Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Rorke’s Drift (and Hope & Glory)

It is the 140th anniversary of the battle of Rorke’s Drift, a minor engagement in the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879. Contravening orders, Prince Dabulamanzi kaMpande led a force of roughly 4000 Zulu warriors against a unit of 150 British soldiers led by lieutenants Chard and Bromehead, based at the mission station in Rorke’s Drift. On the 22nd and 23rd of January, the Zulu forces repeatedly attacked the British defenses, and were pushed back, in a battle pitting numbers against technology. An estimated 350 Zulu warriors were killed and 500 wounded, and 17 British soldiers died and 15 were wounded.

I first heard of Rorke’s Drift when I was ten or twelve, when I first saw the film Zulu, directed in 1964 by Cy Enfield and featuring Stanley Baker and Michael Caine. It’s still one of my favorite movies, and back in the day it made a colossal impact – the Anglo-Zulu war is not something you get in the history curriculum in Italian middle grades, and therefore the movie was, to me and my friends, first, basically an adventure story, and secondly, totally open-ended; we had no idea of how it would end, every twist and turn, every new charge was a surprise.

Zulu is a great movie (yes, I know, it is historically inaccurate, so sue me) and I guess my interest for colonial history and the British empire started there.
It was therefore only to be expected that I would do my own take on Rorke’s Drift sooner or later.
Cue to Hope & Glory.

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The war is over

Today is the 4th of November, and in this day in Italy we celebrate “National Unity”.
On the 4th of November 1918 the armistice became official between Italy and Austria-Hungary – and this is the reason why this day is special.
It’s the day the Great War ended for us Italians.

Fortunino Matania (1881-1963). Поле великой скорби и великой славы- поле битвы при Ипре - Посещение старых сражений Западного фронта

Now it’s the 100th anniversary of the Armistice.
I don’t know if there will be any celebration hereabouts – we are after all in the wild hills of Astigianistan, but if on one side we’ve been subjected recently to a revision of those events, on the other it is also true that we are going through a very unpleasant resurgence of the sort of mindless and ignorant “patriotism” that is fed by slogans and only profits cunning rabble-rousers. Continue reading