Focus on Vryheid, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa
Vryheid is located in Zululand in the north of KwaZulu Natal South Africa. Vryheid had a difficult start. After the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879, the British decided to fragment Zululand into 13 petty states. They hoped to control Zululand more easily by reducing the Zulu nation to smaller tribal elements. The British had not counted on the internal tribal bickering which took place due to the smaller territories. One of the Zulu chieftains, Dinizulu, became heavily involved in competition with Zibebu, a rival chief. In order to obtain support Dinizulu offered rewards of land to mercenaries who would come and fight on his side.

In 1884 a group of Boer volunteers formed Dinizulu’s Volunteers and after several clashes with Zibebu, defeated him at the Battle of Ghost Mountain. The mercenaries then claimed payment and Dinizulu found himself confronted with demands he could not meet. 800 Mercenaries claimed to have fought for him and Zululand was not big enough to give all these greedy, land hungry, individuals farms the size they wanted. After some unpleasantness, Britain intervened and the mercenaries had to be content with a grant of land in the northern part of the country. On the 5 August 1884, these discontented mercenaries declared a republic, with the town of Vryheid as its capital, which lasted for only four years. Today Vryheid is a centre for coal mining and ranching. A museum has been created in the old Raadzaal and there is a small fort at the back of this building.

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