The Boer invasion of the Zulu Kingdom

The Boer Invasion of the Zulu Kingdom, 1837-1840
by Professor John Laband

I recently read the fairly-new book by Professor Laband, detailing the Boer invasion of the Zulu Kingdom, and would recommend it highly.

Most interesting for me is that Laband explores many of the myths that were later carefully cultivated around the war, and does a great job of comparing and contrasting these to historical reality. For most white South Africans, I would imagine their knowledge – if they have any at all – about the conflict, is entirely focused on the one-sided Battle of Blood River: an event deeply engrained in Afrikaner mythology.

Laband’s book shows there was a great deal more to the war than this, and is about as even-handed as one could hope to be; the simple fact – no matter how uncomfortable it might be for some to admit today – is that both the Voortrekkers and the Zulus were warlike, aggressively expansionist people. Neither deserves to be reinvented as the victim of the piece to suit modern-day whims.

If I am being hypercritical, there is, for me at least, a little too much time and space devoted to the minutiae of Zulu life, traditions and habits: I mean, do we really need to know how Dingane’s toe nails and poo were disposed of?

That said, it is an excellent addition to my library, and perhaps the best part of all is picturing the Defenders of the Myth stamping their feet at the “offensive” title, tying themselves in knots to assure one another that it wasn’t a ‘real’ invasion, and frantically trying to re-brand it as a ‘defensive’ invasion – whatever the hell that means. Perhaps they even like to pretend that it was actually (yet another?) ‘War of Independence’.

In the fevered-minds of the True Believers, the poor old Boers were always the innocent victims of every event ever, and only wished to be left in peace, right?


  • TB Posted September 1, 2023 12:34 pm

    Love your analysis Dr Ash

  • Colin Ross Posted September 1, 2023 7:00 pm

    I was at his book signing at Jan Smuts’ House and the author was questioned on his nationality, his research, and his integrity. The Afrikaans contingent were not happy in the least to have their history ripped apart. As Cpl Jones says: “They don’t like it up ’em!”

    • Bulldog Posted September 2, 2023 5:18 am

      Oh yes: the True Believers get very upset when Apartheid-era myths are questioned… how dare we try to take away their cosy comfort blanket of victimhood.

    • James Grant Posted September 2, 2023 7:41 am

      His nationality? What’s that got to do with anything? What – only certain nationalities are allowed to write about history? Talk about clutching at straws!

      • Bulldog Posted September 2, 2023 11:59 am

        Mr Grant, the Defenders of the Myth will come up with anything to keep the truth at bay a little longer. I have been told that I cannot know anything about the war as I am not a South African… which is a completely illogical statement, of course. Indeed, in my experience, certain South African writers / ‘academics’ are the ones who know the least about the war, and who are the least able to be objective about it.

      • Peter Dickens Posted September 2, 2023 11:06 pm

        I know the author, his Nationality is South African, he’s a serving officer in the South African Army and has a Doctorate in Military History from Stellenbosch University, lectures at the South African Military Academy – oh, and he has published three separate books on South African military history, he knows his stuff .. but hey, he’s Jewish – shock, horror – and it seems that matters to some people in South Africa who still hold onto the belief that Jews should understand their place and not comment, nor for that matter should black people, muslims, women or even South Africans of ‘English’ origin – you can get an idea of the type of people we’re talking about – not worth the time to be honest.

        • Bulldog Posted September 3, 2023 4:49 am

          Disgusting to think that antisemitism is still alive and well, and used to True Believers to shut down any discussion of their much-cherished NP myths.

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