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Book Launch, Maqoma's Last War: The Sinking of the Birkenhead, By Nicholas Dekker

Amava Heritage Publishing will be launching their second book on Nkosi Maqoma in collaboration with the Port Elizabeth Museum at the Bayworld on Tuesday 27 February 2018, guests are encouraged to please arrive at 17:30 for 18:00 and access will be free.

The launch will mark the 166 years of the sinking of the British Naval Ship at Danger Point off Stanford, in the Cape West Coast with 643 troops, crew and support staff on 25-26 February 1852. “The book makes a compelling case against what we have been fed all these years as “conventional (colonial) wisdom” that the ship ran aground by hitting a rock since it was too close to the coast, a decision that the captain took to gain more speed from Simon’s Town to East London,” said Themba Ngada Director of Amava Publishing.

The author is a perlemoen diver who bumped into the shipwreck while fishing and obtained exploration rights thinking he would find gold. His investigation took him from 1958 to 1998 and the gold he found is in this book, that the Birkenhead was actually sabotaged and lured to the coast. What was the destination of this ship? Who stood to gain if it did not arrive, were his research questions. The ship was bringing reinforcements to the war in the Amathole Mountains, Major-General Maqoma stood to gain if the troops died before arrival. Ngxukumeshe or Hermanus Matroos, a Khoi/Xhosa soldier and sailor was a co-conspirator...

This is the 8th out of the 9 Cape Xhosa wars of dispossession and the longest, the last for Maqoma as it was followed by his two stints on Robben Island, killed on the 9th of September 1873.

For catering purposes, people are encouraged to RSVP to Wongalethu Benya on or call 041 584 0650 no later than 26 February 2018.

Much as it is a history book, this one departs from the academic style of its cousins, it is written by a fisherman, in that language, no holds barred. He records the first in one chapter and how he went about finding them in the next. If he hates a character he does not shy away from calling him names, Harry Smith being a case in point. He does have a side against the English favouring the Xhosa, he is not neutral.

Amava Heritage Publishing is a young black-owned publishing house dedicate to heritage material. Their chosen mandate is to search, research, collate, collect, debate, publish and preserve lost, hidden and buried heritage material into books, film, audio records and museum material that needs to come to light.

The other two books they have published:

  1. Maqoma: The Legend of a Great Xhosa Warrior 1798 to 1873 by Timothy Stapleton.
  2. UbuNgqina bobuKrestu Bama-Afrika, by Archbishop NH Ngada, three other titles will be published within the first half of this year.

All the titles will be available for sale at the launch at launch prices all bank cards are welcome.

For sound bites and further information contact Themba on 074 580 9539.

Issued by Amava Heritage Publishing in partnership with Bay World Museum, email:, web:, also on Facebook and Tweeter.