Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Dick King Statue: who are the people in the boat?

The Dick King Statue, Durban

A blog visitor poses the above question, referring to one of the side panels which are incorporated below the equestrian statue of King which stands on the Esplanade, Durban.

You can see a close-up of the relevant panel here:

In 1842, when Captain Smith and his regiment were besieged in their camp at Port Natal, George Cato (later to be mayor of Durban) volunteered to ride to Grahamstown to alert the authorities and obtain relief for the British garrison. However, Captain Smith would not allow Cato to go, and it was decided Dick King should do so instead. Cato and his brother Joseph Cato woke King at midnight and rowed him and his African companion Ndongeni across the Bay, towing two horses.

Their names appear at the foot of the scene depicted; from left to right: Undongeni [sic], Joseph Cato, Dick King, George C Cato. Dick King’s horse is swimming at the stern of the boat which is carrying King; Ndongeni’s horse is alongside the second boat.

There are some discrepancies in historical sources regarding who was in which boat. For more on this and other controversial aspects of the statue, Google the Quick View of 'Negotiating Public Memory: the Dick King Memorial in Durban' by S Marschall.

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