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Opening of Parliament 2020 - Castle Closure

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the Castle will be closed to the general public on Thursday 13 February 2020.


Legend Of Isandlwana Lives On

18th November 2018.

 

Zulu King Cetshwayo had been pushed into a war that he never wanted with England. Yet, the first battle of that conflict had the unlikeliest of outcomes, writes Dougie Oakes.

Cape Town – The mood of the congregation was sombre as Bishop John William Colenso stepped up to the pulpit of the Anglican Church in Bishopstowe in the colony of Natal – and started speaking…

Those who expected a sermon full of fire and brimstone were wrong. There were no calls for retribution against the Zulu king, Cetshwayo. There was no finger-pointing (at the Zulu people). And there were no predictions of doom and gloom.

There were deep expressions of sorrow, of course – but what Colenso said was peppered with nuggets of good sense: “We ourselves have lost very many precious lives, and widows and orphans, parents, brothers, sisters, friends are mourning bitterly their sad bereavements,” he said. “But are there no griefs – no relatives that mourn their dead – in Zululand? And shall we kill 10 000 more to avenge the losses of that dreadful day?”

It was March 1879 – and a mixture of anguish and anger was sweeping through the white communities of Natal.

Just a few weeks earlier, Cetshwayo had been pushed into a war that he never wanted with England. Yet, the first battle of that conflict, on January 22, 1879, on a hillside near a towering rock known to local people as Isandlwana, had the unlikeliest of outcomes…

Isandlwana was aptly described as a fight in which “a proletariat army from the world’s foremost capitalist nation was defeated by a part-time force of peasant farmers in a short, bloody and eventually inconclusive battle that rocked the British Empire to its core”.

“The Zulus attacked the red-coated British because they feared for their land and their independence. The British soldiers, drawn from the very poorest level of the working classes, fought back because they had been lured, like Private Moss from Wales, to take the Queen’s shilling’.”

It was a contest between spear and the most modern weaponry of the day, but thanks to a mixture of British arrogance, stupidity and bad planning, it was those who fought with spears who were victorious.

More than 1 500 redcoats, and an even greater number of Zulu fighters, died in the battle.

Cetshwayo was no one’s fool. It had taken a bruising battle – which had later escalated into a civil war – against his brother, Mbuyazi, for him to become the main contender to succeed his father, Mpande, as monarch of the Zulu kingdom.

When he became king in 1872, following the death of Mpande, he was keen to build a good relationship with the British administration in Natal. But he refused to be told how to run his kingdom. He needed to tread a fine line, and in this he succeeded admirably.

But then diamonds were discovered – and matters changed inexorably.

British colonial secretary Lord Carnarvon decided the best way to administer a southern Africa with far greater economic possibilities, but with a growing need for cheap labour, was via “confederation”.

By this he meant a region in which Briton, Boer and every African chiefdom would operate with some independence, under the control of England.

Although it was obvious that Cetshwayo would never agree to such an arrangement, Lord Carnarvon decided that there were many ways to skin a cat.

He left it to his most enthusiastic supporter, his Natal wheeler-dealer, Theophilus Shepstone, to decide how – and when – to bring this about.

Shepstone opted for the tried-and-tested: pick a fight with Cetshwayo and defeat him, using superior weaponry.

The British High Commissioner, Sir Henry Bartle Frere, set the ball rolling by pretending a number of minor border incidents were major threats to the security of Natal. The tipping point came when the sons of a Zulu chief seized two of their father’s adulterous wives in Natal, dragged them into Zululand, and killed them.

Cetshwayo was given an ultimatum: hand over the sons, pay 500 cattle in compensation, and disband his army and his age-group system of military organisation – within 20 days.

There was no way he could comply. All he could do was insist that “the king has, however, declared, and still declares that he will not commence war, but will wait till he is actually attacked before he enters on a defensive campaign”.

In January 1879, British forces entered Zululand – and on January 22 came the shock of Isandlwana.

As Cetshwayo feared, Zulu losses at Isandlwana and, on the same day, at nearby Rorke’s Drift were horrific. And as the weeks passed, casualties mounted at an alarming rate, with serious losses at Kambula and Gingindlovu especially.

Then, on July 4, the redcoats attacked the royal headquarters at Ulundi, razing it and forcing Cetshwayo to flee.

On August 28, he was captured in the Ngome Forest and sent to Cape Town, where he was held at The Castle, while the Zulu kingdom was”dismembered” into 13 parts, each of which was put under the control of pliant chiefs.

A striking figure, Cetshwayo handled himself with great dignity, refusing to be regarded as a curiosity and insisting that he be given European clothes to wear while in Cape Town. Many people who saw him commented that he was not the overgrown ogre painted by colonial officials.

Although he couldn’t read and write, he displayed a remarkable grasp of local, national and international politics. In this he was assisted by Bishop Colenso and his social activist daughter, Harriette.

Cetshwayo fought with dogged persistence to win back his freedom – and the kingdom of Zululand. In this regard, his key weapon was a letter-writing campaign that drew in prominent officials and even the monarch of England, Queen Victoria.

In March 1881, in a letter written from The Castle to Sir Hercules Robinson, the governor of the Cape Colony, he wrote: “I have done you no wrong, therefore you must have some other object in view to invading my land.

