KwaZulu Natal DestinationsRorkes Drift, Battlefields
Rorke’s Drift, 46 kilometres southeast of Dundee, describes a natural crossing presented by a rocky outcrop that allows one to cross the Buffalo River on foot. To give one an idea of its significance, just 4 kilometres down from the drift the river enters a gorge and from here there is no easy crossing until it joins up with the Tugela River.
Rorke’s Drift thus provides an easy route from the northern plateau of Natal into Zululand, past the Isandlwana and Siphezi mountains. It was named after James Rorke who farmed near the crossing. After his death, the farm was taken over by a Swedish Mission that was to play a strategic role in one of the fiercest battles of the Anglo-Zulu War.
The countryside around Rorke’s Drift still manages to give true meaning to the description ‘unspoilt beauty’, and it is hard to imagine that this peaceful, undulating landscape was the scene of such violence. A visit to the Rorke’s Drift Battle Museum, which has received worldwide attention for its displays of the Anglo-Zulu War, gives an incredible audiovisual depiction of the Rorke’s Drift battle and others, and is well worth a visit.
The arts and crafts centre, which started as a workshop run by the Evangelical Lutheran Church, began when black artists received training from Swedish art teachers. Today the centre has received as much acclaim as the museum and the likes of Azaria Mbatha, sculptor Zuminkosi Zulu and lino-cut artist John Muafangejo received their training here. Students from here have gone on to achieve international acclaim, and today the centre specialises in hand woven tapestries, pottery and silkscreen fabrics.