Ngoni’s – The Wondering Jews of Africa

DSC00002By Charles M. Govati

Firstly both Ngonis and Jews trace their descent through Patrilineal custom, from father to son. As it is from Ndlovu Ntu to MswatiKanjedza Gomani 5. Among Maseko Ngonis and from Abraham to Jesus among the Jews (Mathews.1:1-16 & Luke 3:32-37). Originally the Jews did not become a powerful nation until the advent of Abraham the son of Terah the Chaldean. Abraham was rejected by th ehouse of his father because of his refusal to worship idols. Prior to this he was a resident of Chaldean living in Ur, then settled at Haran before being called to go to Canaan the promised land of the Jews when he was 75 years old. (Genesis 12: 1-7)

On the other hand, the Ngonis did not become a great powerful nation until the advent of Inkosi Ya Makosi Shaka Senzangakhona Zulu the so called ‘illegitimate’ son of Senzangakhona in 1816. Shaka was rejected by the Royal household of his fatherled by one of his powerful aunt Mkabayi (Anazulu), who later connived with Prince Dingani to kill Shaka his half brother. Prior to this they were but a tiny clan, an infinitesimal fraction of the southern Nguni, who in turn were but small section of the southern Africa banthu race.

Shaka and Abraham are both patriarchs of Ngoni and Jew tribes respectively.The Ngoni and Jewish religions are both spiritual. Idolatry in anyform was never accepted or characterized in their dogma. They both believed in one great, and all powerful Deity who taught them what was good for them (Micah6:8), Unkulukulu in Ngonis and Jehovah in Jews. The both religions had great emphasis on the sanctity of the home, family life, the cardinal virtues of purity, honesty, obedience to parents and all in authority, helpfulness to others, general sharing of all the good things which came to them courtesy to all and unstinted hospitality to the stranger.

They also both believed in life after death, that once again nature would rise from death to burst into forthnew life. (John 12:24) They both had many rules and regulations governing their daily lives.In times of sickness, disaster, famine, death the Ngonis made sacrifices to appease their greater spirit while the Jews offered their sacrifices and to ask for forgiveness from God. They both hadstern laws against adultery, incest, sodomy, divorce, marriage, maintenance, inheritance and hospitality, with very strict lawsregarding the uncleanness of women at certain periods and thepurification ceremonies that were carried out. (Leviticus 19) Consequently, both Ngonis and Jews circumcised every male member of their tribes. Among the Ngonis Umghedho (Circumcision) was the sign of maturityand acceptance into manhood (Umjaha Rank). Unless a youth is circumcised he wasnot regarded as a man (Mjaha). Whilst among the Jews circumcision was the sign of the everlasting covenant between God and Abraham and his descendants as thechosen people. (Genesis 17: 9-14)

The Ngonis and Jews both had great respect and sanctity of theirKings, they both believed that Kings were appointed directly by heavens and that the punishment for daring to lift a hand against the King was instant death. Like Shaka, Cetchwayo and David, as highpriests of the nation, Kings were the central figure in all theirceremonies. (II Samuel. 1) A woman would never become King or a Priest or holdany decision making position though they were always consulted. Women were also pivotal in arranging marriages. Socially the question of land ownership. Among the Ngonis all the land belonged to the Inkosi Ya Makosi and was let out by him in trust tohis Inkoses who in turn leased it to the members of the clans. It would never under any circumstances be sold or given in perpetuity toany one. And among the Jews, the land was not sold forever, for theland belonged to God, and that the Jews were its strangers and sojourners (Leviticus 25; 23) Belief in dreams was one of the great aspects in their creed, theNgonis were great believers in dreams for it was the accepted ruleamong them that it was through dreams that the spirits of theirancestors often communicate with them. Consequently, when such occur, the Inyanga was to be consulted for interpretation. Just like the dreams of Joseph and Pharaoh (Genesis 40 & 41).

They both had great feast of first fruits called umkhosi/Ncw’ala amongthe Ngonis which had a number of similarities with the Jewish feast of tabernacles. (Leviticus 23:9-14) Historically, the Ngonis and Jews both crossed large bodies of water,Ngonis crossed Zambezi in around 1835 to 1840 and the Hebrews crossedred sea from Egypt to Canaan after staying in Egypt for 430 years.(Exodus. 14).They both travelled long distances on foot; Jews from Egypt to Canaan,Ngonis from South Africa to places around Lake Victoria. They were both challenged with wars in which they defeated and conquered othertribes. No wonder currently both Ngonis and Jews are the greatest wanderers of the world. Having Ngoni scattered in Africa, from SouthAfrica, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Mali & Nigeria. With Jews being found in Israel, Poland, German, Belgium, France, Hungary, America, and what have you. To be continued ……………Zimatha

Remasekongoni Research Team



By Rodney Tingo Kanyama Nzunga & Collins Patrick Chibondo Nyoni

THE SENIOR LION ARRIVESIMG_8819 Trimmed for web png
We were already waiting for Ingwenyama Njengabaso Mpenzeni Jere the 4th to cross the border from the Zambian side into Malawi at 1 p.m. The Malawi welcoming delegation was led by Inkosi Nyoka Thole and his Izinduna. The delegation included Lilongwe Ngoni Chiefs and their Ngoma Impi and the Remasekongoni Team.
As we waited for the arrival of Ngwenyama at the border, Inkosi Nyoka and the Remasekongoni team shared notes on several Traditional & Cultural developments. As usual Inkosi Nyoka as an elder of Mpenzeni 4th shared a lot of wisdom with us especially on the way the Maseko Paramouncy is currently handling traditional issues especially on the Inkosi Masula saga and the grooming of our young Ngwenyama.
HRH Inkosi ya Makosi Mpezeni 4 crossed the border at 14:00hrs and was welcomed by Inkosi Nyoka. We all sat on the floor of the Malawi Immigration Office at Mchinji border to perform a rich and detailed Bayete salute to the Ngwenyama led by Aphiri Impi Charles Govati. After the bayete salute and physical hand greetings HRH Mpenzeni and all the Ngonis who gathered at the border formed a car convoy led by the Malawi Police and we hit the road at 100 kms per heading for the Mchinji District Commissioners Office. When we arrived at the DC’s HRH Ngwenyama Mpenzeni alighted from his car and we performed and Royal Rich Bayethe Salute and praise for the Mtuto Jere descendant. Therafter HRH Mpenzeni 4 went straight to work.

Ngwenyama Mpezeni 4’s first assignment was a meeting in the DC’s office where he was welcomed by the DC’s representative, and the Executive Director of NASME, a Mr. William Mwale. The Dc’s representative and all senior District officials expressed their gratitude for the Ngwenyama’s visit and Inkosi Nyoka led us all in giving the Royal Salute to the Ngwenyama, We all shouted the praise – Bayete Ngwenyama! In response, HRH thanked the DC’s office, Inkosi Nyoka and his entourage and the Remasekongoni team for welcoming him with great respect here in Malawi! HRH Mpenzeni 4 also thanked HE Amayi Joyce Banda and her Government for the various developments in his area. He reminded and encouraged all of us present that traditional leaders should always recognize the Government of the day since it holds the key to many developmental doors. HRH Mpenzeni 4 went on to pay special gratitude to the one and only Impi Aphiri CMG, “Mwana wa Kwende” for the work he has been doing for Chingoni in Malawi and bringing various Ngoni groups together. Ngwenyama Mpezeni 4 specifically mentioned and recognized how because of CMG’s efforts, HRH Mpezeni 4 has connected with HRH Zintambila in Mocambique and The Mjeru Ngoni’s of Zulu Gama in Tanzania. HRH Mpezeni told all the officials that it was through the unification efforts of The Remasekongoni led by Impi CMG that he was given great honour and respect during his recent 2 week’s visit to the Zintambira Maseko Paramouncy in Mozambique.

