The Bambatha rebellion was a revolt against the British rule and taxation in Natal, South Africa in 1906. This revolt was led by Bambatha KaMancinza, he was the leader of the amaZondi Clan of the Zulu people who lived in the Mpanza Valley, KwaZulu-Natal.

Bambatha ruled about 5,500 people living in about 1,100 households. In 1887, Zulu land was annexed by the colony of Natal and the people of Zululand were stripped of their arable land. There was a widespread of poverty which was made worse by the number of natural disasters. In 1903, an epidemic of east coast fever decimated the cattle, there were swarms of locusts and enormous damage was caused by a severe hailstorm in 1905. All those factors led to a serious economic depression.

The colonial authorities introduced a €1 poll tax in addition to the existing hut tax to pressure Zulu men to enter the labor market, and they were subjected to a system of forced labor called isibalo, which caused hardship and resentment. Therefore, white farmers took over more and more land, they established more farms and sugar plantations.

In the years that followed the Anglo-Boer war, British employers in natal had difficulty recruiting black farm workers because of the increased competition from the gold mine of the Witwatersrand. Rather than work for the white farmers, the black workforce was attracted to the goldmines of the Witwatersrand, there they could earn better wages. In 1905, the Natal government under Charles Smythe, in their attempts to increase the supply of labor and to force more black men into becoming agricultural laborers, they imposed a poll of €1 on all the men over the age of 18. To pay for this new tax, the men would have to work for cash. The chiefs and their people were required to report to the office of their respective resident magistrate to pay the poll tax on the 1st of January 1906. While some of the chiefs ordered their people to pay, many other opted for passive resistance and refused to pay. Bambatha, was one of the chiefs who resisted the introduction and collection of the new tax.

In February, martial law was introduced in Natal and the militia was mobilised under Colonel Duncan Mackenzie to restore order and the troops were sent to Mgeni. In the resulting of martial law introduction, Bambatha fled north to consult with King Dinuzulu, he then invited him and his family to stay at his royal homestead. Bambatha later returned to the Mpanza valley to only discover that the Natal government had deposed of him as Chief. Bambatha gathered together a small group of supporters and began launching a series of guerrilla attacks, they used the Nkandla forest as a base. Following a series of initial successes, colonial troops were sent out on an expedition under the command of Colonel Duncan Mackenzie. The sun rose and the soldiers opened fire on Bambatha’s supporters with machine guns and canons while they were armed with traditional assegais, knobkerries and cowhide shields. The troops brutally crushed the resistance; burning down homesteads and seizing livestock. After the incident the Natal government demolished its force believing they had beaten the Zulu population into submission.

Bambatha was killed and beheaded during the battle; however, many of his supporters believed that he was still alive, and his wife refused to go into mourning. Between 3,000 and 4,000 Zulu’s were killed during the revolt and more than 7,000 were imprisoned and 4,000 flogged.