Infant Natal was a tough and perilous place. Dense bush surrounded the Bay and wild animals roamed the countryside: elephant and lion were common; crocodiles and hippo were a constant danger. The terrain called for strong characters who could fend for themselves and survive the many pitfalls. Dick King was one such person. His adventures and escapades were legion and legendary. It twas he, who set off from the Fort in Durban, to seek assistance from the British Garrison in far-off Grahamstown for the British soldiers besieged by the Boers. For the first part of his 600-mile ride, he was accompanied by his stalwart companion, Ndongeni ka Xoki, whose role in this exploit has often been underestimated. Dick King’s modest nature precluded him from talking about his life and it was left to others to chronicle his story. The author has attempted to piece together the strands from various secondary sources, newspaper cuttings, family history and archival research, and to place them in the context of the Natal of Dick King’s time. One of her primary aims has been to let those involved speak for themselves. Dick King’s extraordinary achievements are complemented by the life and pioneering spirit of his eldest son, Richard Philip Henry, who lived a fascinating life, mainly in the Transvaal. Men of this calibre form part of both South Africa’s history and mythology.
Jacqueline Kalley has a special interest in their lives as Dick King was her maternal great-great-grandfather, and his son lived the last two years of his 94-year-old life in her family home in Pietermaritzburg. Jacqueline Kalley has her PhD in Information Studies and for many years was Librarian at the South African Institute of International Affairs. Librarianship has given way to writing and publishing and she is the CEO of Otterley Press.