The next official assignment for HRH Mpezeni 4 was a historical visit to Fort Manning. As we all know, Fort Manning is as historical to Mpezeni’s people as is Nkolimbo to the Gomani Maseko people because on 20th January 1898, Sir Harry Johnston’s rifle wielding troops, largely Indians, Yaos, and Tongas, masacred aNgoni warriors who were being led by Mpezeni’s son Nsingu (Nsingo). UNsingu himself and some of his men fled. Between 10,000 and 16,000 of their cattle were seized and sent exported to Salisbury in southern Rhodesia. This sad massacre and cattle robbery by the colonial government was the source of the protest by the Livingstonia missionaries which they made in their paper The Aurora. It was after this battle with the colonialist that Ngwenyama Mpezeni was taken prisoner to Fort Manning where he was kept for one year, and he died in 1900. His son Nsingu and other family members fled to KwaM’belwa and remained in Mzimba for about twenty years.

After a reflection of the Fort Manning saga, HRH Njengabaso Mpenzeni 4 decreed (bayaduma umthetho) that Fort Manning should be turned into a historical place. He instructed all his Makhosi in Mchinji to mobilize all ngonis to one day come to clean up the place and requested the DC’s Office, the Hon. Members of Parliament present to commence the processes which will facilitate the conversion of the site to a Ngoni memorial site.

Next destination for HRH’s procession was Ludzi Parish. There HRH Mpezeni 4 was shown around the farming efforts that the Catholic sisters based there are doing such as mushroom farming and Vegetable oil extraction. HRH Mpezeni 4, a Catholic himself, also had a brief audience with the sisters at their main Convent. The sisters were so delighted to have HRH as their surprise guest. HRH Mpezeni took some time to chat with the three old/aged sisters who were part of the founding sisters of the congregation. It was so touching to hear the oldest sister who was wheel chaired to the audience with Ngwenyama say that and I quote :- “God was keeping me alive to see you my Ngwenyama! Now I can die!” – end quote.

From Ludzi HRH Mpenzeni’s entourage proceeded to Inkosi Zulu’s headquarters (KwaZulu) where a plot for the Ngoni cultural centre has been earmarked. This was probably the climax of the Ingwenyama’s visit because there Inkosi ya Makosi futhi iduma Umthetho, again Ngwenyama spelled out Ngoni Law, and very important since he cleared the KwaZulu chieftainship cloud. The Ngwenyama cleared all the confusions and doubts by simply reminding all people present what Ngoni Umthetho says about the inheritance of an Inkosi’s position. He urged everyone to ensure that the seven year old Crown Prince should be enthroned. He told the people who gathered that an Inkosi becomes an Inkosi in his mother’s womb and not through our opinions, debates or politics. This young Prince is a King and no one disputes that because he is Zulu, and it is by God’s appointment that he was made a Kosi. He reminded them that he can coronate him anytime when they are ready, as his age is not important in our Ngoni culture.

Ngwenyama Mpezeni emphasized the need for aNgoni to keep the spirit of Mdauko, of the origins, of oneness, that all these border issues are only man made, for political convenience. All Ngonis in Malawi and Zambia are one! He said that the border lines were basically created for goods and not for people. He reminded his subjects that at the border they charge duty on goods such as cars or tractors, etc, but they do not humans duty! The Ngwenyama gave an example of cross border marriages. If one picks a wife from Malawi and crossed the border into Zambia, they wouldn’t be charged duty at the border when they cross and they can live as a family for as long as they want. He reminded everyone that they are all children of Zongendaba, the HRH himself and everyone else, amidst Bayete salute led by Inkosi Nyoka and Impi Govati Phiri. Ngwenyama recalled how this spirit of oneness allowed him the privilege of a plane “kumuthwala ndi kukamushiya” ku Mocambique kwa Ingwenyama inzake Zintambila Maseko where he was greatly honored beyond his expectations. HRH thanked the amaGomani Ngonis who were present. He actually pointed at Impi CMG who was wearing a shirt showing HRH Mswati’s youthful handsome face. Inkosi ya Makosi said that “Ubukosi” siutha, amatha ndi munthuyo”. ; Inkosi ya Makosi Mpezeni reiterated the need for Makhosi to “ukusebenza” with the Government of day. He urged Inkoses and chiefs not to be partisan because politicians come and go, while the kingdom is permanent.

After this historical event, HRH Mpezeni was invited to a meal at Joe’s Motel at Mchinji Boma. Inkhanda (Group Headman) Mazaza Jere immediately returned to Lilongwe with his entourage. The rest of us who were in the HRH Polycarp Mputa Gama 5’s entourage remained to sit at table with HRH Mpezeni, Inkosi Nyoka, Impi CMG and the DC’s representative at the Motel. During the supper, Ngwenyama Mpenzeni 4 discussed many important things with us about Chingoni and the dealings with our national Government.

Coming to the Maseko Gomani Paramouncy, HRH Mpezeni asked a very sensitive and pertinent question to Impi CMG. HRH asked and I quote – “who crowned Mswati Gomani?” Instead of answering the question directly and understanding the implications, Impi Govati Phiri threw the same question to me. Realizing the importance, gravity and relevance of the question I replied and told Impi Govati that I could not properly answer that question. Impi Govati finally replied that no one did coronate Mswati Gomani 5 despite the fact that HRH Mbelwa 4 was present at the function in his private capacity as he was also not officially invited to the Government installation ceremony by the coronation committee which never coroneted Mswati Gomani 5.

On this point, HRH Mpezeni 4 emphasized that the Nyong’o ritual cannot just be missed out on crowning a Ngoni Inkosi ya Makosi or an Inkosi. Modern clothes, anyone can wear, but nyong’o is something else, very special in our Ngoni tradition. HRH pointed to Inkosi Nyoka “a Nyoka awa ndi okhwima osati kukhwima kwinaku kwa mankhwala ayi koma chieftainship because of the Nyongo ritual”. HRH Mpenzeni 4 warned us that we should know that this was a deliberate move by the Royal Aunt because she knows that Mswati Gomani is not yet traditionally coronated as such she can easily take over the Paramouncy anytime. The Ngwenyama advised us to ensure that Mswati Gomani is traditionally coroneted by a Ngwenyama! Unless we do the Nyongo ritual, Mswati Gomani 5 will simply become a puppet and will never be traditionally and culturally mature (Khwima). The Ngwenyama also reminded us that he also heard a lot of stories about the Lizulu intrigues masterminded again by the Royal Aunt during his 2 week’s visit to Mozambique Tete province and that there has been much effort to remove Ngwenyama Raphael Dama Zintambila 4 from the throne and he wondered what the Maseko men were doing to stop this madness! HRH Mpezeni wondered how men could fail to uphold traditions including making forgeting the Nyong’o ritual during a coronation ceremony!

According to the Shakan tradition, Zulu impis always went to war accompanied by young boys called Udibi who carried the seniors’ food suppliers and other things. But this accompaniment also provided them a double opportunity for apprenticeship necessary for their development as future Zulu military forces. Mlumuzana Maseko Dr. John Chikago has once on this forum mentioned something akin to this apprenticeship program happening in his youthful days when Ngoni Elders mixed with the youth if only for the purpose of mentorship. In the same way I as a junior warrior and as an apprentice, cannot find the right words to thank Impi Govati, HRH Polycarp Mputa Gama the 5th, Inkosi Nyoka, Ikhanda Mazaza Jere, my usually reticent fellow warrior Nyoni Collins Chibondo and my mzala and mzanga wa mbewu, Masina Masa Malili, for giving me and my family the privilege of witnessing at first hand, HRH Ngwenyama Mpezeni the 4th at work, and being part of the Malawi delegation which welcomed him here in Malawi. This experience, one just doesn’t get very often. Impi Govati, please know that I feel humbled that I have had to work with you in developing Chingoni in this way. It may look like a small step, but certainly a giant leap. Someday this work will be recognized and honoured. We are documenting Ngoni history- a very rare activity among Malawians which can only be done by visionaries and not some purposeless Ngoni party planners. I feel proud to be part of this work. Let’s keep it going, in some way. It’s what we live for.

