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Bushmen hunters were among the earliest people to explore the region, which offered them plenty of caves and rock shelters, clear waters, abundant firewood, and good hunting.The bushmen were ejected by the Iron-Age Bantu who migrated down from central Africa in the early 1600s.
The Zulu clan under Shaka Zulu welded other Nguni clans together into what became the most impressive military force ever seen in Africa’s history to that time.
Generally, the people enjoyed a good life and were wealthy in terms of the cattle they owned. The Afrikaners trekked from the Cape and entered the region from the west.
The English arrived at Port Natal (Durban) in the east.
At first, there was little tension between black and white.
But the Africans had no reason to work for the newcomers, so when sugar became important in the second half of the 1800s, the English imported labour from India.
The Indian population grew quickly and by the 1890s outnumbered the whites in Natal.
The English soon soured relations between black and white by insisting the Zulus should give up their traditional military system.
War followed in 1879, and after scoring a massive victory at Isandlwana, the Zulus soon lost too many men - at least 4000 - and too much heart to continue.
Twenty years later and war flared up again, this time between Afrikaner and British, and again the British suffered humiliating defeats at the hands of smaller and poorly trained forces, especially in Natal.
The war dragged on for more than two years before the Afrikaners sued for peace.
They ultimately had their revenge, however, by winning political mastery of the entire country, which was in their grips from 1948 through 1994, when the African National Congress under Nelson Mandela came to power.
Today it is fair to say that the Natal African is at the bottom of the Province’s economy and poorer than ever, apart from those few who have become enriched by the current political dispensation.