay at Umhlanga Rocks at the resort called Cabana Beach. The rooms were laid out in a semi-Spanish style and every one had a balcony view of the ocean. The complex had a games room where us kids used to play table tennis and socialise with other kids who had come on holiday with their parents.
  
While we visited Durban and Umhlanga Rocks we went to visit Ken Hill and his family who lived at Umdloti.
 
Ken and his family ran a restaurant business. His daughter Julie, was a wonderful artist. Later the family moved to the Seychelles Islands near Madagascar.
 
And we also went to visit Bruce and Joy Aiken and their family who lived at Port Shepstone further down the coast from Durban.


 


 
 
Natal South Coast

 
Route: Durban - Amamzimtoti - Illovu - Umkomaas -(Strelizia Coast) - Scottburgh - (Sezela)  - Hibberdene - Umzumbe - Port Shepstone
 
 
The Natal coastline from Durban stretches for 160kms to
Port Edward.
 

 
It is an area of untamed natural beauty. The towns are small and are often just a holiday resort with one or two shops.
 
Amamzimtoti, Port Shepstone, Margate, Ramsgate, and Port Edward being the main centres.
 

 
A 2km ribbon of sub-tropical forest hugs the beach and is the home of wildlife such as vervet monkeys, duikers, bushbuck, wild pigs, and numerous birds which are seldom seen but are constantly heard.
 

 
The forest is also habitat of ferns, orchids, multi-coloured lilies, hibiscus, bouganvilliaea, frangipani, and strelizia.
 
 
 
The trees of the forest are evergreen, mainly Nala, fice, marula, kuhlu (Natal mahogany), and thombe (wild fig).
 
In the mangroves along the river banks and mudflats, lala palms and wild bananas grow.
 

 
Lagoons, rivers and streams break up the coastline and the sandy golden-brown beach is like demarrera sugar.
 
The Indian Ocean surges onto the shore in wave upon wave of white surf.
 

 

 
Amamzimtoti was so named when the Zulu chief Shaka rested on the banks of  a river while on a raid against the Pondo tribe in 1828.
 
He tasted the water of the river and proclaimed it 'Kanti amanza mtoti' which means 'So the water is sweet'.
 
Today Amamzimtoti is a residential area and holiday resort.
 
I went to Amamzimtoti in 1992 as a friend of mine Paul Golesworthy, and his wife Cornell, lived there.

   
 
 
Amamzimtoti 1992
 
I took the kids to the beach but they didn't like it and only condescended to play on the beach while I took the photo. (Again, there are no umbrellas and deck chairs here like there are in Spain lol )
 
Illovu on the banks of the River iLovo, was named by the Zulus because of the mlovo trees growing on its banks. The river flows into a lagoon and the beach is overlooked by a long ridge covered with tall trees, creepers, and flowering plants.
 
Near to Illovu is the little village of Winkelspruit where the schooner, the Tonga, was wrecked in 1875. The schooner was carrying groceries and supplies for shops in Durban and rather than let the cargo go to waste, the salvors set up a store on the beach and sold the water-damaged goods.
 
Umkomaas  gets its name from the large numbers of whales that once used the estuary of the Mkomazi River as a nursery.
 
The Zulus used to watch them playing in the shallows and called the place uMhkomazi which means 'place of the the cow whales'. The town on the south bank was originally a harbour for the export of sugar.
 
A forest of  wild banana trees Strelitzia sps.  grows along the stretch of coast between Umkomaas and Scottburgh and this led to the area being called the Strelizia Coast.
 
 

In this area is the small resort of Clansthal which was named after a town in Germany.
 
Just off-shore is a rocky reef called the Aliwal Shoal named in 1849 when the ship the Aliwal narrowly avoided being wrecked on the the reef. Several other ships have been wrecked on the reef and the shoal is now marked by a lighthouse.
 
Scottburgh was founded in 1860 and named after the governor of Natal, John Scott. The resort stands at the mouth of the Mpanbanyoni River which means 'confuser of birds' because of the complex twists in its course.


iSezela is the Zulu word for 'the one who smells out' which was given to a crocodile living in the area.
 
The beast was a man-eater and terrorised the Malangeni tribe and tradition tells that the crocodile used to hunt like a wild dog following a trail.
 
In 1828 when Shaka led his Zulu army down the coast he heard of the beast and vowed to have its skin. A hunt was organised and the Zulus killed the crocodile with their spears.
 
Hibberdene is a popular holiday resort where fishing, swimming and sunbathing are the local attractions.
 