My wife was with me, and my brother Pastor Aubrey’s daughter Luntha adaona Chingoni; iye kusanganikila ndi anthu adzibiya iye nkumalila, choncho akuphunzila ndithu basi. Masina Masa’s boys were happy too. Thanks to CMG, bringing Ngonis together, may God bless this man. This Impi has enabled HRH Mpezeni to connect with HRH Zintambila and The Mjeru Zulu Gama Ngonis of Songeya in Tanzania. It is very inspiring to note that for all this passion and dedication he gets no pay or any monetary returns, except the motivation of the old warriors. Kuthanda Chingoni basi. Really inspiring!

Reconciling ChiNgoni and modern life is a particular challenge because of the pressure coming from many social centripetal and centrifugal forces in our lives: family, Mpingo, economics, etc. My wife Nankhoma, even though she is 100% Ngoni herself, and coming from Fort naMlangeni, but many times she questions my obsession for Chingoni making such remarks as “Ine ayi koma Chingoni”. Timachita kukalipa pena kuti asatiletse kupita mmisonkhano ya ma Impi. And in the same way the general Christian attitude has a way to frown on men obsessed with Chingoni, but when the Negro spiritual says “I’m gonna lay down my sword and shield/Down by the Riverside/I won’t study war no more” the lesson for the Ngoni was that he should learn to be a gentle warrior, and not necessarily lose his will to fight! Educated and focused on his mission as a Ngoni, and living harmoniously with others. Christian yes, but rooted in umthetho wa aNgoni!

Sometimes people from other tribes are unsettled and they think that we aNgoni are eccentric, and they wonder what’s the point in all this. But Chingoni is our purpose in life, practicing the ancient Ngoni traditions in modern times, in the way we raise our children; in the way we conduct our businesses and make money. It is about the spirit of determination and succeeding despite obstacles. It is about vision and strategy: Maphupho (dreams) of a higher standard of life; knowing our origins as AbeZansi (people of the South) and keeping the mdauko spirit where it all started. It is about values of honesty, team work, and sharing. As was demonstrated again and again by ancient aNgoni, and as has been echoed in that brief moment at Mchinji by the Ngwenyama with a gentle but sturdy touch, HRH Mpezeni 4; by HRH Mputa Gama; Inkosi Nyoka; Ikhanda Mazaza Jere; the incredible Impi Charles Govati Phumisa; and the rest of us impis and aNgoni crowds gathered to witness Ingwenyama pronouncing the Umthetho wa Ngoni. Bayete Ingwenyama Mpezeni 4!

As a way forward on this coronation issue, we in the research team have a question for those who might have the direct access to our Young Lion ikuduma ku Lizulu: Can you please ask the young Ngwenyama the question why during the graduation for Malawi University students, they do beat the ZEBRA skin drum? Why the graduation cap? Why the certificate is rolled? They could as well say “ mwamaliza university basi pitani, koma iyayi timalandila pepala! In Church, why do they ordain pastors, elders, priests Bishop, Popes? Why so much symbolism and detail? Why Holy Communion? Amakhala bread yemweyu but why so significant? Why say “Amen”. In the Military life, why regimental flag? Why the National flag? For Presidents, why the sword ceremony and the oath?

And WHY NOT NYONG’O FOR MASEKO INKOSI YA MAKOSI? WHY NOT KHOZA? Dzachikunja? Dzachikale? This gross negligence – no nyong’o, no khoza for Ndlovunkulu himself? Why was it forgotten? Or was it forgotten? Chingoni chake chiti? Ask him if he is really a Maseko Ngoni Ngwenyama without the Nyong’o ceremony! Or was he coroneted by TBJ in Naija? Prophet TB is competent about his religious affairs, but he cannot be an advisor of the great Maseko Royal House. You don’t find Mnyoni and chihata in Nigeria. You find nyong’o in the isibaya (khola) ya zinkomo (ng’ombe) in the Royal Compound. Isn’t it in fact ironic that the renowned prophet simply told the Young Lion and his entourage to come back home to the Royal Palace and find the so called missing crown. Mswati’s Crown has always been in the heart of Kwa Maseko! The Nyong’o ritual is not a minor issue. If it can be neglected, what else will be neglected?

All Elders close to the Young Lion, please live true to your calling. Mentor the Young Lion in the true Umthetho of the Maseko. Take courage to speak out against bad practices infiltrating in HRH Mswati’s domain. Make sure that Ngwenyama governs with his Makhosi and Izinduna. Protect the Royal House. Everyone must occupy their rightful position, and not pretend to fill jobs which are not theirs. And we hope that even the Government will not “aid and abet” bad practices that are crawling into the Maseko domain. I do not need to be appointed “Impi” with a capital “I” because by blood I am a warrior already, the Maseko having brought my great-great grandfather thousands of miles from Swaziland more than two hundred years ago! I am satisfied to be like Mgobozi Msane of Shaka who was always a private, and like him someone will have to spear me if they want to divert me from this cause! Mayihlome aNgoni!

Ngwenyama Mswati Gomani’s lack of contact with his key peers like HRH M’belwa’s household and HRH Mpezeni, and many key people in his kingdom is not helping Chingoni to grow. We are losing out akwa Maseko. Chingoni cha kwa Maseko cannot grow in isolation. Maximize the talents of your people Ngwenyama Mswati Gomani 5! May you join the group of your fellow lions and practice how to roar. And when Ngoni lions roar, we warriors respond like this: “Akusiphe Impi (give us war, Give us a cause, a purpose in life!). Bayete! Bayete (bring them, bring the enemy, we must fight them!) Bayete Ngwenyama! Bayete Inkosi ya Makosi ya Makosi Mpezeni 4! Bayete wena wakwa Jele, Umthwana wa Zwangendaba ka Hlashwayo! Bayete Inkosi ya Makosi Mswati Gomani 5! Bayete wena wakwa Maseko, Umthwana wa Mputa ka Ngwana! Bayete Uyizulu!”



(Songeya in Tanzania)

Part 1.

By Charles M. Govati


The Maseko Ngonis had lost nearly all their cattle in the Zambezi valley when coming from Zulu land due to tsetse flies, and they were anxious to renew their stock. Therefore under Mputa as there King, the Maseko Ngonis continuously raided other tribes northwards until they found themselves in the present day Tanzania and settled at Mngongomwa to the north of Hanga River a tributary of Ruhuhu River. It is recorded that Mputa and the Maseko Ngonis arrived in the present day Tanzania in the year 1850 and Mputa Ngwana Maseko established his military headquarters at Mngongomwa in Songeya district. The whipper, as Mputa was called among the people he found, raided and conquered there, he managed to permanently settle and comfortably reign over the tribes he found in the area.

 On the other side when Zongendaba died in 1848 at Ufipa, hundreds of kilometers east of Songeya the succession dispute erupted between the brothers of Zongendaba, Mgayi and Ntabeni. When Zongendaba died, his brother Mgayi Jere took control of the paramouncy but Ntabeni Zongendaba’s other brother protested on behalf of the elder son and rightful owner Mpenzeni. It is recorded that four groups emerged from the Zongendawa Paramouncy dispute. The Zongendawa Paramouncy was split into the following four groups – Mpenzeni who moved back south following their old route from south into Northern Zambia, Mbelwa who moved south into Northern Nyasaland, Ntabeni Jere who was brother to Zongendawa and regent for Mpenzeni as he was young, who moved northward but Ntabeni died soon after the trekking started as he was also old. The Ntabeni people were then led by Mtambalika Jere and later by his son Mpangalala Jere and settled in the northern Tanzania around Lake Victoria. Whilst the group which was led by Zulu Gama settled in the north east of Ufipa near Songeya. However, before Zulu Gama split from Mbelwa, Zulu Gama and his clan of warriors initially accompanied the Mbelwa’s group trek into Northern Nyasaland from Ufipa as he was in favour of Mbelwa’s succession as was decreed by Zongendawa. By this time Zulu Gama, was the most prolific and most potent Ngoni War General to have emerged from Zululand on the northward journey. He was also the most senior and influential Induna in the Zongendaba Jere Paramouncy all the way from Zululand by virtue of being a son of Njeru Gama.

