Historical Document Transcriptions, Excerpts, & Links
Colenso, Frances E. and Lieut.-Colonel Edward Durnford, History of the Zulu War and Its Origin (London: Chapman and Hall, Limited, 1881), pp. 1-16.
Frances E. Colenso was the daughter of the Bishop of Natal John William Colenso
. The elder Colenso accepted the Bishopric of Natal in 1853 and served until his death in 1883. He worked with the Zulus and was empathetic to them. Frances Ellen Colenso was one of five Colenso children. She was thirty-two years old when this work was published. Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Durnford was the brother of Colonel Anthony William Durnford. Anthony Durnford and Frances E. Colenso had a relationship prior to the Anglo-Zulu War that was cut short by his death during the Battle of Isandhlwana in January 1879. The Zulus routed the English at Isandhlwana, and Durnford’s superior Frederick Thesiger (Lord Chelmsford) would lay the blame with Anthony Durnford. Colenso was very critical of Lord Chelmsford in her work and sought to clear Anthony Durnford’s record. Her approach to this issue is emblematic of her approach to the causes of the larger conflict—while not letting the settlers off of the hook, she lays much of the blame for the conflict on the misguided and manipulative actions of higher English officials in the region. In the following excerpt, she identifies some of the root causes of the conflict.
See John Laband, The Rise and Fall of the Zulu Nation
(London: Arms and Armour Press, 1997), pp. 149-150; and Gail M. Gerhart, "John William Colenso," Dictionary of African Christianity Biography http://www.dacb.org/stories/southafrica/colenso_john2.html
Questions to Consider
1. In the first paragraph of the selection, Frances E. Colenso summarized what she believes to be the general causes of military conflict between the British and indigenous peoples in the colonies. How thoroughly do these generalizations encapsulate the major causes of such conflict? Would you add any general causes for military conflict to her list based on your reading of the historical documents in this collection?
2. Colenso identified the "first causes" of the Anglo-Zulu conflict in this selection. Based on your reading of the selection, what did Colenso mean by "first causes"? What were the "first causes" of the Anglo-Zulu conflict?
3. What were the major differences between how British officials understood the significance of Cetshwayo's coronation ceremony in 1873 and how Cetshwayo and the Zulus understood its significance?
Rev. George W. Cox, The Life of John William Colenso Bishop of Natal (London: W. Ridgway, 1888), pp. 468-481.
John William Colenso was the Bishop of Natal at the time of the Anglo-Zulu War. He had accepted the Bishopric of Natal in 1853 and served until his death in 1883. He worked with the Zulus and was empathetic to them as is clearly conveyed in George Cox’s biography. This biography included extensive block quotes of letters written by John William Colenso before, during, and after the Anglo-Zulu War. The excerpts transcribed here focus on his correspondence just prior to the outbreak of hostilities and address the precipitating causes of the conflict.
Questions to Consider
1. According to John William Colenso, what were the most immediate causes of the conflict? Could any individual be blamed for inciting the conflict?
2. According to Colenso, what role did the Boers of the Transvaal play in all of these events?
3. Accoridng to Colenso, could the conflict have been avoided? How?