Saturday, June 18, 2011


Zulu King Dingane's Attack on Lourenco Marques in 1833

  • Saturday, June 18, 2011
  • Samuel Albert
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  • Source: The Journal of African History, Vol. 10, No. 4 (1969), pp. 565-579
    Published by: Cambridge University Press

    IN 1855 J. William Colenso wrote that he believed that one of the first British settlers in Natal, Henry Francis Fynn, regarded 'the memory of Shaka, notwithstanding his great cruelties, with some respect, and considers him to have been a man of spirit and genius, and not merely a brutal and abominable despot, like his brother Dingaan. He thinks that his severities were, in a manner, almost necessary-like those of Napoleon or Robespierre, to maintain his power.'1

    In a recent paper Felix Okoye2 pointed out that Dingane's 'brutalities' make sense if we accept the same frame of explanation proposed by Colenso for Shaka's actions. Dingane had to deal with problems different from Shaka's, among them those caused by the presence of Europeans living atPort Natal. It would also be somewhat off the mark to regard Dingane's reign as only a period of decay. At least until 1835 the Zulu were still expanding northwards into the area inhabited by the Tsonga. It is even possible that Manukuza Soshangana, king of the Gaza Nguni or Shangana, who is reputed to have sojourned in an area north of the Save river probably between 1836 and 1838,3 left the Limpopo area where he had been living before in order to be less exposed to a Zulu attack.

    Dingane's attack on Lourenco Marques should be seen against this background of Zulu expansion, though the events themselves may be interpreted as a reaction on the part of some Tsonga chiefs and the Zulu king himself to the actions of one particular governor against whom and whose personal dependents their attack was directed. In so far as the hostilities were directed against one person or one group of Europeans only, there is a parallel to Dingane's contemplated attack on Cane in 1831 and to the assault on Piet Retief's and other Boer groups in 1838.

    The main outline of the events described below is known, as they have been treated by A. Lobato, J. D. Omer-Cooper and J. J. Teixeira Botelho, whose accounts differ from that advanced by Theal, who underrated the importance of the Zulu in the area of Lourenco Marques and ascribed to the Gaza Nguni more importance than they had before i840.4 The emphasis therefore is on the social and political conditions between 1829 and 1833.

    Fig. i. The shaded area shows the approximate northern limit of the area inhabited by peoples paying tribute to Dingane in 1835. -- - Modern international boundaries. Ch., Chirinda; Ma., Mamalungo; Mach., Machichongue;MF., Mafumo; M., Magaia; MV., Mavota. Less-known political units only shown for the neighbourhood of Lourenco Marques.

    In 1829 Lourenco Marques was little more than a fortified trading post. A garrison was maintained by the Portuguese government to prevent other European powers from taking possession of Delagoa Bay, but this hardly restricted the activity of British, French and American ships coming to trade.

    The trade was of two kinds: (a) to obtain foodstuffs and (b) to obtain export goods. Export goods consisted of ivory, hippopotamus teeth, rhinoceros horns, slaves, ambergris, etc. (Slaves were important for Lourenco Marques from about 1825 to 1831. They were exported mainly to Brazil and French territories.) Foodstuffs were needed chiefly for the garrison, and consisted of cereals (maize and millet), cattle and (for the crews of European ships) also vegetables. The Africans exchanged these commodities for brass bangles (manilhas de pescofo or m. de mao), beads (several varieties) and cloth (mainly dark blue cotton).5

    It seems that before I826 most of the supercargoes of the ships visiting Delagoa Bay purchased either directly from chiefs and African traders, who were not controlled by the Portuguese, or from the garrison. Governors and officers were trading on a large scale. There was probably only one European who lived on trade alone. To obtain the necessary trade and European consumer goods, many of the Europeans at Louren9o Marques had fixed trade partners in Mozambique or on Brazilian ships. The system of trade changed a little when a trading company, which had received a monopoly for the ivory trade of Delagoa Bay, established a 'factory' at Louren9o Marques in 1826. As it purchased directly from the Africans, it competed with the garrison. This competition had its repercussions in government records.6

    The population which was living inside Portuguese territory in 1829 may be divided into three sections:

    (1) Government personnel, including soldiers, civil servants and their respective retinues of slaves and servants. Two or three Europeans, principally engaged in trade but probably independent from the company,could also be included here.

    (2) The company agent and other employees (probably three to seven Europeans and a number of slaves of the company).

    (3) The African population living in the territory controlled by the governor (three or four hundred at most).7

    It is about the first section that we know most, since the existing records are government records. It is difficult to decide if the neighbouring chiefs were aware of the fact that the Portuguese government had attributed different functions to the first two sections. Perhaps the individual differences and the fact that the exponents of both were Europeans and interested in trade blurred the distinction. The first section was certainly the larger. In I830, for example, it consisted of eight officers, 73 soldiers (many of them natives), and several civilians.8

    The structure of the population was different from that of Inhambane, the next Portuguese settlement up the coast, and also from that of Port Natal, a settlement of British traders founded in 1824. At Inhambane there was a comparatively large civil population made up of Christians and Muslims dependent on trade and subsistence cultivation. Inhambane also possessed a municipal organization equal to that of other small Portuguese towns, something which did not exist in Lourenfo Marques. A common feature with Louren9o Marques was the nearly complete absence of Indian traders from Diu and Gujerat (Banians), who probably did not begin to arrive until about 840. At Port Natal there were no agents of any European government. The traders staying there with their African retinues did not live together, and they only united when special issues were at stake.

