Ncome and Blood River Monuments on Ncombe River in Nquthu-Dundee

South Africa

By Contested Histories Initiative July 2021

On the 16th of December 1838 the infamous Battle of Blood River on the banks of the Ncome River between Zulu warriors and Afrikaans Voortrekkers took place. Commemoration and mythologization of the battle became a key focal point of the ethno-nationalism of each group and remained heavily contested. In the transition to democracy the site came under renewed scrutiny as a component of the ‘Legacy Project’. The debate centred on ways to represent two-sides of contested history, the Afrikaans on the Eastern Bank and the Zulu on the Western, while achieving reconciliation. The resulting Blood River Monuments offer insight into how physical spaces can play a reconciliatory role in post-apartheid South Africa.

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