A pile of 50 bronze shields guarded by a life-sized leopard sculpture now commemorates for the first time the Zulus who fell at the battle of Shiyane/Rorke’s Drift on January 23, 1879.
An opening has been left on top of the memorial for the planting of an umLahlankosi (buffalo thorn) tree, because of its cultural significance. Nearby, on one side, a cattle byre has been constructed to symbolise a traditional burial.
Following a call for proposals by Amafa/Heritage KwaZulu-Natal, the memorial designed by KZN sculptor Peter Hall of the Karkloof was selected. It was recently placed on the scene of the battle near the memorial to the British and Colonial forces.
This epic encounter closely followed the battle of Isandlwana on January 22 in which the Zulu army was victorious. Later that day the Zulus attacked the mission station of Shiyane/Rorke’s Drift, but were repulsed.
The bronze shields evoke how the dead men were covered with shields by their comrades on the battlefield. Many were later buried in two marked mass graves.
A total of eleven Victoria Crosses was awarded to the defenders of Shiyane/Rorke’s Drift, the most for any battle in British history.
Said Amafa CEO Barry Marshall: “The courage of the Zulus in attacking the defended position at Shiyane/Rorke’s Drift has never before been officially acknowledged. Just as a similar monument to the Zulus was placed at Isandlawana several years ago, so this memorial provides the balance. Brave men on both sides are now recognised.”
He said the memorial would be officially unveiled at a later date.
Further information: Barry Marshall on 082 820 1771
Amafa media release JG/2/2005