    The size of the native population subject to the Portuguese depended partly on the activity of the governors. In the nineteenth century they nearly always exerted some kind of suzerainty over part of Mafumo, the chiefdom in which the fort was situated. The other chiefdoms near Delagoa Bay (Maputo, Tembe, Matola, Moamba, Mavota, Magaia-see map) were not subject to the Portuguese in 1829.

    Relations with Moamba and Maputo, and probably also with Magaia,had been mostly friendly. Between Mafumo and Mavota, and consequently also between the Portuguese and Mavota, there had been military engagements in i8I3-4.9 In 1824 the governor, Miguel Lupi de Cardinas, was killed in Matola with some 45 soldiers after attempting to conquer Mavota,which had been tributary to Matola. The remaining Portuguese had to enlist help from Tembe against Matola.10 On the arrival of Cardinas's successor, Schmid von Belliken, the fighting ended.11 Peace with Matola seems to have been maintained until 1830, or so long as the governors did not revert to the policy of expanding the Portuguese territory.

    The type of government of these chiefdoms, or small states, was a kind of monarchy. They would come into Vansina's category of 'regal kingdoms', as it seems that most of the district chiefs belonged to the patrilineage of the chief or king.12 Probably none of these states had more than 15,000 inhabitants, possibly often much less. The more powerful and able of these chiefs exerted some kind of hegemony over their neighbours. Sometimes they even tried to incorporate the territories of weaker neighbours into their own chiefdoms; for example, the chief of Matola attempted to take over Mavota and part of Mafumo in I833-4.


    Some years before 1829 a major change had begun to take place in the political structure of South East Africa. In the course of this process, which has received considerable attention from historians in recent years,the Zulu state under Shaka expanded very quickly.13 When Shaka became king in about 1816, he was the head of a small vassal state of the Mthethwa. When he was assassinated in I828, he was the ruler of the larger part of Natal and of some adjoining territories. Shaka's wars appear to have been the reason why several groups, probably numbering a few thousand each,left northern Natal in about 1820. From oral tradition it is evident that three or four groups passed not very far from Louren9o Marques, but the names of only two of these are to be found in contemporary reports on Delagoa Bay. In Portuguese letters from Lourengo Marques there is also information that one group-hitherto unidentified-attacked chiefdoms in the vicinity of Louren9o Marques (among them Tembe, Matola, and Moamba) in July 182I and even menaced the Portuguese settlement itself. The invaders were pacified by presents of beads and manilhas.14 It is possible that they belonged to either Soshangana's (Manukuza's) or Zwangendaba's Nguni, who were to come into contact with members of W. F. W. Owen's expedition in the following year.15 These two groups lived for a few years not far from Lourenco Marques, and probably collected tribute in Tembe and neighbouring chiefdoms. In about 1824 or 1825 Zwangendaba, who already in I822 had been located a little north of Soshangana, moved to what is now the northern Transvaal, and in 1835 he crossed the Zambezi.16 Soshangana, founder of the kingdom of the Gaza Nguni, continued to live south of the Zambezi. In about 1827 he moved on to the Limpopo,17 probably in order to avoid being too close to Shaka's territory.

    Shaka, king of the Zulu, was known in Maputo in 1823. H. F. Fynn, who visited chief Makhasana of Maputo in that year, recorded that the chief had 'only lately' offered his daughter Shishaka to Shaka for '55 bullocks. He [i.e. Shaka] refused to give that price and sent a small band of Orentonts [Nguni, in this case Zulu] to take her by force, which however they did not accomplish.'18 The missionary, Threlfall, who visited Makhasana in September of the same year, did not mention this incident, but stated that he met some of Shaka's subjects in Maputo.19 I assume that Shaka did not yet dominate Maputo at that date, though he may have intended to show his superior power by refusing to pay for Makhasana's daughter. But both Maputo and Tembe were probably his tributaries when his troops suffered a reverse in a battle against Soshangana on the banks of the Nkomati in 1828, at about the same time as he was murdered.20 Jose Antonio Teixeira, who then governed Lourenco Marques, reported that it had not been touched by the wars among the natives, but that he had had to pacify Makhasana and Soshangana with saguates (presents or tribute).21 This, incidentally, seems to be the earliest of the surviving Portuguese references to Soshangana, written more than
    six years after he had been met with near Lourengo Marques by members of W. F. W. Owen's expedition. There is silence concerning trade between Shaka and the Portuguese22 and concerning exchanges of embassies between them. This may be because the trade belonged to the private sphere of the governors and most embassies were about trade, but in addition one has to take into account the fact that only a small fraction of the letters written by the governors has been preserved. This lack of evidence could indicate that contacts with Shaka were less frequent than with his successor Dingane, whose name appears several times in Portuguese documents. On the other hand, it is interesting to note that, in an account of the Nguni invasion mainly based on oral tradition collected about seventy miles north of Lourenco Marques, Dingane's name does not appear at all, though Shaka's does.23 Possibly Shaka's wars were subsumed under those of Dingane.


