The Legend of Zapatwayél Fernandes the III

Nationality: Indian, Chinese, American

Primary Language: English

Other language(s): N/A

Age: 19 yrs

Occupation: Student

Residence: Plano, Texas

Performance Date: 10/20/2023


“In short, I had a great great great grandfather named Zapatwayél Fernandes III, he was a legend in my family, from my Dad’s side. He told me that Zapatwayél III was an Indian born Portuguese man who grew up in New Zealand and attempted a military coup in 1900. Apparently this coup was supposed to stop New Zealand from aiding the British in The Second Boer war, where New Zealand sent troops like Zapatwayél to aid the British in taking over South African territories of the Cape Colony for money. My dad said that British officials created the war to gain control of the gold and diamond deposits. Zapatwayél nearly succeeded though, but he was shut down, in part by his wife, who turned out to be a traitor, working against Zapatwayél and for the British government, who murdered him in his sleep during a mission of his to further unite a clan to complete the coup. After his death, she was left with a decent sum of money from the British government in order to help raise his 5 children alone and keep quiet. It’s a pretty crazy story, but my dad ensures it’s real, but I don’t really know that and nor does my mom, so we chalk it up to legend.”


My informant, TF, is a friend of mine from my freshman year at USC from Plano, Texas who then moved in late childhood to LA. I talked with him about a legendary figure in his life in the first semester of freshman year after asking him about his ethnic heritage as he is a racially and ethnically mixed/diverse guy. Though when I asked him about this story, he was barely able to recall the full thing. So over the course of around 3 months, I asked him to keep track of this legend and ask his parents about it over Christmas break. And so after break TF came back and finally was able to tell me about the great Zapatwayél The Third, his Great Great Great Grandfather.


I did a ton of research on Zapatwayél and found nothing based on the name. However, when I looked up the Boer war, which was a real war that happened in New Zealand from 1899-1902, and the events described by TF in Zapatwayél’s military coup attempt, were real. There was a military struggle within New Zealand’s forces around 1901 not 1900, and not a coup, but an internal conflict between New Zealand’s military forces, so it could be possible that this was started by Zapatwayél, but I don’t know for sure, and I don’t know the reasoning behind it either. The information TF gave about the war itself was historically accurate, even the places, reasons for British intervention, but, Zapatwayél himself, seemingly could not be found or identified in historical records. Maybe he was covered up by the British and New Zealand government, who knows. I loved this story though. The fact that Zapatwayél is known as a legend on TF’s dad’s side of the family is cool to me. Truly, the fact that Zapatwayél could have been real, even having evidence to back up the coup and war, but not enough information to confirm his existence and influence in the Boer war, thus making it a legend, is fascinating. It’s cool to see how TF’s family history can be tied back to The Boer War, a real war in world history. It’s interesting to see that this legend is being passed down from father to son in TF’s generation.