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
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
Note the 'smart' 1970's fashions!
In this photo you can just see my room. It's the window in the left
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.
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
Paul con Clarke was Brian's friend lived at the YMCA and had a
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
While we were living in Swaziland, and particularly during the
civil unrest in Mocambique, my parents and I used to come to Durban
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
The harbour houses oil tankers and there are oil refineries in
Durban sea front
Shaun on the beach
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!)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Immediately inland from Durban the country rises
steadily and within 20kms reaches an altitude of 400-500
The towns mentioned are on the road to Pietermaritzburg.
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Route: Durban - Amamzimtoti - Illovu - Umkomaas -(Strelizia Coast)
- Scottburgh - (Sezela) - Hibberdene - Umzumbe - Port
The Natal coastline from Durban stretches for 160kms to
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
area is the small resort of Clansthal which was named after a town
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
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
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
While we were visiting the Aiken family, my father read about Wild
Coast ... the stretch of coast along the Transkei, and its famous
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!
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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