When Zongendaba died 1848, Zulu Gama, as the Army General, he became very influential within the Zongendaba paramouncy and its activities. Zulu Gama, also managed mobilize a large following and popularity despite considered himself a subject of Jere Kings. Despite all the influence and support which he gathered, Zulu Gama never housed or developed any ambitions to become independent nor did he allow the royal Bayatee salute from his people. Zulu Gama only strictly allowed the Mkomo greeting from his people and reserved the Bayethe salute to the Jere Kings. 

However, When the Mbelwa Jere’s entered northern Nyasaland a conflict erupted as some of the Mbelwa loyalists accused Zulu Gama of bewitching Mbelwa’s warriors with the aim of becoming a Ngwenyama. As a result a dissent degenerated into conflict and new battle lines were drawn. Due to the ensuing quarrels and fights Zulu Gama left Mbelwa and together with his people Zulu Gama trekked towards the northern end of Lake Nyasa to become independent. Hatred engulfed Mbelwa and he followed Zulu Gama and a fierce battle erupted at Old Langenburg. During the fight Mbelwa was defeated and fled to Rungwe Mountains and later returned to western side of Lake Nyasa.

After the war Zulu Gama trekked through Usafwa and Ukinga into Upangwa. Kidulire the Upangwa Chief submitted to Zulu Gama forces without much fighting in 1856. Zulu Gama settled among the Upangwa people in 1856  and established his military center at Mtapatapa and the people of Upangwa called the Ngoni’s of Zulu Gama the Wahuhu (Because of the Zulu war cry Hau! Hau! Hau! Hau!). Zulu Gama and his warriors were settled in Upangwa six years after the arrival of Mputa in the east of the area where he was well known as Mputa Maseko and he had established the Maseko Kingdom there.


As Mngongomwa is a few kilometers from Upangwa, Mputa Maseko heard about the arrival and settlement of another Ngoni group at Upangwa. Mputa Maseko mobilized his army and went to Upangwa to meet and find out who they were, where they were coming from, where they were going and what they wanted in his territory.

As a strategy, Zulu Gama fearing the wrath of Mputa Maseko’s army, he pretended to have heard of Mputa Maseko’s fighting successes long time ago and came to join them after being disgusted by Mbelwa’s leadership. Mputa Maseko suspiciously accepted them as he wondered that it has taken Mputa’s effort to discover them and that Zulu Gama did not inform Mputa of his arrival. After all these two great Ngoni warriors knew each other very well as youngsters as their two fighting units had several brawls before they crossed the Zamabezi in 1835 which was led by the Ngoni General of Zongendaba called Njeru Gama who  was the father of Zulu Gama.

Skeptical of Zulu Gama’s acceptance of friendship Mputa Maseko insisted that Zulu Gama and his people should come and live with him at Mngongomwa the Maseko Ngoni headquarters in Songeya. The insistence of Mputa Maseko for the relocation of the  Zulu Gama people and fighting units from Upangwa to Mngongomwa was justified as it would have been too dangerous for Mputa to let such war liking people to live in a distant and far from his eyes and control.

On his part Zulu Gama also was hesitating to take up Mputa Maseko’s offer of moving out of Upangwa as Zulu Gama was also weary of Mputa’s motives and fighting tactics. Again Zulu Gama’s apprehension was based on the same history he knew very well that Maseko Ngonis and Jere Ngonis had previously quarreled and fought in the present day Zimbabwe on their way from Zululand before the crossing of Zambezi River when Zulu Gama was the Induna of Zongendaba. Despite of all this apprehension some of Zulu Gama followers went ahead and stayed with the Maseko Ngonis at Mngongomwa.


As Zulu Gama was still living in doubt and delaying his departure to live with Mputa Maseko at Mngongomwa, he fell sick and died in whilst still at Upangwa in 1858 leaving behind eight sons. Namely; Gwazerapansi as the first born, Hawaya, Mharure, Mlamira, Mbotcho, Mkuzo, Fusi and Bemisa.

Though Zulu Gama died of natural causes some elders suspected that Mputa Maseko’s had a hand in the death of their leader. After Zulu Gama’s funeral, gripped with fear his people complied with the wish of Mputa and all Zulu Gama follows moved to Mngongomwa to stay with the Maseko Ngonis.


Though the Ngonis of Zulu Gama had complied to Mputa’s wish by moving to Ngongomwa, Mputa still remained distrustful of their leaders and he considered them as a great danger. As part of Mputa’s army, the Zulu Gama warriors took part in Mputa’s raids and wars where they distinguished themselves by bravery and success which ironically increased jealousy and distrust of Mputa. Therefore Mputa secretly started eliminating Zulu Gama’s war elders and warriors by poisoning to avoid alerting an alarm.

Fearing for his life and troubled by his father’s death, Gwazerapansi the first born son of Zulu Gama and the successor of his father fled Mngongomwa in 1860 with some of his followers and followed Mbelwa in Nyasaland. Gwazerapansi Zulu Gama left behind Hawaya his next brother to lead his people under Mputa Maseko reign. Gwazerapansi’s flight increased Mputa Maseko’s suspicions as it was heard that Gwazerapansi also opposed the idea of Zulu Gama’s people living under Mputa Maseko’s control.

The new battle lines were now set because it was clear that as long as Mputa Maseko was alive, the Zulu Gama leaders will never appear as the leaders of their Gama people. As a fighting strategy they decided to continue staying on under Mputa Masekos rule whilst waiting for a chance of revenge the killing of their leader Zulu Gama as they knew that they were still in danger from Mputa unless he was killed. Though the Zulu Gama ngonis were now never in friendly terms with Mputa Maseko, they exhibited outward loyalty to the Maseko Ngonis and cooperated with Mputa Maseko in his raiding activities. Still they never gave up the hope of getting an opportunity to get rid of the Maseko Ngoni king and make themselves independent from the Mputa Maseko’s rule whom they saw as tyrant.

As was Mputa’s tradition of planning routine raids, he one day with his army set out from Mngongomwa to raid the neighboring Wamanda tribe who possessed plenty of cattle and inhabiting the lower valleys of Ruhuhu river.  As Mputa Maseko and his army descended into the Wamanda territory, some Zulu Gama Ngoni warriors stayed behind and built a camp while Mputa proceeded to attack the Wamandas whose leader was Kikumbu. Mputa Maseko and his army were utterly defeated in the fight and Mputa Maseko was left behind by his defeated troops. Tired, thirsty and hungry with only a few followers Mputa Maseko reached the camp trap set by the Wahuhu Zulu Gama Ngoni warriors. Mputa Maseko was welcomed into the Wahuhu camp in order to rest, regroup, prepare and then renew the attack with their assistance. In so doing Mputa Maseko, once called Mputa by Yao’s or “the whipper and aggressor” by his opponents delivered himself up into the hands of his Ngoni enemies the Wahuhu Zulu Gama warriors for his death.


As Mputa Maseko was resting in the camp unsuspicious of any danger, the Wahuhu warriors – the Zulu Gama warriors were called in and they took this opportunity to kill the Maseko Ngoni King in 1863. In order to prevent suspicion of murder from the Maseko Ngoni the Wahuhu warriors they avoided and ensured that there was no appearance of any stub wounds on the body of King Mputa Maseko. They knew very well that wounds on the Kings body would invite reprisals from the Maseko Ngonis, the Wahuhu warriors decided not to use spears in their operation, so they carefully suffocated him to death and quickly killed all those Maseko warriors who were with him to remove evidence.

After the operation to kill Mputa Maseko was over and clearing of all the traces of evidence, the Wahuhu warriors wrapped up Mputa’s body in a cowering Ngoni position in a cow skin as it was the Ngoni custom of preparing King’s body for funeral ceremony. Then quickly they sent a message to Mngongomwa headquarters that king Mputa Maseko has died in the dust during the unsuccessful raids so they are coming with the body. The Wahuhu warriors carried the body to the Maseko Ngoni’s in Mngongomwa.The Wahuhu warriors together with the Maseko Ngonis mourned the death King Mputa Maseko to avoid betraying themselves.