    On 6 October 1829, little more than a year after the death of Shaka, Dionisio Antonio Ribeiro succeeded Teixeira as governor of Lourenco Marques.24 He had occasion to send an official embassy to Dingane when, two months after his arrival, on 10 December 1829, some Portuguese arrived from Dingane accompanied by people sent by the Zulu king. The Portuguese had wanted to go from Sofala to Mozambique by boat, but had been shipwrecked at Port Natal. There they had been well received by one of the British settlers, who had also accompanied them to Dingane as an interpreter.25 Ribeiro immediately sent a present as thanks for the good reception.26 The Governor-General at Mozambique did the same some months later, and addressed a letter to the serenissimo Reis dos Vatuas-Tingane.27 According to Ribeiro, this second present, which was accompanied by another to be conveyed to the Englishman at Port Natal who had helped the shipwrecked travellers, was refused by Dingane, who said that the beads were big and not small like those an independent Portuguese trader at Lourenco Marques, Nascimento28, had sent, apparently at about the same time. Ribeiro reports that Dingane then transmitted a message to Louren9o Marques that he should become his tributary 'as all the other kings' of the area. He should send a saguate like Nascimento, otherwise
    he would come with his people and make Nascimento governor. Ribeiro wrote to the Governor-General that he answered by showing the messengers artillery and giving them two cannon-balls and two cartridges, saying that these were the finest beads he had to pay tribute with. Dingane was said to have answered by sending seven head of cattle, saying that he had been misled by Nascimento.29

    The report on the bad reception of the presents, Dingane's message, etc., is dated 30 October 1830. The presents themselves had been sent between 21 May and 15 June.30 By 21 July, those who had accompanied them had not yet returned. But at that date Ribeiro had already suggested that the Governor General should force Nascimento to retire to Mozambique.31 At the beginning of August, when Dingane asked Ribeiro to become his tributary and threatened to make Nascimento governor, Nascimento fled on a French ship.32 It may be that Ribeiro's description as well as Dingane's final answer were influenced by these circumstances. In any case, Dingane's offer to make someone else governor is quite interesting, as it is what seems to have taken place three years later. The offensive present of cannon-balls and cartridges did not pass unnoticed, as it was mentioned when Ribeiro was executed three years later. But for the time being there was no sign of a worsening of relations between Dingane and the Portuguese governor.33

    From December 1830 until May 183I the Portuguese, aided by African allies, made several expeditions against a son of the chief of Matola, who governed Mavota, and also against the chief of Matola himself. In January 183I there were even one hundred men from the 'king of the Vatuas' among the allies.34 Although the name of this king is not given, it seems probable that it was Dingane, for in July Ribeiro wrote in a letter givinginformation on St. Lucia Bay:

    ... Dingana had already had for a very long time a war with a certain king of that place. The said Dingana, however, could never win. He therefore sent to ask me for help to beat the aforementioned king. In consequence of his having offered himself promptly when he knew of the war which I had with the king of Matola, I decided that it was my duty to help him in identical circumstances and sent him 5 soldiers and 5 negroes, good marksmen from this settlement, provided with powder and balls. This was sufficient for Dingana to win...within two days....35

    In April 1832 Ribeiro received the tribute of corn from the chief of Matola which had been agreed upon in 1831.36 In January 1832 the Portuguese flag had been hoisted in Magaia. Before July of that year, Ribeiro had also conquered a small territory between Mavota and Magaia, Libombo, and hoisted a flag in Chirinda.37 In April of the following year the Portuguese flag was hoisted in Moamba.38 It seems that this was done without warfare and that the expeditions against Mavota, Matola, and Libombo between December 1830 and July 1832 were the only wars Ribeiro made on his neighbours. The agent of the trading company reported later that Ribeiro had these flags hoisted, having been assisted in some way by Soshangana, king of the Gaza Nguni,39 who lived on the Limpopo River at this time (see map). If this were true, it could account for later difficulties with Dingane, as Soshangana was not on good terms with the Zulu king. Ribeiro himself does not mention Soshangana in any of the letters which are now in Lisbon. But as these letters do not contain any evidence on the relations between Dingane and Ribeiro during the latter half of 1831 or in I832 either, the account given by the agent of the trading company, Nobre, may be regarded as reliable. From his account,which is the fullest which exists on the death of Ribeiro, it can be inferred that Ribeiro sent a present or tribute to Dingane in 1832,40 but no details are given as to when and how relations between them worsened. They were already bad in May 1833. On the 28th of that month he asked the government at Mozambique to send a saguate to Dingane

    that might not happen what has happened this time, that he, not satisfied with the saguate I had sent him, immediately sent order to all the kings of this region to close the ports and not allow anybody to come and sell anything to this fort.

