African shoestrings – South Africa Day Twenty-three
We found the Isandlwana battlefield quite eerie and moving. Monuments and unmarked graves in the form of stone cairns (piles of small rocks and stones for anyone that doesn’t know what a cairn is) dot the base of the hill, marking spots where they believe certain events or deaths took place.
There is a memorial to the Zulu dead but somehow we didn’t really get the feeling that the local Zulu population hold this site as sacred, cattle and rustlers just strolled across the field without any reverence to the memorials around them.
For those history buffs I didn’t mention the other two wars that were fought in this area, namely the first war of independence and the Anglo Boer war.
Both of these wars were fought between the British and the Afrikaners or Boers and eventually led to the British having complete control of South Africa, despite a crushing defeat in the former.
It was in the Anglo Boer war that the first ever concentration camps were used, this time by the British, who imprisoned Boer women and children 26,000 of whom died in the camps.
Ironically the Boers regained control of South Africa, this time peacefully, through the ballot box in 1910 and only relinquished it in 1994, again through the ballot box in the country’s first multi racial election.
At this stage we were still 360 Km’s from J’burg and had to drop the hire car back to the airport the next morning. So after staying the night in rondavel on a rather strange property called Carla Mai we headed out early to J’burg.
Now you most of you who’ve ever hired cars would know that you are meant to return them with a full tank. At J’burg airport this was a hassle! We had tried unsuccessfully to find one close to the airport and thought there’s bound to be one there. Do you think we could find one! ………..No!
After circling, getting lost and losing our sense of direction, we gave up and somehow managed to find the Budget car park and office. There they have stewards who guide you to a parking spot and one of these guys very obligingly jumped in the car and took us to the nearest fuel station 30 seconds away! Following this he dropped us off at the international terminal and took the car back to Budget.