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Meeting Shaka –
From the Diary of Henry Francis Fynn
Had a bored eighteen-year-old Londoner not sought adventure on the Dark Continent, the legend of Shaka may have remained a myth.
Having crossed the Indian Ocean, Henry Francis Fynn found little of interest in Cape Town. The boredom continued on a farm in Somerset East, forcing the youngster to walk from Grahamstown to Cape Town alone, at a time when there were no roads, railways, or bridges, but plenty of crocodiles, hippopotami, and elephants. This was the start of the Englishman’s adventures. He had heard about the mythical King of the Zulus and was determined to meet Shaka. After landing at Port Natal in 1824, Fynn set out on foot for Shaka’s kraal, but returned to port. He embarked on his journey again on horseback, accompanied by a small group of traders. He did eventually meet Shaka, staying with him as a friend for nine years during which he undertook research and extended his diary. Thanks to its publication in 1950 we have a glimpse of Zulu life, culture, tradition and customs, as well as insights on the most powerful King in Africa. Had Shaka’s twelve-year reign not been halted by his assassination, who knows what South Africa would have been like today?