Umzumbe is at the mouth of the Mzumbe River which means 'the bad kraal'.
 
There was a tribe of Hlongwa cannibals living here that Shaka and his Zulu warriors wiped out when they came down the coast.
 
In the area along the tribal paths are heaps of vivanes, lucky stones, which Shaka and his men collected to appease the spirirts and ensure good fortune when he lead his men into the territory of the hostile tribes.
 
They followed the ancient custom of picking up the stones with the toes of their left feet, transferred the stones to their right hands, spat on the stones, murmured a supplication to the ancestors and placed the pebbles by the side of the path.


 
Port Shepstone stands on the mouth of the Mzimkulu River which means 'the great home of all rivers' as it is the largest river of the south coast of Natal.
  
The town was founded in 1880 and named after Sir Theophilus Shepstone, an administrator of native affairs in the Natal government.
 
In 1882 a party of Norwegian immigrants landed at Port Shepstone who helped to develop the area and the district now produces sugar, marble, lime-stone, timber, wattle bark, and sub-tropical fruits.
 
While we were visiting the Aiken family, my father read about Wild Coast ... the stretch of coast along the Transkei, and its famous shipwrecks.
 
He became intrigued and wanted to visit the places. He also thought it might be an idea to go down to East London, further down the coast, to visit the George Carr and his family who we had known in Zambia and who had moved there from Swaziland.
 
Bruce Aiken raised his eyebrow ... the Transkei Wild Coast was not named 'the wild coast' for nothing!
 
He tried to persuade my father that the territory lacked suitable roads and facilities, but my father was not put off ... afterall what could be more wilder than the places in Zambia?! ... Had he not battled the unknown? Had he not overcome the odds? ... My father scoffed at Bruce Aiken and asked him where his 'pioneer spirit' had gone to!
 

 
 
Natal to the Transkei
 

 
Route : Port Shepstone - Shelly Beach - Uvongo - Ramsgate - Margate - Marina Beach - Port Edward
 
From the Mzimkulu River to the Mtamvuna River on the border with the Transkei the area is noted for its lala palms and the humidity in summer is lower here than in the north.
 
Uvongo is on the River Vungu which is a Zulu word used to describe the sound of a waterfall or the wind in a gorge. The river flows into a sheltered lagoon, and there are tidal swimming pools amongst the rocks
 
Ramsgate was the name given to the town by the surveyor. The river is known as the Bilanhlolo which means 'marvellous boiler' because the water in the tidal pools at the mouth seems to bubble like boiling water. In 1922 the only person living here was a painter and violin maker called Paul Buck.
 
Margate was originally a coastal farm named after the English seaside town.
 
The lagoon at the mouth of the River Nkhongweni which means 'place of entreaty' was named because the tribal people living in the area were reputed to be so mean that travellers had to beg for hospitality.
 
Today Margate is a popular holiday resort with a tidal pool, swimming pools, and a fishing pier.
 
Bruce and Joy Aiken came with us as far as Margate. We spent the day at the beach and then Bruce had second thoughts about continuing the journey, and they went back home to Port Shepstone.
 
There was something about that Transkei route he just didn't like ...

 

 
Port Edward was named in honour of the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII. The beach is overlooked by Tragedy Hill.
 
In 1831 there was a crisis between traders of Port Natal and the Zulu king, Dingane when a discontented warrior spread a rumour that the British intended to attack Zululand. Dingane mustered his army. The traders fled.
 
Some boarded the ship in the harbour, while others made their way down the coast towards the Cape. Amongst these were the family and followers of Henry Francis Fynn, one of the first settlers of Port Natal in 1824.
 
The party reached the Mbilanhlola River where they were attacked by the Zulus who thought that the traders had absconded with cattle belonging to Dingane.
 
Henry Fynn escaped by swimming down the shore, but his son Frank and his dependents, were pursued down to the hill near Port Edward.
 
Here, the Zulus massacred the party. And the hill has been known as Tragedy Hill ever since. Their bones still litter the hillside.
 
When Dingane heard that there was no intended attack by the British and of what had happened, he ordered the execution of the Zulu warrior who had spread the rumour.
 
The task was given to one of the traders, Henry Ogle, who was given 5 head of cattle by Dingane for the execution.
 
 

 

 

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Emdoneni Lodge is situated on a small game farm in the heart of Zululand, KwaZulu Natal, a region rich in indigenous Zulu culture. Emdoneni has its very own Cheetah and Serval Project  with guided tours and also offer open vehicle game drives to Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserves.
 

Coasts of South Africa

 

 


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