Thursday Doors – Ghost Mountain Inn, Zululand

Welcome to Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).

About Ghost Mountain

“It is a great and strange mountain. It is haunted also and named the Ghost Mountain, and on top of it is a grey peak rudely shaped like the head of an old woman.” So wrote Rider Haggard in his book “Nada the Lily”.

The Legend of Ghost Mountain

I took this information directly from the Ghost Mountain Inn website which you can find here: https://www.ghostmountaininn.co.za/

A section of the Ndwandwe tribe, headed by the Gaza family, had their home beneath this mountain until they were conquered by Shaka in 1819 and the head of the family, Soshongane, fled with his followers into Mozambique, where he founded the Shangaan tribe.

From early times it had become customary to bury the bodies of Chiefs on Ghost Mountain. High on its slopes there is a taboo cave, used as a tomb by generations of the Gaza family. Soshongane and his descendants, although they lived many miles away in Mozambique, were carried back to the Ghost Mountain when they died.

Their bodies, mummified and wrapped in the black bull skins, had to be transported by bearers who travelled by night and hid during the day to avoid detection by the Zulus. After the Anglo Zulu War in 1879, when the British tried to rule Zululand by dividing it into 13 separately ruled states, there was a period of chaotic rivalry, feuding and fighting. The two principal rivals were Prince Dinuzulu, the son of the deposed Zulu King Cetshwayo, and his Usuthu warriors, and Zibhebhu, head of the powerful Mandlakazi section of the Zulu nation.

In a series of bloody fights, Zibhebhu gained the upper hand. Dinuzulu, in desperation, enlisted 600 Boers and Germans, led by Louis Botha (later General Louis Botha, who was also to become the first Prime Minister of The Union of South Africa), who were promised rewards of farms for their help. In June 1884 Dinuzulu’s army of Zulus and Europeans invaded Zibhebhu’s territory.

Zibhebhu was a resolute leader and his Mandlakazi section was considered to be made up of the finest warriors, and although he also had a handful of white supporters, including the famous frontiersman, Johan Colenbrander, he had little chance against the opposition.

Zibhebhu made a fighting retreat to the Mkuze River Pass through the Lebombo, and on the 5th of June, in this rugged gorge beneath Ghost Mountain, there was a vicious struggle known as the Battle of Tshaneni. The Mandlakazi fought stubbornly, but heavy rifle fire from Dinuzulu’s army mowed them down and they broke and fled into the dense forest country of Tongaland. The battlefield was littered with thousands of bodies, and of this the late Col. Reitz makes mention in his book “Trekking On”, where he claims that in the early 1920’s he journeyed through skeletons that were still strewn about on the slopes of the Ghost Mountain.

Denys Reitz was made Minister of Lands in 1922 and journeyed up through Zululand to establish the position of a new harbour. His opinion was that Richards Bay would not be suitable but Kosi Bay would be ideal. On this trip he went on a Hippo hunt with, as his book ‘Commando’ states, “The mad Rutherfoord brothers”. This trip is documented in a series of photographs hanging in the Inn. Peter Rutherfoord, the grandson of Richard Hubert, who escorted Denys Reitz on the Hippo hunt, is the present owner of the Ghost Mountain Inn.

Some doors

We had a lovely time at Ghost Mountain Inn and were entertained with various tours during our stay, and some lovely meals, including a braai and a buffet.

Picture of me with Ghost Mountain in the background. The body of water is Pongopoort Dam, home to numerous hippos and crocodiles. There is a sign telling visitors to beware.
This is the back side of Ghost Mountain. I thought it looked like a screaming mouth.

You can join in Thursday Doors here: https://nofacilities.com/2021/04/22/barn-doors-thursday-doors/

52 thoughts on “Thursday Doors – Ghost Mountain Inn, Zululand

  1. This was fascinating to me, since I know almost no history from that part of the world. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, Robbie. And I loved the photos–looks like you had a great holiday.

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  2. Thanks for providing the history to go with the pictures, Robbie. I agree that the photo of the mountain does look like it’s screaming or saying something – maybe a warning. It’s interesting to think about people having such reverence for the dead to make such a dangerous journey to see that they are properly buried. I really enjoyed this post. I hope you have a great weekend.

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    1. Hi Dan, southern African people have a great respect for their ancestors and rituals and ceremonies to pay homage to them are integral to their culture and society. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. There are three more posts about this trip and the third will also include some information about one of the Zulu myths and practices.

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  3. It seems humans are always fighting with nothing to show for it. I would imagine there are plenty of ghosts in that location, but it is beautiful nonetheless. What a wonderful photo of you! (K)

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  4. What an interesting history, Robbie. So much battling. I do like the history of the dead chiefs being snuck at night to the mountain. That’s so dramatic. Thanks for sharing and great pic of you in front of the mountain. 🙂

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  5. These are the stories you never hear in history books. The books aren’t big enough to hold all the local stories. You told this one so well, Robbie. I can’t imagine being that passionate to carry a loved one’s body under such dangerous conditions to bury it there. And now, not that far into their future, there’s a beautiful hotel where people from around the world can come and look at the sacred mountain with no fear of reprisal. The way the world changes so quickly is a thing of wonder.

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