Author:       Ramoupi, Neo 
Title:        "The amaThuli and the Mnini Trust: A Documentary and Oral History"
Date:         1998
Institution:  University of Natal, Durban (South Africa)
Advisors:     Jeff Guy and Melvin Page
Degree:       M.A.


The objective of this thesis is to write a historical narrative of the Luthuli (amaThuli) people from the time of their arrival in the eighteenth century in what became Natal. It seeks to trace their migration from their homeland in the hinterland of Zululand on the sources of the Matikhulu River to the promontory on the side of Port Natal where they settled on the Bluff and its surroundings towards the end of the eighteenth century or the beginning of the nineteenth century. After two decades of their occupation of the Bluff, in 1823, the amaThuli, like most of the chiefdoms both in Zululand and its surroundings, suffered conquest from Shaka, King of the Zulus. They fled their homesteads and plantations, and retreated into the thick bush of the Bluff where they hid from the Zulu King and his army. Shortly afterwards, between the years 1823 and 1824, came the first white settlers who found this chiefdom in possession of the Bluff area.

With the establishment of the first Colonial Government of Natal in 1843, the amaThuli people were moved from the Bluff because their land was earmarked for its colonial development. This took place after the Natal Administration had attempted to prevent their removal, on the grounds that these people were considered as the aboriginal inhabitants of Port Natal (Durban), and thus had the right to the land. The Natal Government gave them an alternative and promised to re-settle them in Mgababa, on the coast, about thirty kilometres south of Durban. The re-settlement was provided under a trust called Mnini Trust, created by the indenture dated 27 May 1858, named after their chief, Mnini, who was at the time of their removal a leader of the amaThuli chiefdom.

Legally this Trust exists to the present day. The Trust with its chronology stretching from its inception in 1858 to date, is a cause of a considerable historical significance for two reasons. One, for the establishment of the Location System by the Natal Native Affairs; and two, for the Land Claims' question of the ownership of the land. My thesis aims to examine first eighty years of this remarkable history of African enterprise and survival, from the time of confrontation with Shaka's Zulu warriors, and then with the Government of Natal, to the period 1860.

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Last Revised: 18 December 2000

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