The war was the unforeseen result of the desire of Lord Carnarvon, the British colonial secretary, to unite the British colonies and Boer (Afrikaner) republics in South Africa to guarantee the security of white settlers. Sir Bartle Frere, sent out as high commissioner to implement Carnarvon's plan, concluded that Cape Colony would not co‐operate as long as the Transvaal Boers were at loggerheads with their Zulu neighbours. Frere accepted the assertion that Zulu military strength constituted a threat to stability in South Africa. Against Carnarvon's strict instructions, Frere demanded impossible concessions from the Zulu ruler and then invaded Zululand in January 1879. The British government accepted the fait accompli and superior British arms overcame the courage and inappropriate tactics of the Zulus who surrendered in July. The renewed aggression of the Boers after the Transvaal had reasserted its internal autonomy in 1881 induced Britain to recognize their claims over a portion of Zululand and the remaining Zulu territory was incorporated into the British colony of Natal.
Subjects: British History — Military History.