Sompseu: For I will call you by the name that for fifty years has been honoured by every tribe between Zambesi and Cape Agulbas,-I greet you! Sompseu, my father, I have written a book that tells of men and matters of which you know the most of any who still look upon the light; therefore, I set your name within that book and, such as it is, I offer it to you. If you knew not Chaka, you and he have seen the ...
For I will call you by the name that for fifty years has been honoured by every tribe between Zambesi and Cape Agulbas,-I greet you!
Sompseu, my father, I have written a book that tells of men and matters of which you know the most of any who still look upon the light; therefore, I set your name within that book and, such as it is, I offer it to you.
If you knew not Chaka, you and he have seen the same suns shine, you knew his brother Panda and his captains, and perhaps even that very Mopo who tells this tale, his servant, who slew him with the Princes. You have seen the circle of the witch-doctors and the unconquerable Zulu impis rushing to war; you have crowned their kings and shared their counsels, and with your son's blood you have expiated a statesman's error and a general's fault.
Sompseu, a song has been sung in my ears of how first you mastered this people of the Zulu. Is it not true, my father, that for long hours you sat silent and alone, while three thousand warriors shouted for your life? And when they grew weary, did you not stand and say, pointing towards the ocean: "Kill me if you wish, men of Cetywayo, but I tell you that for every drop of my blood a hundred avengers shall rise from yonder sea!"
Then, so it was told me, the regiments turned staring towards the Black Water, as though the day of Ulundi had already come and they saw the white slayers creeping across the plains.
Thus, Sompseu, your name became great among the people of the Zulu, as already it was great among many another tribe, and their nobles did you homage, and they gave you the Bayete, the royal salute, declaring by the mouth of their Council that in you dwelt the spirit of Chaka.
Many years have gone by since then, and now you are old, my father. It is many years even since I was a boy, and followed you when you went up among the Boers and took their country for the Queen.
Why did you do this, my father? I will answer, who know the truth. You did it because, had it not been done, the Zulus would have stamped out the Boers. Were not Cetywayo's impis gathered against the land, and was it not because it became the Queen's land that at your word he sent them murmuring to their kraals? To save bloodshed you annexed the country beyond the Vaal. Perhaps it had been better to leave it, since "Death chooses for himself," and after all there was killing-of our own people, and with the killing, shame. But in those days we did not guess what we should live to see, and of Majuba we thought only as a little hill!
Enemies have borne false witness against you on this matter, Sompseu, you who never erred except through over kindness. Yet what does that avail? When you have "gone beyond" it will be forgotten, since the sting of ingratitude passes and lies must wither like the winter veldt. Only your name will not be forgotten; as it was heard in life so it shall be heard in story, and I pray that, however humbly, mine may pass down with it. Chance has taken me by another path, and I must leave the ways of action that I love and bury myself in books, but the old days and friends are in my mind, nor while I have memory shall I forget them and you.
Therefore, though it be for the last time, from far across the seas I speak to you, and lifting my hand I give your "Sibonga" and that royal salute, to which, now that its kings are gone and the "People of Heaven" are no more a nation, with Her Majesty you are alone entitled:-
Bayete! Baba, Nkosi ya makosi! Ngonyama! Indhlovu ai pendulwa! Wen' o wa vela wasi pata! Wen' o wa hlul' izizwe zonke za patwa nguive! Wa geina nge la Mabun' o wa ba hlul' u yedwa! Umsizi we zintandane e ziblupekayo! Si ya kuleka Baba! Bayete, T' Sompseu!
H. RIDER HAGGARD.
To Sir Theophilus Shepstone, K.C.M.G., Natal. 13 September, 1891.
Henry Rider Haggard was born at Bradenham, Norfolk, to Sir William Meybohm Rider Haggard, a barrister, and Ella Doveton, an author and poet. He was the eighth of ten children. He was initially sent to Garsington Rectory in Oxfordshire to study under the Reverend H.J. Graham but, unlike his older brothers who graduated from various Public Schools, he ended up attending Ipswich Grammar School. This was because his father, who regarded him as somebody who was not going to amount to much, could no longer afford to maintain his expensive private education. After failing his army entrance exam he was sent to a private ‘crammer’ in London to prepare for the entrance exam for the British Foreign Office, which in the end he never sat
Also available on Feedbooks Haggard:
King Solomon's Mines (1885)
Allan Quatermain (1887)
The Ghost Kings (1908)
Allan and the Ice Gods (1927)
Hunter Quatermain's Story (1885)
Allan's Wife (1889)