“Hell fire? We eat hell fire” Cetshwayo, King of the Zulu told Christian Missionaries
King Cetshwayo kaMpande of the Zulus, was a hero in a wars with the British, causing the most crushing defeat the English ever experienced from any Africans in modern history.
His victory at Isandlhwana was one of the most terrifying slaughters in history. In 1879, the British invaded Zululand. Cetshwayo defeated the British, and killed Prince Napoleon, heir to the French throne.
A missionary, trying to frighten Cetshwayo into accepting Christianity, told him of hell fire. “Hell fire?” Cetewayo laughed.
Do you think I’m afraid of hell fire? My soldiers would put it out. He commanded his officers to have his warriors to eat a grass fire burning on a nearby hillside.
His men immediately began to eat up the fire, not regarding their personal injuries. Cetshwayo replied “I eat hell fire.” He was a strict military disciplinarian. The army knew they must conquer or die. Certain death always awaited a defeated army.
Cetshwayo chased the missionaries from the Zulu territory for plotting against him and meddling in his national affairs. It was then suggested to the governor of the Cape that the Zulu nation should be annihilated in order to secure South Africa.
Having conquered many more British, Cetshwayo was soon captured and imprisoned. Three years later, Cetshwayo was granted a request to present his case to Queen Victoria.
The British found him to be a courteous, friendly, gentleman, not the man-eating savage depicted. He was honored as a hero and promised restoration of his power.
The whites of South Africa never kept the promise of the Queen. When Cetshwayo returned home, he again went to war with the enemy. Cetshwayo died in February, 1844. Never having surrendered his principles for freedom for his people, the Zulus.