Today in History: The beginning of the Bhambatha Rebellion


InKosi Bhambatha kaMancinza at a wedding ceremony in 1905 (KZN Museum Service


UnCensored will from today, publish a series on historical events that changed our lives. We encourage, you, our reader, to also participate and send us events that you think had a significant impact in our lives. What better place to start than with an event that many regard as the beginning of the Struggle against Apartheid.  The Bhambatha rebellion has been directly attributed to the formation of the African National Congress. Like all history, there are several variations to the events that led to what is called the Bhambatha Rebellion. We’ve used two sources only. In the next article on the Bhambatha Rebellion, we publish a statement made by a man who says he was there….You decide..

Thursday 8 February, 1906 – The Bhambatha Rebellion

Natal in the early years of the 20th century became the site of conflict between Colonial Administrators and autonomous African chiefdoms. The death of Cetshwayo in Eshowe in 1884, the last of the independent Zulu kings left the task of resistance to colonial rule to be pursued by minor chiefs. By 1906, one of the most formidable of these chiefs,  was Inkosi Bambatha.

Bhambatha kaMancinza, also known as Mbata Bhambatha, was a Zulu chief of the amaZondi clan in the Colony of Natal and son of Mancinza.

He resisted colonial measures imposing a poll tax on his subjects in addition to the hut tax. The poll tax was raised from a tax per hut to per head (£1 tax on all native men older than 18 – infamously called ukhandampondo) and thereby increasing hardship during severe economic depression.

This led to first a stand off between him and the colonial officials. Bambatha was determined to resist the 1 pound poll tax imposed by the colonial government.

The divisional magistrate in Bhambatha’s area, T. R. Bennet was equally determined to carry out the task of collecting taxes from Bhambatha’s subjects. When Bennet arrived in Bhambatha’s homestead he was threatened by Bambatha and the rebels he had mobilized. The next day the colonial government dispatched a party of fourteen policemen under the leadership of Sub Inspector Hunt to arrest Bhambatha and the rebels. Two policemen were killed and the rest were forced to retreat. It became clear that Bambatha was not to be intimidated. This marked the beginning of the Bhambatha Rebellion.

Bhambatha, sensing that the colonial government was most likely to mount reprisals against him, fled north and sought refuge and support from Zulu King, Dinizulu. Dinizulu gave tacit support to Bhambatha. He returned to Mpanza valley and discovered that he had been deposed by the colonial government. This led to open hostilities between Bhambatha and the colonial government that lasted until April. And in late April 1906 Colonel Duncan Mckenzie led an expedition of colonial troops against Bhambatha. In the ensuing uneven conflict, Bhambatha was defeated. Some historians say he was killed and others say he was beheaded. His supporters believe he escaped death at the hands of the British and lived the rest of his life in Mocambique. His wife it is said refused to go into mourning.

The outcome of the Bambatha rebellion has gone down in history as the last of the primary resistance movements that were superseded by the establishment of the African National Congress in 1912. Bambatha is still regarded as a hero in the literature on resistance too colonial rule.





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  1. Hi Pinky

    On Today in History Subject: Please consider writing about Chief Langalibalele Hlubi, he was a King of AmaHlubi and was first King to be imprisoned in Robben Island. There is a rich history behind his rebellion against Colony of Natal by British.

  2. The other half of me if from an unknown Arabic Clan survival of a shipwreck.

    Koorbon(meaning Sacrifice) Ally( meaning of the Highest)

    “I am the Sacrifice of the Highest, the fire that burns within me is hotter than the fire around me”

  3. I am a product of the mixture of this rainbow nation.
    “A truly south african” with the blood of the Zulu & Nguni`s Clan known as.

    The Mtungwa` ka Mzilikazi of:
    King Mzilikazi (Meaning the Great Road)

    Jeff Koorbanally

  4. 2017 is Declared:“ a year of rebellion against Spiderweb Operation` white collar crimes & Corruption.

    We will protect and defend our State Vital Organs Like “Treasury” & our National Interest in that Corrupt privately own reserve bank.

    We will rid it of all corrupt Ministers,Governors and Officials & nobody is going to hold us at Ransom with threats of junk status or market or economic crash!.

    Never again will anyone be able to Capture/ Corrupt /loot that Institution (Treasury) anymore, we are watching it from every angle, for the survival of this hard fought Democracy! Corrupt Ministers will come & go faster than they came in! That’s a guarantee!

    Its about time our Govt listen and take action against this evil scourge called Corruption old & new.

  5. Sooo the Imperialists stole land and not being content with that, justified this by forcing the black man to pay ukhandampondo to the colonial government.

    The black man was thus, treated as a foreigner to his own land of birth, his native land of his ancestors.

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