Zwangendaba

King of the Ngoni

Zwangendaba kaZiguda Jele Gumbi (c. 1785 – 1848) was the king of the Ngoni people for more than thirty years, from approximately 1815 to his death in 1848. He was the younger brother of Somkhanda kaZiguda Jele who remained with the Gumbi clan in Kwazulu Natal in areas of Pongola and the current Chief is Mbhekiseni Zeblon Gumbi. After being driven from the eastern region of what is now South Africa, near modern Swaziland, by the Zulus during the Mfecane, Zwangendaba led his people, then called the "Jere", on a migration of more than 1000 miles lasting more than twenty years. Their journey took them through the areas now known as Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi to the western part of Tanzania, where Zwangendaba set up a base at Mapupo. The Ngoni, once a small tribe, extended their dominion even further through present-day Tanzania, Malawi, and Zambia when they fragmented into five separate groups following his death.

Zwangendaba was a leader of a section of the Ngoni people who broke away from the rule of Shaka the Zulu king. Using many of Shaka's methods of rule such as rigid discipline in military and social organisation, he knitted his tribe and the unfortunate people abducted along the way into a cohesive unit. With his people he migrated north into tropical Africa, and is believed to have destroyed many of the structures at Great Zimbabwe on passing through. The migration proceeded across the Zambezi in 1835 on a day when there was a total eclipse of the sun. Advancing north, ravaging the countries they crossed, they eventually arrived in the south west of what is now Tanzania. On the death of Zwangendaba, the Ngoni split into three groups, one settling in Malawi, one in Songea (Tanzania) and a third group migrated north to Mbogwe in Usumbwa where they fought with the famous Mirambo of Unyamwezi.

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