“How is it,” he asked, alluding to the fact that Shepstone had backed his ascension to the Zulu throne, “that they crown me in the morning and dethrone me in the afternoon.”

Cetshwayo’s persistence earned him a trip to England to state his case.

There, he impressed as many parliamentarians and ordinary people as he did in Cape Town.

He was freed in July 1883, but his return to Natal sparked a war with his main rival, Zibhebhu. Forced to flee his territory, he sought refuge with the British Resident Commissioner in Eshowe, where he died in 1884.

Cape Times

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By the time you read this message, I hope that students have successfully completed their exams, Mom and Dad finished work and that you all are ready to join your loved ones on a well-deserved year-end break. To you and all our international visitors, welcome and thanks for your ongoing support. We in the tourism industry, is 110% ready to make the long holiday of 2019/20 a festive and ultra-memorable one.

Instead of our usual festive message (wear flat shoes, responsible enjoyment, safety tips, no-drinking and driving, etc.), we would rather share with you the hundreds of interesting things to gaze at, experience and enjoy at South Africa’s oldest operating colonial building – the 353-year-old Castle of Good Hope. 

We strongly recommend that you spend at least half a day to reflect and get a sense of where we come from, where we are and where we are going to in this beautiful land of ours. Here we go:

  1. Check out and feed the millions of Fish in the Moat (water mass around the Castle).
  2. Look and listen to the Indigenous Birds on the Moat.
  3. Swim - yes take a swim (by permission only) in the Moat!
  4. Take a picture at the Canons at the entrance or others scattered all over the Castle grounds.
  5. Take a picture of the two Lions at the Main Entrance.
  6. Then go into the stunning Ceramics Museum and appreciate the original lions.
  7. Take a selfie at the oldest post box (PO Box 1).
  8. Admire our Pyramid (ammunition store) at the main entrance.
  9. Visit the WW1 & WW2 memorials.
  10. Enjoy our excellent guides on one of the Free Site Tours.
  11. Check out and take a picture at the massive Ship’s Anchor left of the main entrance.
  12. Visit the Waterblommetjie Gardens.
  13. If Dutch, check out your Regional Emblem on top of the main gate.
  14. Touch (ouch, the spikes) a real Armoured Door.
  15. Bump into a world-famous Film Star (if filming happens).
  16. If not, visit the film sets.
  17. Chomp on a Castle Burger.
  18. Peek into a 21st Century Conference room in the 353-year Adam Tas Hall.
  19. Take a picture on the only spot where not a single sign of the City is visible.
  20. Hunt your Ghosts.
  21. Get married in a 350-year old chapel.
  22. Participate in a local Khoi ceremony.
  23. Listen to local Ghoema Music.
  24. Take selfies with the Warrior Kings of the Castle.
  25. Embrace the Lady of Good Hope.
  26. Visit the original gravesite of Krotoa (Eva).
  27. Or reflect at Krotoa’s Memorial.
  28. Gaze at the oldest brand (VOC) in the world.
  29. Enter the first, original Parliamentary Chamber in colonial/modern South Africa.
  30. Reflect on life in a Restitution Garden.
  31. Gaze at a deconstructed colonial exhibition.
  32. Have a Picnic on the Lawn (water-restrictions permitting).
  33. Hear a real Canon Firing.
  34. Observe the only Key-Ceremony on the country.
  35. Visit the William Fehr Museum.
  36. Sleepover in a real Jail.
  37. Visit the Military Museum.
  38. Enjoy a bite at the Castle Five-Star (named after the five bastions) Restaurant.
  39. Then visit the Leerdam, Buuren, Katzenellenbogen, Oranje and Nassau Bastions.
  40. Admire the view of Table Mountain like nowhere else.
  41. Be amazed by the original Sea-ward Entrance of the Castle.
  42. Visit the jail of Zulu King Cetswayo.
  43. Imagine seeing Lady Anne Barnard in the Dolphin Pool.
  44. Check out Simon Van der Stel’s Cellar.
  45. Dare to enter the Torture Chamber.
  46. Experience the horrors of real Instruments of Torture.
  47. Locate the real “Dark Hole/Donker Gat.”
  48. Lock yourself up (joke) in an Old Ammunition Room.
  49. Pick up a memento at the Castle Gift Shop.
  50. Enjoy this time-capsule of southern African history and heritage.

I thank you for your continued support and wish you a safe, healthy, happy and blessed holiday season.

Yours in heritage for development

CEO - Castle Control Board

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Latest Events

To see the latest upcoming events at the Castle of Good Hope, click on a day or the month title to display the event(s).

February 2020
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Key Ceremony

TIMES
10:00|12:00 

This showcases the unlocking of the Van der Stel entrance of the Castle of Good Hope by the ceremonial guards of the castle. It is a past practice that is still practised today.

Canon Firing

TIMES
10:00|11:00|12:00 

The firing of the signal cannon was used to indicate that a ship had been sighted at sea and to relay the message to people inside the fort. You can view the firing of an old cannon, performed by the Cannon Association of South Africa.

Guided Tours

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11:00|12:00|14:00|15:00|16:00 

Unearth the hidden history of the Castle with a guided tour led by an experienced guide. Tours operate seven days a week.

 

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