Durban — The Ladysmith Battlefields Festival – last hosted in 2017 – was relaunched on Friday by the Alfred Duma Local Municipality.
The week-long festival comprises various activities including a parade by soldiers in commemoration of the Battle of Isandlwana.
The festival is held in a region with a rich heritage and military history ranging from the Mfecane period (the early 1800s) to the turn of the century when the Boers tried to stop British imperialism.
It includes Shaka’s predatory campaigns, the arrival of the Voortrekkers, the Anglo-Zulu War and the Anglo-Boer Wars.
Alfred Duma mayor Zama Joel Sibisi said the event previously had the international and community gun run, from the multicultural exhibition and traditional cuisine to a military parade and a mayoral banquet.
The aim was to have a fully-fledged Battlefields Festival next year where they will have the participation of the SANDF, SA Navy, SAPS, and other regiments and the community participating, especially, in the gun run.
Sibisi said the Battlefields Route provided a structured journey around the sites of various battles, skirmishes and sieges situated in a broad belt running through the central core of the region, from Estcourt in the south, through Ladysmith, Dundee and Newcastle, to Charlestown in the north.
“Previously the event attracted tourists from all over the country and the world and we would like to see that happening again and setting tourism goals to a high standard.
“We want the career expo to produce fruit to equip our youth with knowledge, as well as align the skills produced by the district to industry demand … ” Sibisi said.
Alfred Duma municipal manager Sibusisiwe Ngiba said the festival would boost the town’s economy.
Tourism KwaZulu Natal chairperson Sthembiso Madlala said: “We urge people to come and visit all the places in KZN and see the beauty of it.
“Our province is known for being resilient, we fall but we always pick ourselves up. The relaunch of this festival is going to create more job opportunities.”
Neo Matlala said the relaunch was a great initiative as they got to make money and gain exposure; he could not be happier with the relaunch.