    He sent a sample of the beads used by Dingane, big manilhas and dark cloth, and explained

    ... the negroes now have very critical eyes; they were accustomed to the abundance, which existed in the times of the slave trade; the answer they give is that the white people always have money and don't want to give it to them.41

    Perhaps Ribeiro only describes one aspect of his difficulties with Dingane, as the slave trade with Brazil had become illegal in February 1830, and Nathaniel Isaacs, who visited Lourenco Marques in 1831, declared that trade depended entirely on the export of ivory.42


    Two months later, on 26 July 1833, a Zulu army accompanied by auxiliaries from Matola and Maputo appeared in front of Lourenco Marques and burnt some of the native villages nearby. Two days after this it received a large present for Dingane from Ribeiro and retired. Troops from Matola, however, continued the hostilities (mainly, it seems, against natives of Mafumo). In September, about forty days after the Zulu army had retired, a warning came from chief Makhasana of Maputo advising Ribeiro to leave Lourenco Marques. The Zulu had arrived in Maputo and had sent to Tembe, Matola, Magaia, Chirinda, and Moamba for auxiliaries in order to make an attack on the Portuguese fort. Ribeiro retired to Chefina Island, about ten miles east of Louren9o Marques. Nobre, the factor of the trading company, who was against leaving Louren9o Marques, and some soldiers were left in the settlement. On 17 September, eight days after the warning given by Makhasana, the fort-but not the houses of the company-were sacked by the Zulu. Nobre had persuaded the soldiers not to offer resistance. He also gave a saguate and asked for and
    received ten Zulu to protect him from the Zulu auxiliaries.

    Ribeiro stayed three more weeks on Chefina Island and left on 7 October in a boat, because on the same day Zulu troops had taken up positions on the mainland opposite Chefina, and his allies from Mafumo and some soldiers had fled. According to Nobre's detailed report, Ribeiro wanted to go to Magaia and from there to Soshangana (whom he had invited toattack Matola43), but was driven to the coast by bad weather before he got there. Three of Ribeiro's men were killed, and he himself captured, taken to Lourengo Marques on the 12th, and executed on the following morning.

    Nobre says that the Zulu leaders had already told him on 16 September that they had orders from Dingane to kill Ribeiro. He also reports that before the execution a speech was made to the governor and to all present with the following content:

    This governor will die because of his treachery and tyranny-for having usurped the land of the King Dingana and [of] Machacana, made war on him without motive, sent his people to Mozambique..., having had flags hoisted in the lands of those kings without their consent [and] under the force of arms, [and] sent powder and ball to King Dingana.44

    During the next ten months, Nobre, who after the sacking of the fort was the only one able to dispose of a large amount of trade goods, acted as governor, though he would not have been acceptable to the government in Mogambique. From October to July he sent six embassies to Dingane and received eight from him. Usually more than 35 days passed before the envoys sent to Dingane returned with an answer. From March onwards, the Zulu leading the embassies were not the same as the two who had led the war. One of the Zulu leaders of the troops which had attacked Lourengo Marques was said to have been executed by Dingane.45

    The fact that Nobre had taken over the functions of the governor was reported by Ribeiro's successor Vasconcellos in October 1834 in the following words:... Machacane and the Vatuas [Zulu] had entrusted this agent with the government...46 Nobre says that he insisted on two occasions that the Government and the company were different institutions, but it seems that these protests had no effect.47

    The British trader, Henry Francis Fynn, who had visited Dingane's kraal probably in May 1834, and met there two Portuguese subjects, largely supports Nobre's account of Ribeiro's death:

    During my visit to Dingaan, I had some conversation with two Portuguese soldiers from Delagoa Bay. I was very much surprised to hear from them that their Governor Deneis [Dionisio Antonio Ribeiro] was put to death on May last [sic] by a commando from the Zoola chief, and the present Governor was named Newburg [Nobre]. After hearing the whole of the circumstances, I determined on questioning Dingaan, having doubts as to the possibilities of his putting to death a governor who had fort and soldiery under his command, and including, if true, how improbable it appeared that another governor so directly after the occurrence should be on such amicable terms with Dingaan as to send him presents of brass and beads, for which purpose the soldiers had come. On my questioning Dingaan,he shewed evident symptoms of surprise, and asked who were my informants;
    and when I acquainted him appeared much to regret I had gained the intelligence: After a few moments' consideration, he told me, almost in the same words as the two soldiers, that he had sent to the Governor to demand a quantity of brass, which was refused him, under an appearance of his having none. Dingaan knowing he had brass [i.e. manilhas], sent a force to put him to death. But the Governor, having previously heard of the force coming, proposed giving 100 large bangles to pacify his anger. The force returned with the brass, but on their arrival at Dingaan's he ordered them immediately to return and fulfil his former orders, when they succeeded in putting him to death.48

    A little less than a month after Fynn's account had been published in Grahamstown, another European trader, Collis, wrote a somewhat differing account at Port Natal:

    ... in my relations with the king of the Zoolahs, he shows every disposition to continue upon the most friendly terms, and is determined to punish all those that ran away from him last year, and circulated reports, tending to alarm the white man. He has executed two, since my return, for this offence. In my dealings with him, he has acted with the greatest fairness, and has supplied me with 4,000 lbs of the very finest ivory.. .and swears he will not, in future, deal with any other; I have so happily hit his taste, as to beads and cloth...

