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One Hundred Years On


Jul 20 After a night march, an 800 strong force of the MRF (accompanied by Cecil Rhodes and Carrington) attack the rebels commanded by Bhabhiyana Masuku, at Nkantola1. The rebels fight a running battle and are chased across the Tuli river. This battle is certainly not a victory for the MRF as the AmaNdebele regroup once the battle is over. There were no severe casualties on either side - the M R F suffered 4 men dead.

Laings graveyard mt Inungu
Inugu Mountain stronghold
Near the western end of the Matopos, and occupied by about fifteen hundred rebels.
Mt Inungu, in the vicinity of which Laings column was attacked

At the same time as the engagement at Nkantola, a 500 strong column led by Capt Laing is moving from Figtree in the west, to outflank the Nkantola rebels. Instead his column is attacked at dawn at the foot of Mount Inungu (where they had laagered for the night), and is fortunate to barely escape annihilation, suffering over sixty casualties. This was to be the bloodiest fights of the entire rebellion - even today the battle site is known as Laing’s Graveyard.

Jul 21 Carrington decides to establish a series of small forts to cover the principal exits from the Matopos Hills, so as to (attempt to) contain the rebels.

Jul 22 Fort Usher2 No 3 is established after Baden-Powell selects a suitable site.

Jul 25 A force of 250 men led by Capt Nicholson is sent by Plumer back to Mount Inungu to teach the rebels a lesson. This column is also forced to retreat, bringing the score to 2-nil in the Inungu Rebels favour.

Having not been terribly successful conquering the rebels in the western Matopos, Carrington now decides to try out the Rebels eastern flank - as yet untested.

1Apparently so called as a corruption of the Afrikaans “Kantoor” (office) - Lobengula stayed in in this area living in a small brick house built for him by an English ex-sailor, John Halyet.
2 Named after an early European trader in the area

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A picture of the mounted plaque at the site:-

Battle of Nkantola
In memory of the bravery and valour of the ... of the Matabeleland Relief Force and of the Ndebele commanded by .....yara Masuku, who fought here on 20th July 1896.
Errected 20th July 1996 by the Boy Scout Association to mark the....

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Acknowledgements:-Dave Anderson
Colin Anderson