Rorke’s Drift Part 10 – Zulu Command  

“Faced with the might of the superior army, our heroic warriors knew no fear.  They shed rivers of blood to remain free in the land that was undoubtedly theirs.” – Author Themba Mthethwa.

I think it’s very easy to forget from movies like Zulu and Zulu Dawn that the British were an invading force in South Africa in the late 19th century. Not for the first time, nor the last, an indigenous people were written off and assumed to be nothing more than uncivilised locals who would be easily conquered. 

It’s easy to forget that the Zulus were simply saying no to an ultimatum given to them by Britain. In December 1878 Sir Bartle Frere, British high commissioner for South Africa, issued a ultimatum to King Cetshwayo kaMpande of the Zulu Kingdom that was designed to be impossible to satisfy. The Zulu were, among other things, to dismantle their “military system” within 30 days and pay reparations for alleged insults.

Needless to say war was declared. If the Zulu kingdom would not surrender peacefully then they would be forced to. 

As I painted the Zulu command for this project I couldn’t help but wonder what my response would be if another nation decided they wanted Australia for their own. What my response would be if they sent me an ultimatum. I can tell you right now that I would’ve reacted exactly the same way as King Cetshwayo did. 

Lead by Prince Dabulamanzi KaMpande, half brother of King Cetshwayo KaMpande, an impi (regiment or body of armed Zulu warriors) of between 3000 and 4000 Reserve Zulu warriors headed to Rorke’s Drift in what was basically a mop up mission. Clear off all the British in the area. Dabulamanzi had been at the battle of Isandlwana but there hadn’t been much participation. 

Dabulamanzi (meaning The one who conquers waters) was loyal to his half brother and his family through and through and was an instigator in getting King Cetshwayo restored in 1883. 

Later in life he became the focal figure of anti-British sentiment in the aftermath of the war. 

He was shot and killed at the age of 47/48 after getting into a scuffle with a group of Pro-British Boers. 

As far as other commanders for the Zulus at the battle of Rorke’s drift I couldn’t find any solid information. All I could really find was that “commanders” were used to observe impis and signal movements. To distinguish between different impis the shields were slightly different. Some showing more white and little black others showing more black and/or tan. More on this when I get to painting the warrior ranks. 

As I couldn’t find any specific names I’ve decided to, respectfully, name them myself in honour of the Zulus. 

Unsondo (Zulu God of Thunder and Earthquake) 

Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo (who was actually the son of King Cetshwayo) 

Misuzulu (who is the current reigning Zulu king) 

I am still thoroughly enjoying this project in every way. From painting to researching. 



28 thoughts on “Rorke’s Drift Part 10 – Zulu Command  ”

  1. Great painting IRO. I agree the research is one of the enjoyable parts of the hobby. In my case it is really quasi research as I am wading through pulp literature, movies, and comics at the moment, but still very enjoyable.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Great painting of your Zulu leaders Luke, the research is great as well. You touch on a very valid point as well, with why the British were there, and unfortunately it’s the same throughout human history, if someone has what you want, you will do whatever it takes to get it !

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I try not to get too bogged down in the war part of games, because it’s a pretty sad reality. I think in recent times it gets worse in some ways with asserting divisive political influence, economic sanctioning, hacking, etc. In many countries political actors are dividing the populace with the intent to weaken the country overall and cause revolt. It seems that’s the way modern warfare will continue to go and less of direct conflict. I think there was a saying about getting all the world leaders in the same room and letting them duke it out…there would be a lot less wars! Sorry, just got my mind going this morning. The minis look great, and I’m glad you’re checking out the history and bringing that up while also nailing your re-creation of the events! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I’ve never played a Wargame based on real events, so I can see how one might start pondering it. A good thing overall, and I’m glad you’re diving into this project on so many levels.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m really glad that this project is still inspiring you. The latest minis look great and are pretty cool little sculpts. I’m looking forward to seeing more as you work your way through the large number of infantry minis you have to paint!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Truly inspired work. Both on the painting side and the history side. I’m very excited to see your current progress and looking forward to more. Very impressed with your use of the Zulu names and terms, I still struggle with Aztec ones so I get it. And nobody’s taking on you Aussies, nobody’s that 😜

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Coming on nicely mate, now that you mention it I’ll have to get the Moreland city council to change the name of Mt Bartle Frere in Qld as this guy sounds like an asshole!!

    Liked by 3 people

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