    And then, turning to Lourenco Marques: 'The governor (Dennis), a Swiss [sic], has been assassinated by the Captain second in Command. An attempt was made to induce me to believe that he was killed through the influence of Dingaan; but this was said, merely to intimidate me...'49

    Fynn's report about Lourengo Marques had been published at a critical moment. Dingane, Collis and another trader, Cane, were trying to convince the governor of the Cape and the South African public that rumours circulating in the previous year that Dingane contemplated an attack on Port Natal had been unfounded, and that he desired 'to continue on friendly terms with the white people'.50 By his account Fynn showed that this rumour had some foundation. Though Dingane's friendly disposition in I834 cannot be questioned, there is not sufficient evidence to support Collis's report that the governor had been assassinated by the second in command (or by Nobre). In June 1835 two envoys of Dingane stated at Lourenco Marques that Ribeiro had been killed by Nobre and Machakane of Matola.51 But this statement was made more than a month after the Portuguese there had begun to collect evidence against Nobre. It is also inconsistent with the fact that Machakane was a vassal of Dingane and in the presence of Zulu52-would hardly dare to attack a trading post not entirely unimportant to Dingane. There can be little doubt that the Zulu king gave orders for Ribeiro to be killed, but denied this later in order to create a more friendly climate when dealing with Europeans. It is possible that Dingane acted on the initiative of Machakane of Matola, and was well informed about the internal dissensions among the Portuguese.

    Okoye has drawn attention to the fact that Dingane always tried to avoid conflict with the Europeans in general, perhaps contrary to what they expected. Also, in the case of Ribeiro the Zulu limited their hostilities to his interpreter, two soldiers who were caught with him, and the soldier who had brought the cannon-ball and the cartridges to Dingane in 1830. The fact that some Zulu were especially commissioned to kill this soldier too53 indicates that the motive Fynn mentioned in his report (Ribeiro's refusal to send a present when he had the means to do so had to be punished) was only a minor issue. Dingane may have wanted to punish someone who on several previous occasions had acted too independently. He certainly knew that there were two rival groups in Lourengo Marques. Unfortunately nothing is known about Nobre's and Machakane's relations with Dingane before the Zulu troops took possession of the fort in September 1833. It cannot be excluded, therefore, that one or both of them gave information to Dingane convincing the Zulu king that Ribeiro was disloyal.

    Fynn's and Nobre's reports would suggest that Dingane regarded Ribeiro as his subject and simply acted accordingly, placing less importance on his being white than the Europeans did.

    In the published accounts which are based on oral tradition there seems to be no reference to Dingane's attack on Lourenco Marques. This may be of methodological interest. Was the attack an insignificant incident in the eyes of the Zulu, or was it something which Bryant and others came
    to know about but did not publish because it would contradict Theal, who had stated that Soshangana had been the author of the attack? (Theal's version had been available since 1896.54)


    From October I833 to March I834, Machakane of Matola, whose troops had done most of the fighting, was collecting the fruits of the victory. He put several of his sons in charge of Mafumo55 and frequently sent some ivory to Nobre, exacting much more than its value in return. According to Nobre, the chiefs of Tembe and Maputo had informed Dingane of Machakane's requisitions before he did so himself. In March he asked for and received five Zulu to protect him from Machakane's extortions. In April Dingane ordered communications, including trade, between Matola and the Portuguese to stop. (This is a parallel to the measures taken against Ribeiro in May 1833.)

    On 9 June 1834, Nobre was informed confidentially that Dingane was planning a war against Machakane. The chief of Matola was to be attacked from two directions; one of the armies was to cross from Tembe to Lourenco Marques in Portuguese boats. At the end of June, Matola was in fact attacked. But as the chief and the population had fled to Moamba, and the invading troops, composed of contingents from Maputo and Tembe and a number of Zulu,56 retired after some seven days, there was not much fighting. A consequence of Machakane's defeat was the revision of his recent territorial arrangements. His sons who had been in charge of Mafumo had fled with their father. The chief of Mafumo, who with his people had found refuge in Magaia, was now called back in the name of Dingane by some of the Zulu.57

    On 21 August 1834, Ribeiro's successor, Dario Rodrigues de Vasconcellos, arrived at Lourengo Marques, where he had already stayed in 1829 and I830. Two days after his arrival, an embassy came from Dingane, asking for the saguate (present or tribute). It was explained that owing to
    the current difficulties of the Portuguese government (the civil war, which the constitutionalists had won, had only ended a short time before) saguates could not always be given. The embassy returned before 9 October, demanding about five times as much as had been given by Nobre in September I833.58 In Lisbon there is no document stating how much was actually paid to Dingane's envoys. In the following year another saguate was requested.59

