John Dunn, resembling a hero of fiction rather than an ordinary man, was one of the most extraordinary characters of 19th century South Africa. In 1852,at the age of 16 he turned his back on the fledgling colonial settlement of Port Natal and, crossing the Tugela River, headed into Zululand. King Cetshwayo recorded his first meeting with Dunn, mentioning that the night had been bitterly cold: I ordered the servants to bring him in and a tall, splendidly made man appeared. He was dressed in rags … I loved this white man as my brother and made him one of my induna.[chiefs] Such was Cetshwayo’s generosity despite Dunn having earlier fought on the side of the king’s brother during the Zulu War of Succession in which twenty thousand died in a single battle.
Under Cetshwayo’s patronage, Dunn became a Zulu chief in every respect except for the colour of his skin. Later, when still under 20, he was educated by a British officer and accepted into colonial society, thus allowing him to lead the double life of an English gentleman and, when he crossed back over the Tugela to his 49 wives, that of a powerful Zulu induna. He also assisted King Cetshwayo in supplying the Zulu army with a vast number of guns.
When war was declared on the Zulus by Britain in 1879, Dunn at first remain neutral but treacherously sided against his friend and benefactor the Zulu king. With the British victorious, Sir Garnet Wolseley, who thought Dunn to be a very fine fellow, divided Zululand into five Kinglets, and proclaimed Dunn overlord of the largest..
JOHN DUNN CETYWAYO AND THE THREE GENERALS 1886
The amazing career of John Dunn, a white man who became a powerful Zulu chief thanks to the favour of King Cetshwayo, the Zulu king whom Dunn later basely betrayed.
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