From Academic Kids

Cetshwayo kaMpande (circa 1826 - February 8, 1884) was the king of the Zulu nation from 1872 to 1879 and their leader during the Zulu War. His name has also been transliterated as Cetawayo, Cetewayo, Cetywajo and Ketchwayo.

Cetshwayo was born a son of Zulu king Mpande, who was a half-brother of Zulu king Shaka. In 1856 he defeated and killed in battle his younger brother Mbuyazi, Mpande's favorite, and became the effective ruler of Zulu tribe. However, he did not really ascend to the throne because his father was still alive.

His other brother Umtonga was still a potential rival and he knew it. In 1861 Umtonga fled to Boers' side of the border and Cetshwayo had to make deals with Boers to get him back. In 1865 Umtonga did the same thing and apparently made Cetshwayo think that Umtonga could try replace him the similar way his father had replaced his predecessor Dingaan.

Mpande died in 1873 and Cetshwayo became king on 1 September. As was customary he created a new capital for the nation and called it uluNdi (the high place). He expanded his army against and readopted many methods of Shaka. He also equipped his impis with muskets. He banished European missionaries from his land. He might have incensed other native African peoples to rebel against Boers in Transvaal.

In 1878 Sir Henry Bartle Frere, British Commissioner for South Africa, began to demand reparations for border infractions. They mainly angered Cetshwayo who kept his calm until Frere demanded that he should effectively disband his army. His refusal lead to Zulu War in 1879. After first defeats British eventually begun to gain victories. After Cetshwayo's capital Ulundi was captured and torched on July 4 he was deposed and exiled to London.

By 1882 differences between two Zulu factions - pro-Cetshwayo Usutus and three rival chiefs including one of his sons Usibepu - had erupted into a blood feuds and civil war. In 1883, the British tried to restore Cetshwayo to rule at least part of his previous territory but the attempt failed. Chief Usibepu, also a son of Cetshwayo, started a war contesting the succession - with the aid of Boer cavalry mercenaries - and on July 22, 1883 he attacked Cetshwayo's new kraal in Ulundi. Cetshwayo was wounded but escaped to Nkandla forest. After pleas from the Resident Commissioner, Sir Melmoth Osborn, the king moved to Eshowe, where he died a few months later, possibly poisoned. His body was buried within sight of the forest, to the south near Nkunzane River. The remains of the wagon which carried his corpse to the site was placed on the grave, and its remains may be seen at Ondini Museum, near Ulundi.

He died in February 1884 as the last king of an independent Zulu nation. Cetshwayo's son Dinizulu, as heir to the throne, was proclaimed king on 20 May 1884, supported by (other) Boer mercenaries.


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