EL pre­pares for War of Mlan­geni

His­toric bat­tle en­act­ment to take place in hon­our of brave Xhosa war­riors

Daily Dispatch - - News - TRA­DI­TIONAL AF­FAIRS CORESPONDENT LULAMILE FENI lu­lamilef@dis­patch.co.za

East Lon­don will be turned into a battlefield with can­nons and gun­fire on Satur­day as thou­sands of Xhosa war­riors armed with spears and shields re-en­act their brave fight against the so­phis­ti­cated weaponry of the red-jack­eted Bri­tish troops in the 1800s.

They will re-en­act the long­est and most ex­pen­sive fron­tier war ever fought be­tween the Bri­tish and AmaXhosa – The Eighth Fron­tier War, also known as the War of Mlan­geni, (1850-1853) at Fort Pato in Phum­lani vil­lage near East Lon­don.

The Buf­falo Vol­un­teer Ri­fles Mu­seum in­vited peo­ple to the his­toric bat­tle en­act­ment near the site of Fort Pato, in the Fort Pato For­est.

Mu­seum cu­ra­tor, his­to­rian and re­tired Ma­jor An­thony Step said such re-en­act­ments could “lead to a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of past events which have cre­ated di­vi­sions in this won­der­ful coun­try of ours”.

He said the mu­seum was ap­proached by AmaGqunukhwebe re­searcher Siyabonga Jabavu, on be­half of Nkosikazi Non­ge­nile Pato of AmaGqunukhwebe AseLwan­dle of Tsholom­nqa, to look at the pos­si­bil­ity of stag­ing the re-en­act­ment at Fort Pato to com­mem­o­rate the war.

Fort Pato was named af­ter Nkosi Pato, a se­nior tra­di­tional leader of AmaGqunukhwebe who was one of the ma­jor role play­ers dur­ing the War of the Axe in 1846-7.

With the es­tab­lish­ment of the port at Buf­falo River mouth, mil­i­tary sup­plies for King Wil­liam’s Town were trans­ported by wagon to es­tab­lished forts in the in­te­rior.

The Buf­falo Line – from Fort Glam­or­gan at Buf­falo Mouth via Fort Grey, Fort Pato, Needs Camp and Fort Mur­ray – af­forded pro­tec­tion against spo­radic at­tacks by the AmaXhosa, who re­sented the pres­ence of the mil­i­tary and traders in their land.

The war broke out in earnest not long af­ter.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, Nkosi Pato re­mained loyal and the Bri­tish forces were able to utilise the Buf­falo wagon route for sup­plies.

It was a square re­doubt en­closed by earth para­pets, with two small, square, loop-holed bas­tions at op­po­site cor­ners.

It con­tained three stone build­ings, a com­mis­sariat, a pow­der mag­a­zine, a cook­house and brick of­fi­cers’ quar­ters.

Soldiers’ bar­racks and sta­bles were built of wat­tle and daub. Some of it can still be seen to­day.

“Nkosi Pato would like to see Fort Pato be­come a tourist at­trac­tion and would like to see the bat­tle en­act­ment be­come a yearly event.

“It is felt that the lo­cals could be sen­si­tised to the rich her­itage of the area and be trained as guides for vis­i­tors,” said Step.

On Satur­day, the Buf­falo Vol­un­teer Ri­fles will sup­ply 20 men for se­cu­rity in the area and 10 men to act as Xhosa war­riors.

The Amagqunuk­webe tribe will pro­vide 15 men as Nkosi Pato’s war­riors, while the East Lon­don Cale­do­nian Pipe Band will pro­vide 10 mem­bers to act as Bri­tish soldiers.

The Arms Col­lec­tors As­so­ci­a­tion will par­tic­i­pate us­ing black pow­der ri­fles un­der the con­trol and ap­proval of the SA Po­lice Ser­vice.

An open area ad­ja­cent to the fort with two ru­ined build­ings will be used for the en­act­ment.

Pic­ture: WIKIPEDIA

RE­MEM­BER­ING: The Xhosa Wars were a se­ries of nine wars or flare-ups be­tween the Xhosa tribes and Euro­pean set­tlers in what is now the East­ern Cape. The Eighth Fron­tier war, also known as the War of Mlan­geni (1850-1853), is to be re­lived at Fort Pato near East Lon­don on Satur­day.

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