Rise up oh men of Zulu!

       Rise up & greet the day,

              And stamp your feet

              In the rising heat

       That greets the swirling gray.

Hearken to the calling!

       The drummers’ skilful beat,

              While the wraiths of mist

              Your bodies twist

       And enclose your angry feet.

Gaze out upon your valleys!

       Where the white men now lay claim,

              And with silent breath

              You promise death

       And triumph the Zulu name!

“Bambatha” cry your people,

       “Bambatha, save us now!”

              For the white man breaks

              And the white man takes

       And leaves not grain nor cow!

Give not the gold they ask you,

       Stand straight your weary backs!

              They would suck you dry

              ‘Though your children cry

       With their hated, horrid tax!

Fields quickly dwindle,

       Herds grow smaller too,

              And silent cries

              In children’s eyes

       Twists your heart in two.

              * * * * * * * * * *

But slowly word is spreading

       In a rising tidal sound,

              That swamps the plains

              And the mountain tames

       And stirs the trembling ground.

 

Bugles blast the dark,

       The troops are on their way,

              You wait in fright

              Throughout the night

       For the coming of the day.

 

Death dances on the wind,

       Many run & hide,

              Huts are smashed

              Possessions trashed

       People held & tried.

 

The lucky flee the prairie,

       They reach the forest shade,

              In beds of moss

              We turn & toss

       And embrace the leafy glade.

 

Nkandla nurse us now!

       Mother Forest grant us care!

              While roving bands

              Plod forest sands

       And paths for those who dare!

              * * * * * * * * * *

Sigananda great of heart!

       Who fought for Shaka then!

              Now holds our keep

              In the forest deep

       While we gather up our men.

 

Scream death that Mome Gorge,

       Oh place of our despair!

              When bullets cried

              And brave men died

       In the search for what is fair.

 

And bloody lay the battle,

       Our slaughtered twist & bent,

              While the soldiers jeered

              And the soldiers leered

       At our nation torn & rent.

 

In a brutal act of hate,

       They hacked Bambatha’s head,

              And throughout the land

              They made it stand

       To strengthen what they said.

 

              * * * * * * * * * *

But still we hear his call!

       Even now his voice is loud!

              In towns of smoke

              We feel his hope

       For our nation strong & proud.

 

Bambatha of the Zondi!

       How History stirs your flame,

              And fuels the fire

              Of free desire

       That sparkles in your name.