Blood River

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Blood River
South Africa relief location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location of the Blood River's mouth
Native nameNcome, Bloedrivier
Country South Africa
State KwaZulu-Natal
Physical characteristics
SourceHighlands SE of Utrecht
Buffalo River
27°50′56″S30°35′35″E / 27.84889°S 30.59306°E / -27.84889; 30.59306 Coordinates: 27°50′56″S30°35′35″E / 27.84889°S 30.59306°E / -27.84889; 30.59306

Blood River (Afrikaans : Bloedrivier; Zulu : Ncome) is situated in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. This river has its sources in the hills south-east of Utrecht; leaving the highlands it is joined by two important tributaries that originate in the Schurveberg, after which it flows meandering through a sandy plain. [1] The Blood River is a tributary of the Buffalo River, which is a tributary of the Tugela River which it joins from the north-east. [2]


This river is so named after the battle in which Zulu King Dingane was defeated by Andries Pretorius and his men on 16 December 1838 and the water turned red from the blood of Zulu who died here en masse. It was a fight with 464 Boers and over 10,000 Zulus. To this day Afrikaners celebrate this day in thanks to God for sparing them since not even one Boer died. This day is known as the Day of the Vow and is celebrated on 16 December every year. [3]

The Blood River Vlei, located about 20 km to the south-west of Vryheid, is one of the biggest inland wetlands in South Africa and the wintering place of migratory birds such as ducks and geese. [4]

See also


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KwaZulu-Natal is a province of South Africa that was created in 1994 when the Zulu bantustan of KwaZulu and Natal Province were merged. It is located in the southeast of the country, enjoying a long shoreline beside the Indian Ocean and sharing borders with three other provinces, and the countries of Mozambique, Eswatini and Lesotho. Its capital is Pietermaritzburg, and its largest city is Durban. It is the second-most populous province in South Africa, with slightly fewer residents than Gauteng.

Great Trek Boer migrations away from British control in the eastern Cape Colony (1836-1852)

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Boer Republics Former countries in southern Africa

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Andries Pretorius South African politician

Andries Wilhelmus Jacobus Pretorius was a leader of the Boers who was instrumental in the creation of the South African Republic, as well as the earlier but short-lived Natalia Republic, in present-day South Africa. The large city of Pretoria, executive capital of South Africa, is named after him.

Battle of Blood River 1838 battle of the Great Trek

The Battle of Blood River was fought on the bank of the Ncome River, in what is today KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa between 464 Voortrekkers ("Pioneers"), led by Andries Pretorius, and an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 Zulu. Casualties amounted to over 3,000 of King Dingane's soldiers dead, including two Zulu princes competing with Prince Mpande for the Zulu throne. Three Voortrekker commando members were lightly wounded, including Pretorius.

The year 1838 was the most difficult period for the Voortrekkers since they left the Cape Colony, till the end of the Great Trek. They faced many difficulties and much bloodshed before they found freedom and a safe homeland in their Republic of Natalia. This was only achieved after defeating the Zulu King, Dingane, at the greatest battle ever fought in South Africa, namely the Battle of Blood River, which took place on Sunday 16 December 1838.

Tugela River

The Tugela River is the largest river in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. It is one of the most important rivers of the country.

Natalia Republic Former country in Southern Africa

The Natalia Republic was a short-lived Boer republic founded in 1839 after a Voortrekker victory against the Zulus at the Battle of Blood River. The area was previously named Natália by Portuguese sailors, due to its discovery on Christmas. The republic came to an end in 1843 when British forces annexed it to form the Colony of Natal. After the British annexation of the Natalia Republic, most local Voortrekkers trekked north into Transorangia, later known as the Orange Free State, and the South African Republic.

Colenso, KwaZulu-Natal Place in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Colenso is a town in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It is located on the southern bank of the Tugela River. The original settlement was contained within a loop on the river, but it subsequently expanded southwards and eastwards. It lies on the main Durban - Johannesburg railway line some 190 km (118 mi) north-west of Durban.

Wakkerstroom Place in Mpumalanga, South Africa

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Piet Retief

Pieter Mauritz Retief was a Voortrekker leader. Settling in 1814 in the frontier region of the Cape Colony, he assumed command of punitive expeditions in response to raiding parties from the adjacent Xhosa territory. He became a spokesperson for the frontier farmers who voiced their discontent, and wrote the Voortrekkers' declaration at their departure from the colony.