Without suspecting any foul play in the death of Mputa Maseko, the Maseko Ngonis performed the traditional cremation ritual of Mputa Maseko’s body and threw his ashes into the Luhimbilito River as was the burial custom of the Maseko Kings.

After a smooth and orderly transition of power, The Maseko Ngonis did not leave Mngongomwa immediately after Mputa’s death as was expectation of the Zulu Gama Wahuhu warriors and their followers. It was clear to the Zulu Gama followers that the Maseko’s never had any plans to leave Songeya with the death of Mputa as the reason. Instead they dug deep to stay and continued with their life in this land of the Matengo’s and continued dominion over the Wahuhu Zulu Gama subjects. Meanwhile Chidyaonga Ngwana Maseko, Mputa Maseko’s brother with the assistance of Senior Induna Malundu assumed the leadership of the Maseko tribe whilst Chidyaonga Ngwana Maseko took control and care of the crown Prince Chikuse who was very young.

The continuance of domination and control by the Maseko Ngoni’s over the wahuhu Ngonis of Zulu Gama is did not go well with the Ngonis of Zulu Gama who thought that they would now be free after killing the Maseko Ngoni leader Mputa Maseko. So the Ngonis of Zulu Gama continued pursuing their secretive struggle of independence by carefully making alliances with other tribes to make life of the Maseko Ngonis uncomfortable and unstable. The Zulu Gama Ngonis sought alliances with other Matengo tribes as they were less than the Maseko Ngonis in numbers and they could not single handedly defeat the Masekos forces which were lead by the powerful Army General Njokozera with the assistance of Maseko war witchman Mgaseni! On the Wahuhu side too they had their own powerful Karanga diviner/sangoma called Songea Luwafu Mbano who they took as a slave from Zimbabwe. This sangoma and diviner was behind the success and power of Zongendaba and later the Zulu Gama forces. The town of Songea is actually named after this Karanga diviner.


It is reported that one day when the Maseko Ngonis were offering a sacrifice to the sleeping Ngwenyama Mputa, as it was their custom to offer those sacrifices to a sleeping Ngwenyama once a year, the Zulu Gama Ngonis with assistance other tribes attacked the Maseko Ngonis by surprise. The Maseko Ngonis suffered heavy casualties and fled. The Maseko Ngoni war General Ngolozera feared for the life of the 3 year old Crown Prince Chikuse and they decided to flee from furious and ruthless Zulu Gama fighters who were literally chasing them away to consolidate their grip on Songeya after the death of the feared Mputa Maseko. Chidyaonga the brother of Mputa Maseko led the left over Maseko Ngonis and fled in 1864. The Maseko Ngoni exodus was triggered by an ambush by Zulu Gama warriors whilst the Maseko Ngonis were cerebrating the first year ritual mourning ceremony for their sleeping Ngwenyama Mputa Maseko. The Masekos Ngonis dispersed and fled towards the south of Songeya and cross through lake Chiuta and back into Nyasaland via Mangochi into Balaka, where the captured loyal Gwangwara’s people who were in the Ngolozera’s Mvimbo war regiment were left behind as a frontline shield to protect the Maseko Ngonis who proceeded to setttle at Domwe Hill in Mozambique 7 kilometers from Lobi rural growth centre in Dedza to hide the young Crown Prince Chikuse from danger of the new fierce Zulu Gama enemy.  In the confusion which followed the death of Mputa and following chaotic and non relenting Ngoni battles one of Mputa Maseko’s  induna called Malundu  fled with some Maseko Ngonis and a several wives and children of Mputa Maseko to an area north of Motogolo Mountains and settled in the west of Songeya. Today there exists the Maseko Royal Clan one of who is a prominent catholic father called Fr. Maseko. 

It was due to the chaos which followed the killing of Mputa by the Zulu Gama forces which led to the emerging of the term Chipasupasu cha Angoni pa Matengo! This simply translates to mean the pandemonium of the Maseko Ngonis in Matengoland. Currently there are many Maseko Ngonis at Namabengo, Maposeni, Mgazini, Mbamba bay and Mbunga districts in the Songeya area just to name a few. Some Maseko Ngonis are found as far as Tanga region along Lumecha River. They are said to be silently led by a Royal Maseko family originating from one of Mputa Maseko’s royal families which fled with his senior induna Malundu. As we are all aware all traditional chieftaincies in Tanzania were abolished in 1962 by President Julius Nyerere. The last Wanjeru Ngoni King was Ngwenyana Xavier Usangira Gama who reigned from 1949 to 1962 and he died on 30th May 1999. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

The Succession in the Njeru Gama Paramouncy

  1. Zulu Gama had eight sons and these were Gwazerapansi, Hawaya, Mhalure, Mbemisa Mlamira, Mbocho, Fusi and Mkuzo.
  2. After Zulu Gama’s death in 1858 at Upangwa, Gwazerapansi the first born son and heir to the throne fled to Malawi for fear of his life. He settled in Mzimba and died and buried at Dunduzu. He was succeded by his second born son Hawaya.  Mputa Maseko was killed during Hawaya’s reign.
  3. Hawaya died in 1874 and was succeeded by his brother Mhalure.
  4. It was Mhalure who advised his Njeru Ngoni people that after his death the Paramouncy should return to its rightful owner Mputa Gama the son of Gwazerapansi.
  5. When Mhalure died in September 1889 Mlamira, the son of Zulu Gama acted as a regent for few years waiting for Mputa Gama to return from Malawi.
  6. When Mputa Gama came back he reigned and was killed by Germans colonialists on 27th February in 1906 with all his Indunas for their involvement in the Majimaji rebellion which erupted after the German missionaries burnt down the Mahoka Shrine hut at Maposeni which was a sacred shrine of the Njeru Ngonis as the White Catholic Fathers considered it as aiding in idolatry worship. This irritated King Mputa Gama and aroused his revenge. In retaliation the Ngoni warriors burnt to the ground the Peramiho mission and killed Fr. Francis Leuthner who was incharge of Peramiho mission and had ordered the burning of the Ngoni shrine.
  7. After Mputa Gama’s execution, the Germans abolished the chiefs for fear of future reprisals.
  8. Then on 19th September 1916, the British troops invaded Tanganyika upon the defeat of the Germans during the second world war
  9. The British saw the need of chiefs especially to assist them in collection of tax and recruitment of young men as soldiers; however the British colonialists were mindful of not giving back full power and authority to chiefs for fear of another rebellion. Therefore they developed a chief’s act to regulate the chiefs and they reduced the status of chiefs to mere messengers and gave the chiefs the title of Sultan with duties befitting a messenger. In addition they avoided the rightful royal family of Gwazerapansi and appointed Usangira on 2nd January 1926 the son of Muhalure to be the Sultan of Ngonis
  10. Upon the death of Usangira on 21st January 1941, the British appointed his young brother Kholofindo to be the next Sultan.
  11. When Kholofindo died on 12th August 1949, Xavier the son of Usangira was made the next Sultan.
  12. During Xavier’s reign Tanzania became independent and subsequently in 1962 the first President of Tanzania Mwalimu Julias Nyerere abolished all the chiefs and appointed Jumbes with a sole duty of collecting tax on behalf of Government.
  13. Xavier died in 1998 as a Jumbe and the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi government appointed Emmanuel his son to continue with the Jumbe duties.
  14. Up to now there are no chiefs in Tanzania though royal households carefully preserve their royal blood line with hopes that one day they will become real chiefs and cease to be Jumbes

The Dedicated & Passionate Maseko Ngoni Lady We Knew as Mrs Veronica Elsie Chapinda


By  Charles Govati

Remasekongoni Club came to know Anaphiri, Mrs Veronica Elsie Chapinda during the Lilongwe Maseko Ngoni Election General Assembly meeting at Lilongwe community centre in 2009. As a senior member of the Kawale Maseko Ngoni Branch, she was very active in organizing the first General Assembly and was in charge of the decorations of hall. We later met her again during the Bvumbwe fund raising event at Lingadzi Inn where she was person responsible for brewing the traditional opaque beer – popularly known as chikokeyani – which was sold during the event as one of the fund raising activities.

