The classic academic statement on the Zulu use of firearms during the AngloZulu war of 1879 was written by Jeff Guy in 1971.2 Despite being published over 40 years ago, Guy’s ‘Note’ has remained the most influential work on the subject. In essence, his view was that the ‘Zulu failed to adapt their strategy and tactics in any way which might have enabled them to deploy firearms more effectively’ than they did during the conflict.3 Subsequent scholarship built on Guy’s insights without altering them substantially. Ian Knight argued that the Zulu failed to take advantage of firearms and that, ‘if the Zulu began the war believing that the large quantities of guns in their possession made them the equal of the British, they merely assumed that it would be sufficient to use those arms in support of their existing tactics’.4 A more recent interpretation tells us that
Again, one of the editors of a new major work on Zulu identity notes that the Zulu ‘did eventually acquire a considerable number of firearms by the 1870s,
but they failed to adapt their tactics to the new weapon’.6 In reality, all these are simple reiterations of Guy’s original thesis.