    In 1834 the Zulu were firmly holding the whole northern shore of Delagoa Bay and probably most of the chiefdoms south of the Nkomati.60 But it seems that they never advanced much farther. One reason may have been that the Swazi shook off Zulu rule in 1835 or 1836 61 The Swazi (and, of course, the Boers) occupied the attention of Dingane from 1836
    onwards. Lourenco Marques was apparently only menaced again by Zulu in 1847.62 By then, however, the Zulu had lost the northern shore of Delagoa Bay. But south of it, in Tembe and Maputo, they retained some influence until 1879, the year Cetshwayo was attacked, beaten and exiled. In Cetshwayo's time the Zulu still maintained diplomatic relations with the governors of Lourenco Marques, and received from Maputo a 'tribute of cat and monkey skins, dark cloth or zuartes, manilhas and even money'.63


    The reasons for Dingane's attack on Lourenco Marques in 1833 may have been (a) the policy of expansion pursued by governor Ribeiro, which Machakane of Matola and perhaps Dingane himself may have tried to check, (b) lack of caution in treating Dingane, (c) perhaps also inability to meet Dingane's demands (this may have been due to economic difficulties after the partial breakdown of the slave trade in 1830), (d) the fact that Ribeiro probably maintained relations with Soshangana (which has been stressed by Lobato). Dingane seems to have regarded the governor as one of his subjects, although the Portuguese did not regard themselves as his subjects but as depending on Mozambique.

    In the period I830-1838, the Zulu seem to have been more important for LourenCo Marques than any other Nguni group, as they were dominating many of the territories near it. In that period the Zulu empire included people of a language different from that of the majority, who do not seem to have been integrated into the Zulu nation through the national regimental system in the same way as Nguni groups subjected by the Zulu. In 1831-4 Zulu armies fighting near Lourenco Marques consisted of a few hundred Zulu warriors assisted by groups of auxiliaries (probably totalling 2,000-3,000 men) furnished by the local chiefs.

    The Zulu king did not take sides permanently. In 1831 his men fought with Ribeiro against Matola, in 1833 with Matola against Ribeiro, and in 1834 with the Portuguese against Matola. A short account of the trade system, of the population of Lourenco Marques, and some data on Nguni migrations are also given in order to provide a background for the article.


