Information and history

ID #3152

Eshowe -- A City Set on a Hill, Zululand, Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Eshowe offers visitors a variety of unusual attractions, the most striking being Dlinza Forest – 250-Ha of tropical rain forest with hiking trails and picnic spots.  See the green coucal or crowned eagles nesting in the forest.  The ironwoods and wild plums give sanctuary to orchids, clivias, bushbuck, blue duiker, narina trogon, Delegorgue’s pigeon and wood owls. Ocean View, Eshowe’s free game park offers hiking, picnic spots and game viewing. Enjoy more energetic hiking at Mpushini Falls.

Eshowe was home to the Zulu Kings Shaka, Mpande, Cetshwayo, and Dinizulu as well as British Military Headquarters.  It was the first British Capital of Zululand during its time as a separate British Colony (1887-1897).

There has always been controversy over the origin and meaning of the name. One explanation as to its origin is word for the sound of cool wind sighing through the trees – the Zulu words “ishoza” or “ishazi” mean a cold wind. It is thought to have been called Eshowe when King Cetshwayo relocated his royal residence here (his birthplace) from mosquito-infested lowlands. It is the oldest town in Zululand. King Cetshwayo was born and died here. King Mpande invited the first Norwegian Missionary, Ommund Oftebro to settle here in 1853.

During the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879, the Zulu besieged troops under Colonel Pearson for 10 weeks near the Kwa-Mondi Mission Station, around which they built the earthworks of Fort Eshowe. The history of the area is captured in the Zululand Historical Museum at Fort Nonquayi, the striking white, mud brick, three-turreted fort established in 1883 as the base for the most unusual Zulu peacekeeping force, called the Nonquayi. It offers a unique look at John Dunn, the only white Zulu chief and husband to 48 wives! Another interesting attraction is the Vukani Museum, housing the world’s largest collection of traditional Zulu arts and crafts. An exciting stopover is a visit to the Vukani Craft shop in Main Street.

Just north of Eshowe is the Nkwaleni Valley, steeped in Zulu history. Atop hills overlooking the valley are the sites of military headquarters belonging to three powerful kings – King Shaka’s Bulawayo, King Dingaan’s Umgungundlovu and King Cetshwayo’s Ondini.   The valley is also known as “The Valley of the Virgin Warrior”. This name reflects the strict discipline imposed by King Shaka upon his regiments. Soldiers were quartered close to the king’s seraglios but were forbidden contact with the maidens under penalty of death.  White traders passed through the valley in the 1860'’s but did not settle. The Zulu abandoned the valley as they fled from the tsetse fly scourge emanating from nearby Ntabana. Dense jungle had overtaken the valley when white farmers settled in the 1920’s. They cleared the forests and drained the swamps, turning it into the prosperous sugar and citrus area it is today.

There are other attractions, including Shakaland and Kwabhekithunga/Stewarts Farm which provides the “Ultimate African Experience”, taking one back to the time of King Shaka.   AZEshowe

Eshowe is on the R68 north of Gingindlovu, which is on the N2 north of Durban, which is at the intersection of the N2 with the N3.


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Last update: 2014-05-12 21:15
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.1

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