Mamani kaPhahlo

Mamani kaPhahlo was a Queen of the Mpondomise in her own right from the 1750s, following after her father King Phahlo.[1] She is also known as Mbingwa. As the eldest among 3 daughters of the Great Wife of King Phahlo, she successfully challenged her half-brothers from the smaller houses for the throne upon the death of her father. Although, she married Ntsibatha, a Mpondo Princess, she passed on without issue.[2] She was succeeded by one of her brothers, Sontlo, who she installed in her position despite challenges from some royal family members[3]

Mpondomise people
Reignlate 1700s
Bornearly 1700s
Diedlate 1700s
MotherPrincess of the Xesibe
ReligionAncestral Worship

Early life and familyEdit

Mamani (sometimes called Mbingwa) was born to the King of the Mpondomise, Phahlo, and a Xesibe Princess whose name is sadly not known.[4] Mamani's mother was the Great Wife. To her mother, she was the eldest of 3 daughters and did not have any brothers. Her father had sons with his other wives. Her birth and death dates are unknown.

One of Mamani's sisters, Thandela, married the Xhosa King Phalo and was the mother of Gcaleka.[5] Gcaleka later became the King of the Xhosas. Not much is known about the other sister.

Ascending to the throne and reignEdit

In the 1750s Mamani's father, Phahlo, passed on. Traditionally her father was meant to be succeeded by a child of the Great Wife. However, custom dictated that the heir needed to be a male heir.[6] If the Great Wife did not have male children, like Mamani's mother, then a male heir would be searched for among the children of the other wives, starting with the wife married to the king for the longest (i.e. most senior wife) followed by the junior wives (according their seniority), until a son is found. If a son is not found then one of the king's brothers (preference given to the oldest brother and his male-descendants, then moving down to the youngest brother) would assume the position.

However the Great Wife of Phahlo did not have any male children. Defy tradition and custom, as the eldest of the 3 daughters of Phahlo's Great Wife, Mamani ascended the throne upon the death of her father.[7] This event triggered the saying among historians who write about the Mpondomise "the woman who became a king".

When dissenters rose against her, she killed them. She mounted armies against those who challenged her authority too. Her reign was felt throughout the lands of the Mpondomise (from uMthatha to Umzimkhulu.[8] She was a strong monarch.

Marriage and issueEdit

Despite being a woman herself, Mamani married a Princess from the Mpondo kingdom, the daughter of King Nyawuza called Ntsibatha.[9] Instead of consummating the marriage herself, she asked her dearest brother, Sontlo, to do it.[10] Sontlo was the son of Mamani's maternal aunt and Mamani's father, Phahlo.


Gradually she began to hand over monarchal duties to Sontlo, while, she actively influenced the successful transition of power to him.[11] Thus, Sontlo became her successor while she was alive and continued to reign upon her death.

Preceded by Mpondomise Queen in her own right Succeeded by


  1. ^ Blignaut, Charl (2016). "Book review: Mda's living history". Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  2. ^ Flowah, Mbali. "REVIEW: Little Suns (2015) by Zakes Mda". Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  3. ^ Soga, John Henderson. "Amampondomise" (PDF). Cambridge.
  4. ^ High Court of South Africa (2018). (PDF) {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Scheub, Harold (1996). The Tongue Is Fire: South African Storytellers and Apartheid. ISBN 9780299150945.
  6. ^ South Africa: Eastern Cape High Court, Mthatha (2020). "King Phahlo Royal Family and Another v Molosi and Others (3501/2019)" (PDF). SAFLII.
  7. ^ Bongela, Milisuthando (2016). "Beyoncé channels ghosts of black women past". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  8. ^ Scheub, Harold (2009). Shadows: Deeper Into Story. ISBN 9781893311862.
  9. ^ Little Suns. "Friday October 22, 1880". Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  10. ^ Mda, Zakes (2015). Little Suns. South Africa.: Penguin Random House.
  11. ^ ZwelamInsight (5 March 2015). "King Mhlontlo – Freedom Warrior".