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Ithala: Towns with histories of war

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Ithala: Towns with histories of war


Eshowe is the oldest town in Zululand, and the name is said to be inspired by the sound of the wind blowing through the 4km² indigenous Dlinza Forest, the town’s most striking feature. The town was declared the capital of Zululand in 1887 and officially declared a township in 1891.

Today Eshowe is a market town with a 100km radius catchment area, two shopping centres, a main bus station serving the hinterland, a major hospital and several schools. It is still the seat of the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Zululand, but the colonial home is now on the market for R3million.

The eight-bedroom property, now zoned commercial, was built in 1981 for the Bishop of Zululand and has been refurbished. The original architecture has been retained, but the finishes modernised to offer the tourism industry seven en-suite bedrooms and a manager’s cottage.

By revamping the Ithala Centre Nongoma shopping centre, the provincial development agency has provided skills upgrades and employment for local community members. Picture: Supplied


Also known as Mahlabathini, Ulundi was once the capital of Zululand and then later the capital of the Bantustan of KwaZulu. After the first democratic elections in 1994, when the Inkatha Freedom Party won the right to govern KwaZulu-Natal, Ulundi held provincial capital status alongside Pietermaritzburg for 10 years.

Ulundi now boasts an airport, a three-star hotel and museums among its tourism attractions.

The town was the site of the final battle of the Anglo-Zulu War in 1879. Today a large Zulu hut stands on the site where the British army captured the Zulu royal kraal and razed it to the ground.


Situated 300km north of Durban and 56km from Ulundi, Nongoma is bordered by the Ngome Forest and functions as a busy market town serving a widespread surrounding area.

The town is known for being the traditional home of the current Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, and there are five royal palaces dotted around the residential area.

Nongoma was only established in 1887, when the British built Fort Ivuna as a buffer zone between warring Zulu factions. The fort was using during the Bambatha Rebellion in 1906.

Two Zulu monarchs have been buried in the Nongoma area, namely King Solomon kaDinuzulu (son of King Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo) and his son, King Cyprian Bhekuzulu kaSolomon (father of Zwelithi).

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