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VISITING THE BATTLEFIELDS OF SOUTH AFRICA
By Chuck Hoskinson

I have always been drawn to Africa. As a youth, reading about the continent in National Geographic magazine and seeing several movie spectaculars such as King Solomon's Mines reinforced that attraction. However, it was seeing the movie "Zulu" during the early sixties' that cemented a large portion of my Army career. Becoming a Foreign Area Officer, African specialty, I had the opportunity to live (Ethiopia) and travel extensively in Africa. However, regardless of where I traveled in Africa, the beacon which beckoned strongest was that "continent within a country", South Africa. As an Army officer, I was naturally attracted to the Battlefield Region, which presents many classical events associated with the noble profession of arms.

I was fortunate, in 1984, to meet my wife, Liz, a woman who shares my passion for Africa. As a young lady, she spent six months in South Africa at the invitation of a woman she had worked with in London. Since that visit, she traveled there two more times before we met, and we have visited five times since we were married. We have read extensively on the history of South Africa, to include every piece of historical fiction that Wilber Smith has written.

So, it was natural that we scheduled our October, 2001 trip around the "History in Action" celebration at Dundee. It was a four-day event which included the two re-enactments, Talana and Rorkes Drift, a parade through town, and a celebration at the M.O.T.H (Military Order of the Tin Hat) museum the night before, where the "Brits" and the " Boers" had an opportunity to taunt each other before the next day's battle. Between the battles at the Talana site and museum, there were Zulu and Indian dancers, as well as a bazaar, food service and displays. The museum is a fantastic tour de force of the Battlefield history.

For anyone interested in visiting the battlefields of South Africa, Dundee is the ideal place to set up "headquarters". One can conduct multiple day-trips on self-guided tours, or arrange tours through the Dundee tourism office www.tourdundee.co.za . As for me, I "headquartered" at the Royal Hotel (royal@dundeekzn.co.za ), which is right in the center of town and convenient to everything. Operated by Dan & Motz Bezuidenhout, who have become great friends, they go out off their way to accommodate the needs of guests. (Dan even loaned me his firearm and bandoleer for the re-enactment). The ambiance of the hotel provides an historic aura of the South African battles, and the accommodation and food are nothing short of excellent. Its location is convenient to Rorke's Drift, Isandlwana, Blood River, Spionkop, Ladysmith and, of course, Talana. They can also arrange tours.

Chuck Hoskinson
Valrico, Florida

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