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Gert Swart's Isandlwana monument was recently unveiled during the 12Oth anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Isandlwana (held at the battle site on 22 January). The work is a powerful and fitting tribute to the Zulu fallen. It is composed of a large bronze cast necklace, the "iziqu" (the Zulu necklace of courage) and is laid on a circular concrete plinth in the attacking pincer formation of the Zulu military. Around the plinth, resting on pillars, are four traditional Zulu head rests, each representing one of the four Zulu regiments that took part in the battle.

The story behind the "iziqu" is remarkable to minds tainted by historic stereotypes of Zulu warriors. Unlike most other military traditions, where medals of valour are bestowed upon the recipient, the "iziqu" is created by the warrior himself. After being identified by the king as having distinguished himself in battle, the warrior is granted permission to create a necklace to be worn as a mark of valour. The necklace is a unique creation, with the design, carving of the beads and stringing of the necklace all done by the warrior himself. The vision of a warrior carefully crafting his own "iziqu" after confronting the violence and brutality of war is a moving image. Apart from its military aspects, this ritual also embodies remedial and healing qualities. This, together with its inherent themes of creativity and reconstruction make it a wonderful dedication, not only to the Zulu fallen, but also to the English who died during the battle. The symbolic reference to our own present situation of painful reconstruction deepens the impact of this magnificent sculpture. (shortened - Ed.)
Isandlwana Monument
Patrick Makkink
The Big Picture Volume 1, Lent 1999, Inside front cover