    1. John William Colenso, Ten Weeks in Natal: A journal of a first tour of visitation among the colonists and Zulu Kafirs of Natal (Cambridge, 1855), 224.
    2. Felix N. C. Okoye, 'Dingane: a reappraisal', J. Afr. Hist. x, 2 (1969), 237-52. I am indebted to Professor J. D. Fage for sending me an advance copy of this article and for some constructive criticism on an earlier draft which also benefited from helpful comments from Dr Shula Marks and Mr David Hedges. I also have to thank Janet Hinshaw and Peggy Luswazi for correcting my English.
    3. cf. A. Grandjean, 'L'invasion des Zoulou dans le sud-est Africain,' Bull. de la Soc. Neuchdteloise de Geogr. xi (I899), 75-7; G. Liesegang, Beitrdge zur Geschichte des Reiches der Gaza Nguni im sidlichen Mofambique, 1820-1895 (Koln 1968), 51-2.
    4. Alexandre Lobato, Quatro estudos e uma evocadao para a historia de Lourenfo Marques(Lisbon, 1961); John D. Omer-Cooper, The Zulu Aftermath (London, 1966), 43; J. J. Teixeira Botelho, Hist6ria militar e politica dos Portugueses em Mofambique de 1833 aos nossos dias (Lisbon, 1936); G. McC. Theal, History of South Africa from 1795 to 1872, v, 3rd ed. (1920), I28-40.
    5. cf. Lobato, Quatro Estudos; [Henry Francis] Fynn, Delagoa Bay, in Theal, Records of S.E. Africa, II, 479-488; Francisco Santana, Documentaf do Avulsa Mofambicana do Arquivo Historico Ultramarino, I (Lisbon, 1964), 902, II04; Nathaniel Isaacs, Travels and Adventures in Eastern Africa, ed. L. Herrman (Cape Town, I936-7), II, 280-3. When Isaacs visited Delagoa Bay in June/July I83I, he found II ships there, most of them American whalers.
    6. Lobato, Quatro Estudos, 123-8, Santana, Documentafcdo, I, 202-4, 215, 268, 535, 572 and passim; Lisbon, Arquivo Hist6rico Ultramarino (A.H.U.), Mo9. Cxa 77, X. Schmid v. Belliken to GCG, 2I July 1826. Portuguese government staff in East Africa was still at that time generally paid with cloth supplied by the government, and mainly used it to trade with. Guns or muskets, a staple of the trade with the Makua in northern Mo9ambique, do not seem to have been in demand at Lourengo Marques at this time.
    7. For a contemporary description see Santana, Documentaao, I, 1IO4, I Apr. 1829. It seems that the number of the company's employees dwindled, perhaps for reasons of economics, from seven in 1829 to three in 1833.
    8. Santana, Documentafdo, II (1967), 417.
    9. Arquivo Hist6rico Ultramarino, Lisbon (A.H.U.), Mo9. Cxa 57, G. Ramos to GCG Abreu e Menezes, 2 Dec 1813; Cxa 58, Ramos to Menezes, 20 June 1814. The people of Mafumo were assisted by Colela of Moamba, whose father seems to have had the same dominant position which Machakane of Matola held over chiefdoms near Louren9o Marques from about 1823 to 1830.
    10. W. F. W. Owen, Narrative of Voyages to Explore the Shores of Africa, etc. (London, 1833), II, 21-3; Theal, Records, Ix, 41, 46-8 (Whitworth to Nourse, 29 Apr. 1824, information derived from the Rev. Threlfall). Cardinas died on 23 Febr. 1824. Lieutenant Antonio Pedro Teixeira, who had taken over the command after Cardinas's death, was killed in Tembe before his successor Belliken arrived.
    11. A.H.U. Moc. Cxa 75, G. Schmid v. Belliken to GCG, 22 Mar. I825; cf. Lobato, Quatro Estudos, I 6. The description of these events in M. V. Jackson Haight, European Powers in South-East Africa (1796-1856), I96, is not quite correct.
    12. J. Vansina, 'A comparison of African kingdoms', Africa, xxxII (I962) 332. For a definition of 'state' see J. W. Garner, Political Science and Government (New York, 1928), 52. Evidence on the structure of chiefdoms is to be found in H. A. Junod, The Life of a South African Tribe (London, 1927), I, 409-10.
    13. Cf. Omer-Cooper, Zulu Aftermath, 27; Leonard Thompson, 'Cooperation and conflict: the Zulu kingdom and Natal', in: The Oxford History of South Africa, I (Oxford,1969), 336 seqq. for a summary of the explanations proposed until 1965.
    14. Lobato, Quatro Estudos, Ioo-3. The invaders were not Swazi as Lobato supposed. It is also possible that they belonged to an army sent by the Mthethwan king.
    15. Owen, Narrative, I, 93-5, 142-4.
    16. Owen, Narrative, I, 142; E. Gottschling, 'The Bawenda', J. Roy. Anthr. Inst. xxxv (1905), 366; J. A. Barnes, Politics in a Changing Society (London, I954), 3.
    17. C. A. J. Teixeira, 'Descripcao dos Rios da Bahia de Lourenco Marques', Arquivo das Colonias, II, no. 8 (1918), 64. 
    18. Fynn, Delagoa Bay, 482.
    19. S. Broadbent, The Missionary Martyr of Namaqualand (London, I857), 83.
    20. Isaacs, Travels and Adventures, I, 229; II, 19-21; Gardiner, Narrative of a Journey to the Zoolu Country in South Africa Undertaken in 1835 (London, 1836), 90; Teixeira, Descripf ao, 64. Owen, Narrative, I, 263, says '...with Matchakany [Machakane of Matola] was a messenger from the Zoolos... 'describing a visit in August 1823. I take this to refer to Soshangana's or Zwangendaba's Nguni as on p. 271 of the same volume.
    21. Santana, I, 932, I Apr. I829. Saguate is a word of Indian origin.
    22. But there are British sources on the trade between Shaka and the Portuguese, e.g. Isaacs, Travels, I. 59.
    23. A. Grandjean, L'invasion, 75, 79; A. C. Myburgh (The Tribes of the Barberton District, Pretoria, I949, 108) seems to be the only recorder of oral tradition mentioning the activity of Dingane in the hinterland of Lourenco Marques.
    24. Lobato, Quatro Estudos, 120-44; Santana, I, 940; II, 626.
    25. The interpreter was Henry Francis Fynn (cf. Isaacs, Travels, II, 10-12).
