Dick King Statue

Landmarks / Memorials in or near Durban Beachfront, Durban in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.

KwaZulu Natal Tourist AttractionsDick King Statue

Where? Victoria Embankment (Margaret Mncadi) on the north shore, Durban

Overnight? Stay in Durban Beachfront, in KwaZulu Natal

Dick King is best known for his epic 10-day ride from Durban (then it was called Port Natal) to Grahamstown in 1842 to round up reinforcements for the British.

At the time, Durban was in danger from the Boer forces and Dick King was chosen for the task because he knew the routes well (he had been a wagon driver for Captain Allen Gardiner) and was able to communicate in several local languages.

He covered a distance of over 950 km riding around 125 km a day on horseback (on two of the days he was so sick he couldn't ride). We battle to do this trip today by car in under two days, so the utter dedication he must have applied to do it in under 10 with no formal road ways, and in danger from attack from tribesmen and wild animals along the way, is nothing short of heroic.

What is even more unbelievable is that he managed all of this without ever changing horses. And the troops he mobilised managed to save Port Natal.

Dick King's full name was Richard Philip 'Dick' King and he was an English trader and colonist, having emigrated with his family to the Cape Colony in 1820, part of the 1820 settler programme. His family resettled in Port Natal when he was 15 years old.

His ride down to Grahamstown was not his only heroic deed.

Four years previously, he had been part of a delegation sent to warn his son and others, some 200 km inland at Voortrekker camps, of Zulu attacks. This happened just after the killing of Piet Retief and his delegation by Dingaan.

American missionaries close to the attack got word to Port Natal (Durban) and Dick King, together with a group of Africans, set out on foot. He walked day and night in a bid to reach his son, but failed to reach the camps in time.

He was also involved in the Biggar expedition of 1838 that grew out of the need to create a diversion to help the Boers under attack by Dingane and his men. Under the command of Robert Biggar, Dick King, 30 settlers, and a following of 1 500 Zulus who had deserted Dingane, marched on Dingane's kraal.

The situation got out of hand, though, and only a few men, among them Dick King, and 500 Zulus, returned to Port Natal, pursued by the Zulus.

The settlers in Port Natal were then forced to take refuge on a Ship in the bay for nine days. Once the Zulus left, only Dick King and a few others returned to live at Port Natal. Others returned to the Cape.

The statue, on Victoria Embankment (Margaret Mncadi) on the north shore of the bay brilliantly captures the exhaustion Dick King must have felt, given the terrific distance he covered on his horseback journey to Grahamstown.

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