Mrs Veronica Elsie Naphiri Chapinda

After noticing her unique enthusiasm with Ngoni culture and traditions the organizers of Remasekongoni club started inviting her to attend Remasekongoni moderation meetings at Lilongwe Hotel. She was so dedicated to attending Remasekongoni meetings that she never missed one single meeting including all emergency meetings and functions until she passed away. Her dedication to revival and preservation of Ngoni culture and tradition earned her the position of an executive member of the Remasekongoni Club. Her status as the only active female member of the Remasekongoni movement took her to Zambia’s HRH Mpenzeni 4 and Mozambique’s HRH Zintambira 4 on several negotiation, learning and consultative missions with the Remasekongoni core team.

In 2012, Mrs  Elsie Chapinda was appointed into the Mpenzeni Ncwala 2012 main organizing committee, a task she undertook with dedication which lead to her being appointed to oversee all the guest’s catering operations for the Mpezeni 4’s Royal Household   during the Ncwala 2012 ceremony.

In 2011-2012, her last year on earth, she has assisted a lot in supporting the works of reviving the Ngoni culture, not only in Malawi but also across the borders. As most of us are aware, the years 2012 saw the Remasekongoni club’s involvement in organizing and participating in several high profile Ngoni ceremonies in which Mrs Chapinda was a leading organizers on behalf of Remasekongoni. These ceremonies and activities included:-

  1. The preparations and attendance of the 30 years anniversary celebration of HRH Mpezeni 4 reign at Emphendukeni Palace, Chipata Zambia on 23rd June 2012.
  2. The Thanks giving ceremony at South African High Commission.
  3. The Mandela day (Freedom Day) Cerebrations and South African High Commissioner’s Office
  4. The preparations and organization for the elevation of Senior Inkosi Kwataine at her village/GVH level.
  5. Representing Remasekongoni at the 2012 Mua Open Day on 4th August 2012 a day before the coronation of Mswati Gomani 5.
  6. The lobbying, preparations and participation in the coronation of Mswati Gomani 5. In fact, she the envoy who delivered the coronation petition to the State President and was instrumental in advising the State President in charting the way forward for the coronation and mitigating some of the post coronation issues which emerged after the coronation and continue to manifest in different formats.  

Some of the special traits or attribute which Anaphiri Chapinda possessed were Honesty and Openness. She was also a strong hater of backbiting. This is the quality which distinguished her from other women and earned her the role of counselor among the women in her Kawale society. She was also a good mobiliser and organizer of people a skill which was utilized by the Lilongwe Maseko Ngoni Chapter. The Maseko Ngoni Lilongwe chapter will remember her as one of the pioneering people for the establishment of Maseko Ngoni Association though its executive did not attend at her funeral ceremony.

Similarly, recognizing her special traits, the People Progressive Movement Party (PPM) appointed Mrs Chapinda as the Central Province Chairlady. The Party’s Secretary General Mr Wellington Chatepa Phiri acknowledged that she was indeed one of their most active and dedicated member of the party. He said, the PPM party utilised her organizational and mobilisation skills in establishment and running Ngoni and PPM party structures both in Lilongwe and Ntcheu Districts.

Mrs Chapinda was also a dedicated and practicing religious person and a Member of the Zambezi Evengilical Church.   During all the time of her life, Mrs. Veronica Elsie Chapinda dedicated her life in serving God under Zambezi Evangelical Church and was a strong member of women’s guild.  The Church elders, who presided over the conveyance of the body of late Mrs Chapinda in Kawale, delivered a sermon which confirmed that “Yes” she was a role model Ngoni woman of principle and dignity! 

We noticed that Mrs Chapinda was indeed a true and living Ngoni when Remasekongoni took up the challenge of ensuring Cultural and Traditional Order in the management in the Maseko Kingdom. We immediately noticed that Mrs Elsie Chapinda was woman with special determination and passion. As a Ngoni Patriot she always ready for action! She took up the challenge of talking with The State President Madam Joyce Banda for coronation to be realized. The State President Madam Joyce Banda was constantly in touch with Remasekongoni through her both before and after coronation. As for the Remasekongoni movement, she was a pillar of strength and vision! She was part of the executive team which engaged with the various stakeholder’s especially traditional leaders, Ngoni elders and Senior Government officials.  She was one the people who was very bluntly honest in delivering her opinion on subjects surrounding the various issues which were threatening to derail the coronation of  we have ever met. Her unshakable stand on matters of principle and traditional/cultural order made her unpopular with the Executive members of the Lilongwe Maseko Ngoni Chapter. Un happy with her level of honesty and stance for the truth, the Lilongwe Maseko Ngoni executive sidelined her in their activities culminating in their not attending her funeral ceremony both in Lilongwe and Ntcheu.

Mrs. Chapinda was born as Veronica Elsie Balaleya in 1961 at Thyolo District Hospital where her father was working at Comforzi Tea Estate. She was the only daughter and a second born child in the family of six children. Her brothers were Fanuel who was born in 1959 and is currently working at Salima ADD, Gray who was born in 1963 and is currently working with the Ministry of Lands in Lilongwe, Brighton who was born in 1965 and died in September of 2006, Frank who was born in 1967 and died in August 2007and the last born is Elosi who was born in 1969 and is currently working in South Africa.

The Balaleya family are bonafide citizens of Hauya Village in the area of GVH Kamiza on the western side of Dzunje hill in the area of Senior Inkosi Kwataine. Veronica Elsie Balaleya married James Chapinda of Bunyenga Village of Senior Inkosi Makwangwla in a traditional Ngoni wedding which was held in Hauya village in the year 1980.

In her home, Hauya village, people remember Mrs. Veronica Elsie Chapinda as a woman who had always the interest of her village at heart. She was a very important symbol of Development in Cultural, Religious, and political affairs. She would always come and camp at her home village to participate in development and social activities.

Mrs. Veronica Elsie Chapinda volunteered a lot of her time  during the struggle for the coronation of Inkosi Ya Makosi Gomani V. She was also very active and instrumental during the preparations of elevating senior Inkosi Kwataine. Mrs. Veronica Elsie Chapinda died at around 10:00 pm on 18th November 2012 at Kamuzu Central Hospital after suffering from heart attack, which she suffered on 7th November 2012. She spent 5 days on oxygen support before being discharged on 14th November 2012 pending for heart surgery which was scheduled for 21st November the day she was buried as the heart specialist was outside the country.

Attending the funeral ceremony was Impi Mark Katsonga Phiri president of the PPM party, Impi Pastor Kamuyambeni of the Zambezi Evangelical Missions among many other Ngonis. Remasekongoni was represented by Mr Collins Chibondo, head of the Remasekongoni research team. From Lilongwe came a 10 tonne truck load of friends and neighbors’ from Kawale.

Mrs. Veronica Elsie Chapinda is survived by a husband who works in South Africa, six children, namely Saukani born in 1981, Wesley born in 1984, Emily born in 1986, Justice born in 1989 and twins Thokozile and Thokozani born in 1996, and is also survived by three grandchildren, namely Yankho born on 11th December 2008, Francis born on 31st January 2012 and Rejoice who was born on 10th June 2012

We of Remasekongoni mourn the passing of this great Maseko Ngoni lady whom we called Anaphi – Mrs Veronica Elsie Chapinda with great grief!

May her soul rest in peace

 Follow the facebook link below to view the Remasekongoni  photo album posted in her memory.

Ngoni Ivory Bracelets, Head Gear & Coronations

Briefing on Ngoni Ivory Bracelets, Head Gear & Coronations

By Charles M. Govati.

