Natal, Boers to the left, Zulus to the right and stuck in the middle with the Indians

An adventurer faces many challenges. In todays case, a large and growing colony was established, but only after he paid with his life. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

Natal was really surrounded. Three quarters of the people were Zulus and their off shoot, the Matebilli. They had killed the founder of the British Colony. There were about ten percent Boers, whites of Dutch decent, that had eventually lost a bloody war with the English. Another 10 percent were Indians brought in as indentured servants. That left the British the smallest minority. The British must have liked to see the portrait of Edward VII on todays stamp as a sign they had some support when trouble came. It is probably for this reason that every postage stamp issued by the colony was a portrait of the British monarch.

Todays stamp is issue A23, a half penny stamp issued by the British Crown Colony of Natal in 1902. It was part of a 16 stamp issue of various denominations showing the portrait of British King Edward VII. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 55 cents used. The 20 pound revenue stamp from this issue is worth $27,500 mint. Not many people would buy an expensive revenue stamp and then not use it to pay their taxes apparently.

Francis Farewell was a Captain in the British Merchant Marine. He married the daughter of a Cape Town merchant and scouted out a place to set up a trade post. His idea was to get into the ivory trade. Finding Port Natal, he returned with thirty settlers, 10 British and 20 Boers. He made a deal with the Zulu leader Shaka  for the land. after several petitions and further migration from Britain, Natal was accepted as a British Colony.

It was found that sugar cane production was most suited to the local climate. This is very labour intensive, and the Zulus were unwilling to do the work. Indians were then brought in as indentured servants but many stayed and formed a local community that was at one point the largest Indian community outside of India. Gandhi even visited in 1898 and helped found an association to prevent discrimination.

Farewell did not do so well. He travelled to the Zulu capital to trade beads. He was killed by Zulu warriors while asleep in his tent. Shaka had been deposed by his brother and things were no longer friendly. A war between the British and the Zulus was fought with the British winning and adding much Zulu territory to Natal. The Boer war later added much Boer territory to Natal. In 1910 Natal was merged to form the Union of South Africa.

Interestingly, in 1980 the apartheid South African government set up a separate state of KwaZulu as a homeland for the Zulus. It was under the former royal family of Zululand. KwaZulu was not recognized by any other country and was reintegrated by now majority ruled South Africa in 1994. The province is now called KwaZulu-Natal. Francis Farewell still has a  square named after him in Durban.

Well my drink is empty and so I will open the conversation in the below comment section. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

One Comment