Day of the Vow

The Day of the Vow was a religious public holiday in South Africa. It is an important holiday for Afrikaners, originating from the Battle of Blood River on 16 December 1838.

Colony of Natal British colony in South Africa (1843–1910)

The Colony of Natal was a British colony in south-eastern Africa. It was proclaimed a British colony on 4 May 1843 after the British government had annexed the Boer Republic of Natalia, and on 31 May 1910 combined with three other colonies to form the Union of South Africa, as one of its provinces. It is now the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa.

Nieuwe Republiek

The Nieuwe Republiek was a small Boer republic which existed from 1884 to 1888 in present-day South Africa. It was recognised only by the German Empire and the South African Republic. Its independence was proclaimed on August 16, 1884, with land donated by the Zulu Kingdom through a treaty. It covered 13,600 square kilometres (5,300 sq mi) and the capital was Vryheid or Vrijheid, both being alternative names of the state. The founder and president until it requested incorporation into the South African Republic on 20 July 1888 was Lucas Johannes Meyer, while Daniel Johannes Esselen acted as Secretary of State during the same period.

The military history of South Africa chronicles a vast time period and complex events from the dawn of history until the present time. It covers civil wars and wars of aggression and of self-defence both within South Africa and against it. It includes the history of battles fought in the territories of modern South Africa in neighbouring territories, in both world wars and in modern international conflicts.

History of South Africa (1815–1910)

During the Napoleonic Wars, the Cape Colony was annexed by the British and officially became their colony in 1815. Britain encouraged settlers to the Cape, and in particular, sponsored the 1820 Settlers to farm in the disputed area between the colony and the Xhosa in what is now the Eastern Cape. The changing image of the Cape from Dutch to British excluded the Dutch farmers in the area, the Boers who in the 1820s started their Great Trek to the northern areas of modern South Africa. This period also marked the rise in power of the Zulu under their king Shaka Zulu. Subsequently, several conflicts arose between the British, Boers and Zulus, which led to the Zulu defeat and the ultimate Boer defeat in the Second Anglo-Boer War. However, the Treaty of Vereeniging established the framework of South African limited independence as the Union of South Africa.

Zulu Kingdom Former monarchy in Southern Africa

The Zulu Kingdom, sometimes referred to as the Zulu Empire or the Kingdom of Zululand, was a monarchy in Southern Africa that extended along the coast of the Indian Ocean from the Tugela River in the south to Pongola River in the north.

Afrikaners are an ethnic group in Southern Africa descended from predominantly Dutch settlers first arriving at the Cape of Good Hope in the 17th and 18th centuries. They traditionally dominated South Africa's politics and commercial agricultural sector prior to 1994. Afrikaans, South Africa's third most widely spoken home language, evolved as the mother tongue of Afrikaners and most Cape Coloureds. It originated from the Dutch vernacular of South Holland, incorporating words brought from the Dutch East Indies and Madagascar by slaves. Afrikaners make up approximately 5.2% of the total South African population based on the number of white South Africans who speak Afrikaans as a first language in the South African National Census of 2011.

Bushmans River

The Bushman's River is an east to north-easterly flowing tributary of the Tugela River, in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. It rises in the Drakensberg Mountain range, with its upper catchment in the Giant's Castle Game Reserve, north of the Giant's Castle promontory. It feeds the Wagendrift Dam and then flows past the town of Estcourt to join the Tugela River near the town of Weenen.

Buffalo River (KwaZulu-Natal)

The Buffalo River is the largest tributary of the Tugela River in South Africa. Its source is in Majuba Hill, "Hill of Doves" in Zulu language, located northeast of Volksrust, close to the Mpumalanga / KwaZulu-Natal border. It follows a southerly route into KwaZulu-Natal past Newcastle then turns southeast past Rorke's Drift, before joining the Tugela River at Ngubevu near Nkandla. During the nineteenth century it formed part of the boundary between the Colony of Natal and Zululand.


  1. The Geology of Vryheid
  2. Thukela WMA 7
  3. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Tugela"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 27 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 364.
  4. KZN North - Working for Wetlands Archived September 18, 2012, at the Wayback Machine