World Cup #7 – Short break from the footy

After the Germany’s dismantling of Australia in Durban I asked to get dropped off in Ladysmith, halfway between the coast and Johannesburg. Spent a total of two nights in the town in KwaZulu-Natal province.
Growing up I had an unhealthy obsession with the 1960’s Michael Caine film Zulu, which tells the story of how just over one hundred British soldiers successfully fought off 4,000 Zulu warriors for a day and night at a Swedish mission called Rorke’s Drift in the early days of the Anglo-Zulu war on January 22, 1879. Earlier that day over 1000 British and members of the column’s native contingent had been wiped out by over 20,000 Zulu warriors at the base of a rocky hill called Isandlwana 30 km away.

As the years have passed I have come to see the film a little bit for more of what it is – a British flag waving heroic epic. However, the actual events have always resonated with me and with my family, for some reason. And since I was in South Africa there was very little reason not to make the effort to get to these places.Had to arrange a guide to pick me up from Ladysmith’s Royal Hotel for the day long journey. It gave the opportunity to see a bit of South Africa that I may not have otherwise, driving through country and passing by various unnamed settlements.Though there are none of the original buildings at Rorke’s Drift there are newer buildings in place of them giving a decent visual representation of where the fighting occurred.

Arriving at Isandlwana atop the crest of a hill 2 km away, the unique rock first catches the eye. After a second or two you notice white cairns that mark the spots where the British and colonial troops fell and were later buried.

Isandlwana, in particular, has an eerie feel to it. The peace and calm of the area today hides the terrible carange and violence that occured 130 years ago. But thanks to the markers it is easy to imagine the soldiers and warriors of two opposite empires coming together for the 2 hour struggle.

The slopes of Isandlwana have been left untouched, originally, as a tribute to the British soldiers. Only recently have steps been made to a pay fitting tribute to the brave Zulu warriors who infact won the day, in the form of a sculpture placed at the entrance to the battlefield.

It was good to get a little break from the footy, but now am back in Joberg, ready to get back to shooting. At Ellis Park tonight for USA-Slovenia. Don’t have accreditation yet, but should be ok on the waitlist.

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