CETYWAYO ( ?–1884), king of the Zulus, was the eldest son of King Umpande or Panda, and a nephew of the two previous kings, Dingaan and Chaka. Cetywayo was a young man when in 1840 his father was placed on the throne by the aid of the Natal Boers; and three years later Natal became a British colony. Cetywayo had inherited much of the military talent of his uncle Chaka, the organizer of the Zulu military system, and chafed under his father’s peaceful policy towards his British and Boer neighbours. Suspecting Panda of favouring a younger son, Umbulazi, as his successor, Cetywayo made war on his brother, whom he defeated and slew at a great battle on the banks of the Tugela in December 1856. In the following year, at an assembly of the Zulus, it was resolved that Panda should retire from the management of the affairs of the nation, which were entrusted to Cetywayo, though the old chief kept the title of king. Cetywayo was, however, suspicious of the Natal government, which afforded protection to two of his brothers. The feeling of distrust was removed in 1861 by a visit from Mr (afterwards Sir) Theophilus Shepstone, secretary for native affairs in Natal, who induced Panda to proclaim Cetywayo publicly as the future king. Friendly relations were then maintained between the Zulus and Natal for many years. In 1872 Panda died, and Cetywayo was declared king, August 1873, in the presence of Shepstone, to whom he made solemn promises to live at peace with his neighbours and to govern his people more humanely. These promises were not kept. Not only were numbers of his own people wantonly slain (Cetywayo returning defiant messages to the governor of Natal when remonstrated with), and the military system of Chaka and Dingaan strengthened, but he had a feud with the Transvaal Boers as to the possession of the territory between the Buffalo and Pongola rivers, and encouraged the chief Sikukuni (Secocoeni) in his struggle against the Boers. This feud with the Boers was inherited by the British government on the annexation of the Transvaal in 1877. Cetywayo’s attitude became menacing; he allowed a minor chief to make raids into the Transvaal, and seized natives within the Natal border.
Sir Bartle Frere, who became high commissioner of South Africa in March 1877, found evidence which convinced him that the Kaffir revolt of that year on the eastern border of Cape Colony was part of a design or desire “for a general and simultaneous rising of Kaffirdom against white civilization”; and the Kaffirs undoubtedly looked to Cetywayo and the Zulus as the most redoubtable of their champions. In December 1878 Frere sent the Zulu king an ultimatum, which, while awarding him the territory he claimed from the Boers, required him to make reparation for the outrages committed within the British borders, to receive a British resident, to disband his regiments, and to allow his young men to marry without the necessity of having first “washed their spears.” Cetywayo, who had found a defender in Bishop Colenso, vouchsafed no reply, and Lord Chelmsford entered Zululand, at the head of 13,000 troops, on the 11th of January 1879 to enforce the British demands. The disaster of Isandhlwana and the defence of Rorke’s Drift signalized the commencement of the campaign, but on the 4th of July the Zulus were utterly routed at Ulundi. Cetywayo became a fugitive, but was captured on the 28th of August. His kingdom was divided among thirteen chiefs and he himself taken to Cape Town, whence he was brought to London in August 1882. He remained in England less than a month, during which time the government (the second Gladstone administration) announced that they had decided upon his restoration. To his great disappointment, however, restoration proved to refer only to a portion of his old kingdom. Even there one of his kinsmen and chief enemies, Usibepu, was allowed to retain the territory allotted to him in 1879. Cetywayo was reinstalled on the 29th of January 1883 by Shepstone, but his enemies, headed by Usibepu, attacked him within a week, and after a struggle of nearly a year’s duration he was defeated and his kraal destroyed. He then took refuge in the Native Reserve, where he died on the 8th of February 1884. For a quarter of a century he had been the most conspicuous native figure in South Africa, and had been the cause of long and bitter political controversy in Great Britain.
His son Dinizulu afterwards attempted to become king, was exiled (1889) to St Helena, permitted to return (1898), and granted the position of a chief. In December 1907 Dinizulu was imprisoned at Maritzburg, being suspected of complicity in the revolt which had occurred in Zululand the previous year. He was kept many months waiting trial, there being considerable friction between the colonial government and the British government over the incident. He was eventually brought to trial in November 1908 before a special court, his defence (to the cost of which the British government contributed £2000) being undertaken by Mr W. P. Schreiner. The trial was not concluded until March 1909. The charge of high treason was not proved, but Dinizulu was convicted of harbouring rebels and was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment.
The Life of Sir Bartle Frere, by John Martineau, vol. ii. chaps. 18 to 21, contains much information concerning Cetywayo.