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Hlubi men and women at a kraal near Pietermaritzburg, 19th century

The Hlubi (or amaHlubi also known as the Zawa, Ngelengele) are an ethnic group who originate from the Samburu people of Kenya and the Shubi, an ethnic and linguistic group based in the Kagera Region of Tanzania. The amaHlubi took part in the southward migration of the eMbo group/nation or amaLala from central Africa. After settling briefly along the Lubombo mountains, a mountain range which extends from northern (present day) Zululand northwards along the Swaziland-Mozambique border, they migrated still further south and settled in what today is known as KwaZulu-Natal as long ago as the 13th century, leaving behind a section of their group which later became the amaSwazi nation. For at least two centuries they have been a part of the Nguni, Mbo or Lala nation. At present they live in Mozambique, Swaziland and the Republic of South Africa in the KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and North West provinces. They were traditionally hunters and warriors but now are predominantly agriculturalists. The amaHlubi are the oldest in origin and are a much older tribe than either the amaZulu or amaXhosa. Little is documented about this tribe, as most of the literature concerns the time of King Langalibalele, which consequently offers little in terms of the roots of the amaHlubi nation.


Hlubi kingsEdit

Below is a traditional estimation of the Hlubi kings that ruled from 1300 till the present day.[1] Note that Hlubi history comes mainly from oral sources and especially the earlier estimated dates may be inaccurate.

King Reign
Chibi 1300–1325
Lubelo 1325–1350
Busobengwe (Bhungane I) 1350–1370
Fulathel’ilanga 1370–1390
Bhele 1390–1410
Lufelelwenja 1410–1430
Sidwabasenkomo 1430–1450
Mhuhu 1450–1475
Mpembe 1475–1500
Mhlanga 1500–1525
Musi 1525–1550
Masoka 1550–1575
Ndlovu 1575–1600
Dlamini 1600–1625
Mthimkhulu I 1625–1650
Ncobo and later, Rhadebe 1650–1675
Dlomo I 1675–1710
Mashiya 1710–1720
Ntsele 1735–1760
Bhungane II 1760–1800
Mthimkhulu II (Ngwadlazibomvu) 1800–1818
Dlomo II and later, Mthethwa (commonly known as Langalibalele I) 1839–1889
Siyephu (Mandiza) 1897–1910
Tatazela (Mthunzi) 1926–1956
Muziwenkosi (Langalibalele ll) 1974 –


The amaHlubi speak a dialect of Swazi, one of the Tekela languages in the Nguni branch of the Niger–Congo language family.

The Hlubi dialect is endangered, and most Hlubi speakers are elderly and illiterate. There are attempts by Hlubi intellectuals to revive the language and make it one of the eleven recognised languages in South Africa.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Isizwe SamaHlubi: Submission to the Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims: Draft 1" (PDF). July 2004. Retrieved 28 July 2011.

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit