The movie Zulu; translationsought

This is my first post. I hope I am doing everything properly.
In the movie “Zulu,” the Zulu warriors sing twice at the British soldiers,
once when the soldiers respond with their regimental song, and once at the
Zulu warriors final appearance. What are they singing?

According to this site, “Men of Harlech” wasn’t YET (two years early) their OFFICIAL regimental song and there is no PROOF they sang it during the battle of Rorke’s Drift, but it’s a GREAT SCENE, isn’t it? And my partially-Welsh wife would correct you that they weren’t “British,” but “Welsh.” Good thing you didn’t call them “English” or you’d be in for an ass-kicking! :wink:

As for what the Sulu were singing, I have no idea. Since the lyrics for “Men of Harlech” that they used were written for the movie my guess is that the Zulu’s song was, too.

Certainly no offence intended. Though I’m American I did pick up the Welsh/English subplot, but I was trying to be as short with my query as possible. I admit it was also an assumption that Men of Harlech was an official song.
But whether the Zulu lyrics were original at least of that time, if not that situation, or written to order for the movie, I’d still like to know a little more of what they were singing.

You might have to track down the original soundtrack for the movie or something like that. I do not recall any references to the Zulu singing at the beginning or end of the battle in any account I have read. I suspect that it was written for the movie (although it may have been based on a traditional song, much as the Men of Harlech was incorporated into the movie).

The IMDb lists “Original Music” by John Barry.

I saw about 40 minutes of the movie last night, and I was wondering whether it represented a real battle, and, if so, what it was that precipitated the Zulu attack?

A VERY true battle. The HISTORY CHANNEL occasionaly shows a documentary on the Battle at Roarkes Drift.

I always recommend the following----

CHAKA ZULU----A TV series, I believe. History of the Zulu.
ZULU DAWN—This film’s about what had happened “that morning” that they all talk about.
ZULU—on my all-time top 10 best list.


I’ll wager even money that the Zulu chant from the movie freely translates, as “We are the Champions.”

As far as the Zulu War of 1879 and Rorke’s Drift is concerned, just chalk it up as one more example of British Imperialist expansion that for a short time went awry. The Governor of Cape Colony and British High Commissioner for Native Affairs, Sir Bartle Frere, conceived of the notion that it would be a fine thing if Zululand were a real colony under direct British rule rather than a minor African kingdom next door to the Natal colony. To this end, Frere phonied up a demand for submission by the Zulu Kingdom to British sovereignty and, when his demands were rejected, convinced London that a war against the Zulu was the only honorable response. Frere’s ultimatum was made in December 1878, and three British columns invaded Zululand in January 1879. The middle column immediately ran into trouble and was nearly wiped out at Isandhlwana on January 22, 1879. This was a bigger catastrophe than Custer’s Last Stand, which had taken place only 2 ½ years before.

The middle column had left one infantry company, commanded by an overage, profoundly deaf lieutenant, at the ford over the Buffalo River where there was a missionary station on the British side of the river. In South Africa a river crossing is called a drift. The company at Rorke’s Drift was Co. B, 24th Infantry, some 85 men, supplemented by a few hangers on from other units. The senior officer present was an engineer lieutenant who was there to establish a ferry service.

After the fight at Isandhlwana, a part of the Zulu force, probably some 3000 warriors, broke off from the main body and went after the garrison at Rorke’s Drift. For its part, the garrison barricaded the mission station and stood off non-stop attacks for a day and a night until the Zulus pulled back. It was a courageous stand requiring steady discipline and bravery, but not much tactical brilliance. The fight turned into an endurance contest. This was the sort of fight at which the British Army of the period excelled. Eleven of the defenders were awarded the Victoria Cross, including the company commander, the engineer officer and five privates. Ever since then it has been an outstanding example of courage and fortitude in extreme circumstances and a famous battle for the British Army and the 2d Warwickshire Regiment (now the Royal Regiment of Wales).

There are several good books on the Zulu War. Donald R. Morris, The Washing of the Spears, Simon& Schuster (1965), and Michael Barthorp, The Zulu War, Blandford Paperbacks (1980), are both worth reading if you want to follow up on this.

George Fraser, Flashman author, wrote a book on the historical veracity of certain films. He gave Zulu high marks, saying the order of battle was correct. The only knocks he found was that there apparently was no quarrel as to which officer was in charge because the officer’s dates of commission were actually much further apart. He also took issue with Caine’s character’s non-professional admission at feeling ashamed at what he’d been through.
There are two Zulu soundtracks available, and neither helps. One features only the supporting music and Men of Harlech. The other, a re-release of the original album, looked promising, as it was combined with what I took to be an album of Zulu music, but was in fact a pop album “roughly” based on Zulu music, and a bit of a travesty at that.