Igesund learns of Norwegian ancestry

GORDON Igesund has always seemed far too pragmatic a coach for nostalgia but tonight's international against Norway brings him into direct conflict with his heritage.

Igesund is a descendent of the Norwegian Marburg Settlers, who arrived 140 years ago to settle on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, though the Bafana coach candidly admitted he knew little of it.

"I never took too much notice of it before but the Norwegian journalists have filled me in; they've been studying my family tree!"

Igesund was born and brought up in Durban but his father hailed from Port Shepstone where a group of 34 Norwegian families, including one headed by Isak Igesund, immigrated in 1882.

They had come after being seduced by a pamphlet a Norwegian sea captain had written about the virtues of the South African coast and the then Natal colony. The Norwegian families negotiated with the Natal government and they were given free passage from London to land at the mouth of the Umzimkulu River, plus a lot of 100 acres for each family with 2000 acres of common grazing for cattle.

The official history of the settlers records a welcome from the locals for the whites from a cold and faraway land: "Mr Duka Fynn, son of Henry Fynn, the Zulu chief of the district, had staged a war dance by 400 Zulus as a welcome. Dressed in full war regalia with spears and cowhide shields they made a terrifying impression on the newcomers as they came down the hill with war cries, and began stamping back and forth until sand and dust were blowing in a cloud. The women and children fled to the big shed, some of the men entered the bush nearby, unable to fathom this strange welcome. Soon, however, three big oxen were driven into the dance and pierced with spears. The warriors drank the blood, the skins were torn off and the carcases cut up and grilled on coal fires round about."