'The Zulus are Coming!': The Defence of Pietermaritzburg, 1879.

P S Thompson

Abstract


On the morning of Friday, 24 January 1879, the white residents of Pietermaritzburg found themselves with a temporary scarcity of domestic servants. About Seven O’clock Barbara Buchanan went into the Kitchen, where she met a servant of several years service who remained. “Oh, Inkosazan, you will be very sad today." "why,Tembu?” she asked. He replied: “wait till Master goes to the office."' During the night two officers had ridden down from Grey town with the report of the British army's defeat at Isandlwana to the government authorities? If Buchanan is correct, then the news of it must have spread informally and quickly in advance among the black population.
They could expect scant protection in the event emboldened Zulus raided the enemy seat of power, and fled to families and refuges in the country. The outflow of blacks was followed by an inflow of whites into the city. On Sunday one householder wrote, as though there were nothing atypical
at the time, that he had just lodged a friend with five children, in from the border, and let two rooms to another country family. Some white persons found the city unsafe in any case, and apparently left foi Durban and the sure safety of a ship ready to sail

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