Fort Nonquai, Eshowe

This Fort, situated on the outskirts of the town of Eshowe, was built to serve as the headquarters of the Zululand Native Police.


This small force was established in 1883 to serve as a bodyguard to the then Resident Commissioner Sir Melmoth Osborne. The small force, initially just 50 men, was known to the Zulus as nongqai and hence the fort was given the name Fort Nongqai.


The fort itself got off to an uncertain start when it was realized, only when the building reached shoulder height, that the two men who were employed were not skilled to do the work. The unsatisfactory work had to be knocked down before final construction could begin.


The Zululand Native Police saw service in Zululand during the 1880’s, took part in the South Africa War (when its numbers rose to 600 men) and the Bambatha Rebellion.


The force was absorbed into the Natal Police when Zululand was annexed to Natal in 1897, but was reinstated at the time of the Bambatha Rebellion; and disbanded immediately afterwards as it was felt that a group of trained armed men constituted a danger to the public.


The Fort was used as a depot for the Provincial Roads Department until it was decided to house a museum in the building.