    26. Santana, II, 229-31, 7I4. 
    27. A.H.U. Cod. 1425, f. 6, 29 Apr. I830; Santana, II, 425.
    28. Anselmo Jose do Nascimento had already been in Lourenco Marques in 1823 (Lobato, Quatro Estudos, 107), was met with by the British in Matola (Owen, Narrative, I, 262 seq.), and served as an interpreter when Owen drew up his treaty with Makhasana of Maputo in 1823. By 1830 he was the owner of a ship.
    29. A.H.U. Mago 14, G. Ribeiro to GCG Brito, no. 38, 
    30. Oct. 1830, summarised partly in Santana, II, 439. 30 Santana, II, 425.
    31. Ibid. 434-5.
    32. Ibid. 438. Ribeiro's envoys had returned on 6 August.
    33. The soldier who had brought this present was killed three years later. (Santana,I, 224).
    34. A.H.U. Maco 23, G. Ribeiro to GCG, no. 51 (probably from 15 May I83I); Ribeiro had also got the help of the chiefs of Magaia, Chirinda, Moamba, and Tembe. In March the chief of Maputo had apparently planned to help Matola, and Ribeiro boycotted trade with him (Maco 23, letter dated 15 May 1831, without number). In the end of July peace had been made with Matola and negotiations opened with Maputo (Santana, II, 949-50).
    35. A.H.U. Maco 23, G. Ribeiro to GCG, 29 Aug. I831, no. 57. Ribeiro also says that Dingane had also asked the British for help, but that they did not turn up. This is not quite true (cf. P. R. Kirby, Andrew Smith and Natal (Cape Town, 1955), 72; Okoye, 225, footnote 3 I). Okoye also describes the action Dingane had planned earlier that year against Cane, and the origin of the bad relations between Dingane and the British traders.
    36. Santana, I, 182.
    37. Ibid. 181.
    38. Ibid. 212.
    39. Ibid. 224. This is on page 53 of an account entitled 'A Guerra dos Reis Vatuas vizinhos de Louren,o Marques em 1833'. This is a MS report, certainly written before 1839, describing the events in L.M. between 26 July 1833 and io July I834, and now in Maco i A of Moc. in the A.H.U. Lobato identified its author as Antonio Jose Nobre,the agent of the company (Lobato, Quatro Estudas, p. 130).
    40. Page 2 of the MS.
    41. Santana, I, 209.
    42. Isaacs, Travels, II, 282.
    43. Santana, I, 223-4.
    44. Santana, I, 223, p. 51 of MS.
    45. The leaders of the troops were 'Sumisso' and 'Naniia' or'Nandiia'. (Nobre's MS report, pp. 39, 50). Sumisso's death became known on 5 Feb. I834. He was said to have kept some of the spoils of the war for himself (ibid. pp. 59-60). From March onwards, Seduto and his brother Machanfana were transmitting Dingane's orders.
    46. A.H.U. 2a seccao, Mo9. Pasta i (1834-5), Pegado to Margiochi, 17 February 1835, no. 9, incl. no. I: G. Dario Rodrigues de Vasconcellos to Governo Provizorio, 8 Oct. 1834.
    47. Santana, I, 224 (pp. 54 and 61 of MS).
    48. Grahamstown Journal, III, no. 134, 7 Aug 1834, from a letter dated Umzimvubu, 27 June [I834]. Fynn probably spoke to the soldier, Jose Antonio Banadaque, and a slave of the company. Conversation may well have been conducted in Zulu. (Fynn's letter is reprinted in J. Stuart and D. McK. Malcolm, The Diary of Henry Francis Fynn, Pietermaritzburg,1950).
    49. Grahamstown Journal, iii (1834), no. 146, 9 October from a letter dated Port Natal,3 Sept. 1834.
    50. Okoye, 229.
    51. A.H.U. MoC. Maco IA, Marinho to Bomfim, x6 Nov. I840, incl.: 'Acontecimento do dia 3 de junho do corrente anno [18351' written 5 June 1835.
    52. That Zulu were present is repeated by Ribeiro's successor Vasconcellos: A.H.U. Pasta I (I834-5), Pegado to Margiochi, no. 9, I7 February I835, incl. reports dated 8 and 9 Oct. I834. Hewetson, who accompanied the Zulu missionary, F. Owen, wrote from Delagoa Bay on 20 May I838, 'Dingaan, the Zoolu tyrant, attacked this place, and killed the late governor, about five years ago' (Missionary Herald, Cambridge, Mass., xxxv (1839), 110).
    53. Santana, I, 224-5 (page 57 of Nobre's MS). He was killed on 22 Nov., forty days after Ribeiro's death.
    54. Theal, The Portuguese in South Africa
    55. (London, 1896), 258, 279. Nobre, MS, p. 67.
    56. A contingent from Magaia was expected too but did not come forward. The troops which took possession of Lourenco Marques in I833 were called together in the same way (Santana, I, 222, 226; Nobre, MS 15, 66-68). 
    57. Santana, I, 226 (Nobre, MS, p. 69).
    58. Dingane wanted 2,691 'manilhas de pescoco' and 1,500 packages of beads 'of their kind' (A.H.U. Mo9. Pasta I, I834-5, Pegado to Margiochi, 17 Feb I835, incl. no. 2 letter from Vasconcellos and Soares.) In Sept. I833 Nobre had given 522 manilhas and 200 packages of beads. (Santana, I, 221.)
    59. A.H.U. Mo9. Maco IA, Marinho to Bomfim, i6 Nov. I840, incl. 'Acontecimento do dia 3 de junho do corrente anno [I835]'.
    60. Teixeira, Descripcao, 64.
    61. In 1835 the Swazi or Unguani were still tributary to the Zulu (Gardiner, Journey, 167-8). In 1836, 1837, and 1838 the Zulu were fighting against them; in I840 the Swazi killed Dingane. (Miss. Herald, xxxIII (I837), 121; xxxvi (1840), 385, 503; Bryant, Olden Times in Zululand and Natal (London, 1929), 32I-4).
    62. South African Archival Records, Transvaal, no. i, Notule van die Volksraad etc. Deel I, 70-I. Wars between Zulu and Swazi had apparently only begun again in 1846 (cf. South African Arch. Records, Natal, no. 2, 7I-2, 100, 121, I22, 132, I4I-2).
    63. Augusto de Castilho, O districto de Lourenco Marques no presente e no futuro, 2nd ed.(Lisbon: Mattos Moreira, 1881), 46.

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