The Gomani Paramouncy Power Brookers


The Mthini Head Gear Symbol of Authority for Chiefs and Ngoni Pride. Please feel free to forward your comments on the forum so that we perfect the ideas. This article is examining The Ngoni Clans, Presence of Cattle, Mthini, The Ivory Bracelet, The Animal Skins  and Clan (Totem) mfundaamong the Ngonis

The Homestead & Clan

Ngoni Social life is built around the Homestead which is formed by The Father, his wife and children. The father is the Head of the Homestead, while the wife and daughters are the productive workers of the homestead. The sons grow up with male responsibilities and  later on grow to form their own homesteads.  Daughters do not create homesteads or villages. The total unit of homesteads is called a clan, that is a social unit made up of men and women who believe that they have descended from a common Male ancestor. It is through the MALE line which forms one CLAN with the oldest Male Father being Head of the Clan or (Wamkulu wa banja). The Head of the family or wamkulu wa banja is never appointed for convenience. Someone can become head of the clan if and only if there is medical kind of case that does not enable the eldest male parent to function with sanity. Several clans form a Village.

Several grouped clans form a Group Village Headmen who in turn form a Chiefdom which is headed by an Inkosi. The Chiefdom is the major Ngoni political unit which is headed by the clan which was politically dominant. The wars of the late eighteen and early nineteenth century were struggles between large chiefdoms like the Ngwane (Dhlamini & Maseko) The Ndwandwe and the Mthethwa whose leaders were attempting  to increase their power by forcible acquisition of land and cattle and their incorporation of different peoples into their chiefdoms. Out of this violence, the Zulu Chiefdom under Shaka emerged victorious. (Today we are witnessing the opposite, villages are disbanding to form new smaller villages because of Starter pack and Coupons, Chiefs accept these villages because they want to receive 4 goats and some 4-6 thousand kwacha. The Inkoses themselves wanting to become Senior Chiefs and Group Village Heads wanting to become Sub Inkosi when they have not  physically conquered any new land or chiefdom just because they want to receive more money from the government as salary (called Nswahala in chichewa). This is what Inkosi ya Makosi Kanjedza Gomani 4 was totally against because it was against Ngoni culture and traditions and dis-intergating the Maseko Ngoni Kingdom)

In Ngoni Culture and Tradition there is no Inkosi who is more senior than the others. All Inkoses are at the same rank like everyone else. However, Ziyembe is the leader of all the Inkosis due to his role as commander in Chief of the Ngoni Armed forces. In our case, Inkosi Njolomole is the Leader of all Maseko Ngoni Inkoses.  Of-course, now, due to politics, we now see some Inkoses being graded Senior. But in Ngoni culture and hierarchy, the chief who has been made senior, He is senior to who? Probably the political machinery wants to reward other chiefs more than others in process of ruling. (Kaya probably you will enlighten us in your comments). But acceptance of such titles is also one of the major causes of the declining culture & Traditions because we sometime see chiefs begging from politicians to be Senior chief or Group Village Head, or even to become a Sub T/A (Imagine to have a sub Inkosi? Does it make sense in Ngonism? But we seem to accept this somehow due to what is commonly known as Madyela or (Financial and material benefits from the government)

Marriage. Daughters do not stay in their Clan Village.

Marriage within the same clan is strictly prohibited and wives are supposed to be drawn from other clans to foster unity among the clans. The transactions are marked by movement of cattle, Cattle are given to a wife’s father on marriage or in other words, cattle were received by a daughter’s father when she left his homestead to marry. The Chief’s son inherits bulk if not all the property of his father most of it in cattle. He uses most of this cattle to obtain more wives for himself and his brothers.

Thus there is a concentration of wealth within the Chiefly lineage and the members of the chiefly house could trace their dominant position back to the original clan-founder. The material basis of the status of the chief was the large number of cattle he possessed which he could exchange for more wives and transform into more lineages. That is more productive workers (wives) to support the homestead. Therefore it is strange to find the daughters of clan staying in the homestead house or village of their father. They are supposed to be staying where they got married as lobola was paid for them at their home changed. This is more so for the Kings or Chiefs daughters, they are supposed to live at their husbands home otherwise daughters of a clan normally bring instability within the clan as wives of the chiefs sons do not live in peace and families brake up. This normally happens when the father of the daughters is very weak as he is supposed to chase them away to their husbands village. After all they bring strange names in the clan and these names distort the clans identity!

The Ngoni Royal Family.  

Similarly, the Royal family is a clan made of persons born out of one common ancestral reigning King.  Anybody identifiable as having descended from one common ancestor  in the royal family is of royal blood. It does not matter how many they are, as long as they are alive, all form the royal family. Therefore nobody can choose at random to born in or out of the royal family. All those born from the royal family are identifiable by their Totem or Mfunda. In the case of Maseko Ngoni’s the totem is Maseko, Mgwagwa, Khoni. However, not anybody born in the royal family can become a King. It is only the Males with the Royal Clan totem who are the eligible candidates and not the females. In fact Ngoni law stipulates that a King can not marry someone with the Royal Clans totem (mfunda). This is to avoid in breeding and confusion in the chieftaincy mainly when Kings start marrying cousins. The Situation becomes like everyone can be king. 

Succession – The Male Blood line – Through the regning Chiefs finger.

The individual who becomes the next King is the person who is appointed by the “POINTING FINGER” of the reigning King or Chief. What happens is that when time of succession comes the person who was chosen to become the new King or Chief by the finger of the reigning Chief is escorted in a procession from the Royal kraal (Khola la Ng’ombe)  to the podium led by the another reigning Ngoni King of a Ngwenyama rank (and in case of an Inkosi or Lesser Chief)  an Inkosi, His Nduna and impis council. Upon reaching the Podium, He appointed person sits down humbly. The Reigning Ngwenyama takes the Lion or leopard skin worn by his father and dresses him up or wraps the skin around his body. Then he takes liquid from the gall bladder of a ritually slaughtered bull mixed with blood and is poured on the head of the new Chief and proclaimed Ngwenyama/Chief/Inkosi and a NTHINI made of the right animal skin is placed on his head by either reigning Ngwenyama/ King or appointed Chief. This process is followed by placing the NYONGO on his forehead, and the BAYETE Ritual is performed.  The end of the Bayete salute means that the king has been proclaimed, acknowledged and installed.

Nyongo – Which is the gall bladder – is taken from the animal slaughtered for the coronation or death of a Chief, a bull in the case of a Ngwenyama  or a goat in the case of any lesser chief. Nyongo is used in the ritual of coronation or death together with the official Mthini. Therefore no one can put a Mthini or Nyongo on himself because you can not crown yourself to become a Chief or a regent. It has to be done by another reigning Ngwenyama or Chief or Ziyembe who ever is senior and available at the time. The Government only brings the gown as a symbol of unity with our political masters in modern times. The Governmental Officers can explain this to us better than me.

This process is also followed for a regent except that all the Chiefs or Inkosi do lay their hands on the head of the chosen regent. The regent does not go through the Nyongo process, as such,  a regent can and does not coronate chiefs of any rank. The duty of a regent is to continue implementing the plans of the sleeping Chief whilst waiting for the owner of the Chieftaincy to take over.  In other words a Regent does not have a Manifesto to implement! The regent is also not of the same clan or blood as the Ngwenyama or ruling clan, to avoid clinging to power when time to relinquish power comes. Secondly, regent is chosen by the council of Chiefs and impis (Where impis represent the war Generals. This is the separation of power in the Ngoni political structure. The Ruling clan is responsible for choosing the heir to the throne under the leadership of the reigning Ngwenyama and Ndhlovukazi with the participation of  the royal family at large. The regent is chosen by  a secret caucus of the Inkosis  and Senior Ndunas of the Ngwenyama. No member of the royal family clan participates in the Chiefs caucus. When they have chosen the person to become the a regent, the name is taken to the Army Generals (The Impis)  by Ziyembe for their approval. Thereafter when the name is accepted they announce to all the Ngonis gathered in a public setting normally at the Court Ground of the Chief. If the Selected chief is young, the Inkoses or Chiefs have the responsibility of upbringing the new chosen king and also providing his security. They Chiefs have this responsibility because a Ngoni chief can not be raised by His Aunties or Sisters. In Ngoni Culture, all boys spend their time in the field with their peers until he becomes a Njaha!  A Ngwenyama or Chief who is not properly raised up is rejected by the Inkoses and Impi as was the case with Mandala in favour of  Chathamtunda  Gomani 1. (Just as a reminder – Chikuse had Mandala (as the eldest,) Gomani 1, Kabango, Zintambila, Bvumbwe as his sons)

When we backtrack a bit into history we find that – It was for the security of Mswati II of Swaziland in the Dhlamin clan in 1840, which lead to the dispersing of the elder brothers of Msawti II which included our famous Ngwana. In the case of Dinizulu of the Zulu Clan  in 1884, under the Shaka Zulu Line of the Ngonis’ he was taken to Transvaal for protection because he was also very young and had to be protected by being removed from his relatives who are normally the main threat to the life the a young king.

