The Colenso power station closed down many years ago, but visitors to the battlefield will know of the adverse effect the power station had on its integrity. The situation was somewhat mitigated by the removal of graves and memorials to Clouston, but the battlefield itself has none of the serenity and atmosphere that visitors experience on visits to, for example, Spioenkoip and Wagon Hill/Caesar's Camp.
Disturbing news in yesterday's Daily News (Durban) is that a new smelter/power station is to be built at Colenso at a coast of ZAR85 billion. While this is a lot less in real money, the size of the project does not bode well for the future of the battlefield. The KZN Premier is quoted as saying that the development would "usher in a new era characterised by employment and prosperity in the province". Good news for business and some of KZN's myriad unemployed, but another nail in the coffin of the province's Colonial heritage.
It is such a shame the local authority does not seem to care about the Colonies heritage, if people thought a little more and actually started to work together, it could be a real money spinner, with so many people spread across the old empire that would want to visit, but, of course, the whole country would need to be made a safer place, before many would do so.
Given the number of unemployed people and the state of the economy, South Africa will not become a safer place any time soon.
The battlefields that notably do still attract foreign (but specifically British) tourists are those of the Zulu War. However, the actual number coming for this purpose each year is very small. A recent report in a local newspaper bemoaned the fact that visitors staying at Isandlwana Lodge and visiting the nearby battlefields seemed to be mostly British. The question asked was why there were not more South Africans doing so. In my opinion it is the indifference to Colonial history on the part of the majority of the population. Safety is also a factor. Two of the best-known battlefield guides have in recent years died at a result of criminal actions - one was shot dead by intruders, and the other died of injuries sustained in a robbery.
Yes, I fear the safety aspect is the number one issue for the vast majority of people here, which is a great shame, notwithstanding, I think if people used a common sense approach they would doubtless be okay.
Common sense does help, Frank, but the frightening aspects of violent crime in SA are its randomness and the unnecessary violence that often goes with it. Voluntarily giving up your car and other possessions to a criminal does not guarantee your safety, which might be the case elsewhere in the world.
I certainly was not thinking about giving up a car or indeed anything else for that matter, I would certainly be thinking about a suitable escort at every location of any potential visit, in particular, those notorious supermarket car parks!
Almost Christmas, I hope all is well with you and yours,