Tapestries stolen

on .

The famous Rorke’s Drift tapestries depicting the history of the Zulus and displayed in the former Legislative Assembly in Ulundi have been removed for safekeeping after two were stolen.

“Amafa has removed the 18 remaining ones for protection and custodial care to the Ondini Museum at Ulundi,” said Barry Marshall, CEO of the provincial heritage body. “This was done under the authority of the office of the Speaker of the Legislature. 

“When the state-of-the-art uMgungundlovu multi-media centre opens soon the tapestries will be displayed there. They will be more accessible as the centre is designed to showcase 400 years of Zulu history through exhibits and an imaginative audio-visual. And to be the starting point for the visits to the historic and geographic attractions of the eMakhosini Ophathe Heritage Park. 

“These include the graves of early Zulu kings, King Dingane’s royal homestead at uMgungundlovu, the adjacent Hill of Execution where Boer leader Piet Retief and his followers were buried in 1848 after being killed on Dingane’s command, and the Ophathe game reserve founded to protect black rhino and other endangered species. Umungundlovu’s shared history lends itself to become a place of reconciliation and nation-building. 

“The stolen tapestries show the tribes and rivers of Zululand, and the famous return on horseback of Inkosi Dingiswayo in the early 19th century, the first time a horse was recorded in Zululand. We are appealing for information leading to their recovery.” 

Other tapestries show the early Zulu kings, Prince Shaka and his mother Queen Nandi, King Cetshwayo’s coronation, the battle of Isandlwana and the defence of Rorke’s Drift, and one of life in modern times.”

They were commissioned from the Rorke’s Drift Art and Craft Centre founded in 1962 by the Evangelical Lutheran Church to provide work for tuberculosis patients in rural Zululand. It became a centre of excellence, producing renowned artists, educators and administrators. Their works are now in national museums, private and corporate collections and throughout the world. 

The Legislative Assembly has been empty and unused since 2002 when the KwaZulu-Natal legislature moved its headquarters to Pietermaritzburg.