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
the “crushing” of the smaller tribes.
Mosilikatze the "Great Elephant Bull" at the hight of his power.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.