Mateku Falls

Andrew Smith, a British doctor, journeyed to Natal in 1832, ostensibly for scientific purposes, but almost certainly operating under instructions. The text includes an account of his visit to Dingane and notes on the different tribal groups which he encountered, the Cape Town Merchants’ Memorial of 1835 and some of the records of the South African Land and Emigration Association.

Thanking Dingaan

‘Thou that are black, thou that art frightful, thou that art like a lion, thou that eats Umfongos, born of Umbogas.’

One individual in thanking uses one set of expressions and another another set.


Salutation on arrival in Dingaan’s presence

The most common salutation is ‘Byatt’. ‘Thou the centre of the circle’, ‘Wild animal’, ‘Red calf’, ‘Thou that art black’, ‘Lion’, ‘Tyger of the people’, etc., etc., etc.

On taking leave they make use of similar expressions.

On passing him on the road, they must perform a circuit of about i~ yards.

When walking behind him [they] must continue at a distance of about three yards.

When the sun is hot and he is out of doors, he has a man to hold a shield over him.

[It is] not permitted to spit, cough or blow the nose in his presence whilst he is eating; punishment for doing either the one or the other, death.

There is a woman living in Dingaan’s kraal who was intended for the wife of his father who never had connection with her. Dingaan calls her his mother, and she can never have connection with anyone. She lives with the king.

The Zoola men allow their finger nails to grow to a very great length, and they pride themselves in keeping them very clean; sometimes an inch and a half long, the thumb ones in particular. They wear the gall bladder of a sheep inflated and attached to the hinder part of the head ring; the gall bladder of black cattle stuffed with fat round the arm. They sprinkle the bile over the body, and drink a little of it. When old men throw away the stuffed bladders others hang them up in their houses and others burn them. They think that by so doing they will have good luck and become possessed of many cattle.

When a woman has a difficult labour they tie a string round each ankle and put it out through the house. Then people pull at it till she is delivered. When delivered a charcoal fire is kindled behind the house and roots burned upon it. The child is then drawn through the smoak every day when washed until it can walk. When a woman is pregnant she goes to the doctor and gets a root which she boils and carries about with her. She drinks a little of it till the child is born, then ceases herself and gives it to the child. When labour is tedious they often kill a cow and the moment the cow falls they say the child is brought forth. The doctor sometimes says that during tedious labour the spirit of the woman’s father or brothers want more cattle, and then the husband must pay more cattle. Umbilical hernia is very common.

When going on to attack they advance in divisions in eschellon [sic]. When the first comes into action the second rushes up and so on. They have three sorts of noise they make in rushing on the enemy, one ‘biz-biz’ through the teeth like to a hive of bees in their flight, another ‘hish’ like to the sound arising from heavy drops of rain falling plentifully upon a dense foliage, and the third a tremendous yell. The ‘biz’ has the most depressing effect upon the spirits of listeners.

When Dingaan leaves the spot where he may have been sitting, the people near where he passes rise up and stand half stooping as he passes and say ‘Byatt’. A party immediately falls in behind him and follows him at a little distance as far as the gate by which he enters to his houses.

A woman was killed by order of Dingaan because she would not marry a man to whom the king had given her. Dingaan assumes the right of taking any man’s daughter and giving her as a wife to any man he chooses without any return. The regiment of women named ‘Englishmen’ were ordered to marry by Dingaan.

The Umtetuas were governed by Tingaswau. Small pox appeared amongst them and destroyed many of them about i6 years ago. The Umtetuas lived between the Umclateuse and Umfolosi towards the coast.

Several men seen amongst the Zoolas are marked by small pox. Amakinguani, another king who supported Chaka in his claim to the Zoola chieftainship, was afterwards attacked and completely destroyed by him.