The Bambatha Rebellion (or the Zulu Rebellion) of 1906 was led by Bambatha kaMancinza (c. 1860–1906?), leader of the Zondi clan of the
Zulu people Zulu people (Help:IPA/English, /zuːluː/; Zulu language, Zulu: ''amaZulu'') are an Nguni people, Nguni ethnic group in Southern Africa. The Zulu people are the largest Ethnic groups in South Africa, ethnic group and nation in South Africa with ...
, who lived in the Mpanza Valley (now a district near Greytown, KwaZulu-Natal) against British rule and taxation in the
Colony of Natal The Colony of Natal was a British colony in south-eastern Africa. It was proclaimed a British colony on 4 May 1843 after the British government had annexed the Boer Boers () ( af , Boere) refers to the descendants of the proto-Afrikaans ...
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over Demographics of South Africa, 59 million people, it is the world's List of countries by population, 23rd-most populous nation a ...


In the years following the
Anglo-Boer War The Second Boer War (11 October 189931 May 1902), also known as the Boer War, Anglo-Boer War, or South African War, was fought between the British Empire and two independent Boer states, the South African Republic (Republic of Transvaal) and ...
, British employers in Natal had difficulty recruiting black farm workers because of increased competition from the
gold Gold is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Au (from la, aurum) and atomic number 79, making it one of the higher atomic number elements that occur naturally. In a pure form, it is a brightness, bright, slightly reddish yel ...
mines of the Witwatersrand. The colonial authorities introduced a poll tax £1 () in addition to the existing hut tax to pressure Zulu men to enter the labour market. Bambatha had occasionally been in trouble with the Natal colonial administration, and the authorities suspected that he had joined with other chiefs in expressing discontent over the tax. He was summoned to Greytown, but, fearing arrest, did not attend. He realised that the administration was intent on crushing dissent and fled to Zululand to consult with King Dinizulu. Bambatha returned to the Mpanza Valley to discover that the Natal government had deposed him as chief. He gathered together a small force of supporters and began launching a series of guerrilla attacks, using the Nkandla forest as a base. The British succeeded in getting face to face with and surrounding the rebels at Mome Gorge. As the sun rose, colonial soldiers opened fire with machine guns and cannon, on rebels mostly armed only with traditional
assegai Image:An African soldier or 'Askari' on guard duty at No. 23 Air School at Waterkloof, Pretoria, South Africa, January 1943. TR1262.jpg, An Askari guard at an Allies of World War II, Allied air training school at AFB Waterkloof, Pretoria, South ...
s (spears), knobkerries (fighting sticks) and cowhide
shield A shield is a piece of personal armour held in the hand, which may or may not be strapped to the wrist or forearm. Shields are used to intercept specific attacks, whether from melee weapon, close-ranged weaponry or projectiles such as arrows, by ...

s. It was reported that Bambatha had been killed and beheaded by Natal government forces, but this claim was disputed by his supporters, who believed that he fled to Mozambique. Between 3,000 and 4,000 Zulus were killed. More than 7,000 were imprisoned, and 4,000 flogged. The war cost the Natal government £883,576 ().

Mahatma Gandhi's role

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (; 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was an India, Indian lawyer, Anti-colonial nationalism, anti-colonial nationalist, Quote: "... marks Gandhi as a hybrid cosmopolitan figure who transformed ... anti-colon ...
, who was in South Africa at the time, felt that the Indians in South Africa would do best for themselves to serve the British Empire as a reserve force in the Army against the Zulu uprising. Gandhi actively encouraged the British to recruit Indians. He argued that Indians should support the war efforts in order to legitimise their claims to full citizenship. The British, however, refused to commission Indians as army officers. Nonetheless, they accepted Gandhi's offer to let a detachment of Indians volunteer as a stretcher bearer corps to treat wounded British soldiers. This corps of 21 was commanded by Gandhi. Gandhi urged the Indian population in South Africa to join the war through his columns in ''Indian Opinion'': "If the Government only realised what reserve force is being wasted, they would make use of it and give Indians the opportunity of a thorough training for actual warfare". Later in 1927 he wrote of the event as "No war but a man hunt".


In 2006, the hundredth anniversary of the rebellion was commemorated in a ceremony which declared Chief Bambatha a Folk hero, national hero of post-Apartheid South Africa. Also, his picture appeared on a postage stamp and a street was renamed in his honour. According to speeches in the ceremony, the beheaded body had not really been Bambatha's and the actual chief succeeded in escaping to Mozambique. This belief is still widely current; a DNA test of his alleged body failed to give a definite answer. The hip-hop musician Afrika Bambaataa takes his name from Bambatha and his rebellion.

See also

* First Boer War (1880–1881) * Natal Native Rebellion Medal (1907)




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Further reading

* {{Authority control 1906 in the Colony of Natal 20th-century rebellions African resistance to colonialism Conflicts in 1906 Rebellions in Africa Zulu history