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Thank you for visiting our Internet site about Coenraad's visit to the "land of heaven". Historians and researchers please take note that there is very little on record about his visit to Zululand. All we know is when he left chief Gieka's kraal and that he married Mosilikatze's sister. Therefore this is a fictional account of what could have happened to him on such a visit.

Coenraad travelled further east along the fertile coastal planes through the no-mans land to the proud and ruthless Zulu people. There, in the northern territories of the Zulu kingdom, fifteen years earlier a young boy was born on the banks of the Black Umfolozi river. His father Mashobane, was the oldest son of the chief of the Khumalo tribe. His ailing grandfather gave him the unusual name that meant “the great road”. This boy would carry with him the hope of a better future for the Khumalo's that were territorially trapped between the aggressive Ndwandwe tribe on the one side and the much stronger Mthethwa tribe of king Dingiswayo. He never knew his wise old grandfather because the chief died when the boy was still suckling on his mother, Nompethu. The old man must have foreseen something about him because the boy would spend a lot of time on the road and eventually lead his tribe to a new home hundreds of kilometres to the north. His grandfather should have called him “bloody road” because he left such a trail of death and destruction that it completely changed the socio-economic landscape in southern Africa. Two hundred years later people still shudder when they talk about Mfecane, the “crushing” of the smaller tribes.

Mosilikatze the "Great Elephant Bull" at the hight of his power.

Mosilikatze grew up in the kraal of his other grandfather, Zwide which was the chief of the ferocious Ndwandwe tribe. Even as a boy he grew to be much bigger and stronger than his piers. He excelled at stick-fighting and became known as a cunning and determined fighter with a love for the veld and a passion for hunting. He couldn't help to learn about politics because of the constant squabbles that went on between the greedy Mthethwa and the Ndwandwe tribe. Zwide and his indunas would discuss at length how to get the better of their arch rivals, and the boy listened attentitively. He also noticed how his own tribe, the less powerful Khumalo's were being drawn into the conflict at great cost but little gain for themselves. He learned how smaller tribes could be used as a shield in defence of your own people. His razor sharp mind absorbed all the knowledge about strategy and diplomacy that was demonstrated by the shrewed Zwide. Yet the most dramatic lesson of all, was still to come.

Once a year when the snow was still visible on the mountain of the dragons, those boys and girls that were ready to step into adulthood were shown the way by special teachers. Groups of boys and girls from the surrounding villages would be gathered and taken into the veld for initiation. It was that time for Mosilikatze's oldest sister Ntombi. He didn't know her very well because she stayed at her father's kraal all her life. He did remember that she was a little bit of a dreamer and the silly visions that she had when they were lying on their backs looking at the fluffy clouds. She was convinced that she would as a princess marry a great strong prince from a distant land. He remembered like yesterday how she ran away crying when the other children teased her about her far-away prince.

For almost six weeks the girls were instructed by there teachers and taught how to behave as an adult in Zulu society. A strong bond would develop amongst such a group of girls as they learned to work together as a team. They were instructed in what their specific duties would be as a wife and care-giver in there tribe. Hard work and respect for their husbands and elders was often emphasized. It was understood by all that they should make their father proud and give him the opportunity to charge a high price or labola from any suiters. Many nights there would also be great excitement and they would listen carefully, when their teachers explained the secrets to a man's heart. They understood very well how much a good woman could add to the status of her man. Taking good care of him would greatly improve her own standing and respect in society. Sex and childbirth gets discussed openly and in great detail as a blessing and not as a taboo. Then at the sight of the new moon there will be crying and whaling almost equal to a death in the family.

That would be their last night together as a initiation group. They all have to say goodbye to their teachers and new best friends because the next day each one of them will be taken back to the kraal where they came from and delivered to their fathers with a greeting - “Here is you maiden and she is ready to be a woman now.” She would be welcomed back with open arms and for the next two weeks the family is given the opportunity to fatten them up and prepare them to appear in front of the king. It was a time of great excitement to beautify these maidens and prepare for the journey to the royal kraal. If noticed and picked by the king or any of his royal house is a great honour and could greatly improve the social and political standing of the girls father.

With the rising of the full moon, coming closer and closer, the excitement grew. The beadwork on her tiny dancing skirt needs to be just perfect. Every night her whole body would be rubbed in with a mixture of herbs and animal fat to give her skin a soft and healthy glow. Hours is spent braiding her hair and getting it to shine like the feathers of a crow. It was the young herder boys (like Mosilikatze's) responsibility to gather the longest feathers that they could find. Because Ntombi was from a royal house she had the responsibility of being one of the front-row dancers and she could put red feathers in her hair to signal her claim to royalty.

As a member of a royal family, the young Silkaats accompanied his father, Mashobane on the visit to the King's kraal. Ntombi was very excited to take part in the annual reed dance of the young maidens and her father was quietly hoping to strenghten the family bonds with the house of the king. Great numbers of visitors gathered around the royal residence, many cattle were slaughtered to feed everybody during the festivities. With everyone getting ready for the big day, the young Mosilikatze and a few of his royal friends, took the dogs out to hunt for hares. They almost ran straight into the horesmen when they tried to go around some acasia scrubbary in persuit of one very lucky hare. Children would normally run away when they see a stranger and in the case of Coenraad they would run even further and call out “magoa!” as they run. This boy stood his ground.

Coenraad put his huge hand against the neck of his horse to calm it down and bend forward to take a closer look. Mosilikatze already looked the size of a man and Coenraad only knew that he was still a boy because his penis had the protection of foreskin around it and he wore no “isidla” or penis sheath. It would be another year or two before he would be sent away to attend initiation and be curcumsized in preparation for manhood. Coenraad stepped off the horse and only then did the boy's clear eyes stretch wider in amazement as he looked up at the seven foot giant. A mutual friendship was borne out of respect for each other. This young man of royal descent facilitated Coenraads visit to the king of the Zulu nation, Dingiswayo.

Silkaats first took Coenraad to meet his father Mashobane. This must have attracted a lot of attention, picture this seven foot blonde Boer walking hand in hand with the young black prince towards his father. It didn't take long for them to be surrounded by hordes of black children. Everybody wanted to touch him and they looked at his clothes and the strange hornless beasts that they were riding on. While he was meeting with Mashobane many of the guests and villagers came up to him to touch his clothes and the strange golden hair that was hanging from his head. Mashobane had great difficulty in understanding the purpose of his visit and couldn't understand that Coenraad would travel all the way from the land of the Xhosa just to come and meet the Zulu king.

He did ask Coenraad if he was from royal descend and Coenraad explained that he was. His great grandfather was from France across the ocean. Nobody had heard of a country called France but they were happy to accept that he was from noble descend. In their mind anybody that was the size of Coenraad had to be of strong royal blood and would make an excellent soldier and leader of men. Coenraad and his party camped right next to Mashobane's temporary residence that evening. What he didn't know was that a dreamy pair of dark eyes were watching him from outside the flickering light of their campfire.

Next time more about Coenraad's adventure...

If you are not familiar with the story of Coenraad de Buys and your first contact with us is online: We would be pleased to hear from you! You could visit the main website at www.camelthorngiants.co.za to get an overview of the project and what it is all about. Please let me know what you think or if you have more information or suggestions, I would love to hear from you.