The Ivory Bracelet and Transfer of Power. Who Gives Power? It is a Reigning Chief.

At the death of a King, before the burial ceremony to take place is the transfer of power from the sleeping King to his Heir is done immediately by removing the Ivory Bracelet from the Sleeping King and giving it the heir to wear it immediately before the Nyongo is placed on the Sleeping King . Thereafter, if there is need for regency, this is and must be decided before the burial of the sleeping King or indeed chief. Ngoni’s do not bury a chief without identifying who will hold power whilst the King is in his deep sleep. This Ivory Bracelet, Flying Whisk, the Leopard & Lion Skin for Ngwenyama and the generational spear are symbols of the Kings Authority and cannot be worn by anyone other than the King or His Heir to the Throne. Wearing a Lion Skin and an Ivory Bracelet of the sleeping King is a treasonable offence mainly if it is done by a member of the royal house. And indeed any subject of the Ngoni Kingdom. In our case, HRH Kanjedza Gomani 4 never wore the bracelet of his father, nor have we ever witnessed The Crown Prince Mswati Gomani being given the Ivory Bracelet to wear.  

As I had indicate earlier, All these processes are done in public, There is nothing that is done and discussed in private concerning sleeping or dead Ngoni Chiefs for transparency and accountability. These rituals are spiritual traditional ceremonies for connecting with the ancestors spirits. These ceremonies are presided over by The Most Senior Commander of the Ngoni Armed forces who is called Ziyembe. In case of the Maseko Ngoni’s, Inkosi Njolomole is the current Ziyembe since the time of Mputa as they left Swaziland around 1840. Ziyembe is the protector and overseer of the Royal family and handles all the issues concerning the Royal family. No one has authority of the Royal Household apart from Ziyembe. And it is Ziyembe who leads the coronation and burial of Ngwenyama and even deciding when and where to lay the sleeping Ngwenyama. This work is not headed by a Nduna or any other Chief, or a woman and not even the Ndhlobvukazi who is considered the most powerful person in Ngoni political structure.

Ruling as Chief or as Regent by skipping the above processes is illegal and is tantamount to a coup. As far as Ngoni traditions are concerned, NOBODY can do the above process alone, in other words CORONATE yourself, that is stealing Chieftaincy. Even where there is no King or Chief to conduct the coronation ceremony another Chief must be found from somewhere within other Ngoni Chiefdoms who can be invested with the coronation powers for only the coronation time.

The Nthini & Chiefly Regalia

The difference between Nthini worn by Ngoni subjects and the Nthini worn by Chiefs is that the Nthini worn by Chiefs is placed on their heads by the Chief that crowns or officiated coronation ceremony. And the King or Chief who crowns the other chief has to bring a Nthini with him to perform the crowning ceremony. It is this Nthini that the chief or King uses as his official Nthini. The Nthini that the Ngoni subjects wear are not ceremonial but  are  worn as pride and identity of Ngonism and everyone puts his Nthini on his head alone. A Nthini that is placed on a Ngoni subject’s head by a King or Chief is also special because with it comes some special recognition or authority attached to it. Therefore we can see that just putting on Nthini oneself does not make someone a King, a Chief or a Regent.

By placing a Nthini on your head by yourself is meaningless. It just shows that you are just like any other ordinary Ngoni since Nthini is a NGONI head gear. What differentiate one Nthini from the other is the process of who put it on your head to start wearing it. If it was possible that every Chief could just put a Nthini on his head himself, then everybody could have been Chiefs just by wearing Mthini. There could have been no reason for one to wait for 2-4 to be coronated as a chief if those chief could just take a nthini onto their heads. It has to be pointed out that chiefs are supposed to wear the official Mthini at cultural functions rather than wearing a Mthini bought on the street just because it is looking fine. In addition chiefs or Impis are given a Mthini onto their Heads in recognition for something not paper certificates. Ngoni Chiefs, Ndunas, Impis and Regents will also respect their Official Mthini.

Mfunda or Totem.

Lastly is the Clan totem or Mfunda. The totem of a clan is inherited at birth from the father and not the mother. Therefore no one who is born of Ngoni Culture and tradition can change his or her totem. The totem is a specially designed method of identifying ones clan as Ngonis are patrilineal. The totem of the Royal household is protected and cannot be changed. Even the children of the daughters of the King cannot change their totem to the Royal Totem. However the King has the privilege of branding totems on his subjects mainly those that are or have been assimilated into the Ngoni tribe. The Royal totem is used to bring new blood in the Royal Clan.

Ngoni Regents


Ngoni Regency.
By Charles M. Govati

Who is a Regent?

A regent is an ‘authorized’ person who has been mandated to just uphold the situation in place of a King who is incapacitated or too young to execute duties. Therefore a regent is not a King. A regent cannot ACT on behalf of a Ngwenyama. Similarly, you cannot have an acting husband as you cannot have an acting Inkosi Ya Makosi. Regent operates jointly with the council of Inkosis and Elders or Alumuzanas to maintain the current status quo in the Kingdom which is normally considered to last short period. In Maseko Ngoni culture a regent has no powers of transacting any changes or installations or issuing of Royal decrees concerning the Kingdom unless through the council of Inkoses, Elders or Alumuzanas and Impis and in rare cases using a Ngoni King of another Ngoni Kingdom.

The Regents?

Ngoni culture demands that a King rules collectively with Njobvukazi (king’s mother-commonly referred as Great Queen mother). Traditionally this is what qualifies the Njobvukazi to be a rightful and legitimate regent when the King dies. If it happens that there is no Njobvukazi, the Inkosikati (kings wife-commonly referred as the Queen and mother of the nation) assumes the post of regent and executes the duties of a regent. Inkosikati was also involved in the sense that, when the king dies the Inkosikati who is the mother of the young king automatically becomes Njobvukazi, when his son, gives birth to the next heir to throne. Both the Njobvukazi and Inkosikati are responsible for the upbringing and security of the young heir to the throne.

Ngoni tradition recommends Njobvukazi and Inkosikati are rightful regents because they do not carry Royal blood and do not belong to the Maseko Clan. Tradition has shown that Njobvukazi and Inkosikati possess no interest of clinging to power when time to hand over power comes to bear on them. Therefore, the Njobvukazi and the Inkosikati are best candidates for regency in Ngoni culture as far as the security of the young heir to the throne is concerned. This is also true with the Zulu, Khumalo (Ndebele), Jere & Dhlamini (Swazi) Paramouncies.

However Ngoni tradition can accommodate a male to be a regent but only if he is not from the royal household and is not from the Maseko clan. This arrangement is in line with the security of the coming king. Traditional history has proved that a regent with royal blood is difficult to deal with especially if it is a brother or sister because their wish most cases is to live and rule like a King. Regents bearing the Royal blood and the Kings Clan name are a threat to the heir of the throne. Once a regent of royal blood is chosen, it is difficult for him/her to relinquish power therefore putting the life of the young heir at risk.

Why a Regent?
From the above it is clear that a regent is only a circumstantial person. A regent is only required when the crown Prince is young or he is not immediately available to assume the King’s duties within 33-40 days or date of the new moon after the burial of the sleeping of the King. However, the Crown Prince is supposed to be present or preside over all the events of the Kingdom. The crown Prince is also supposed to meet his subjects frequently so that they are kept aware that the Ngwenyama is present.

The duties of a regent are basically three:-.
1. To look after the family of the sleeping Inkosi Ya Makosi. This includes all the wives and all the children of the sleeping King.
2. To deliver a new well groomed King to the Maseko Ngonis.
3. To preside over the meetings of Indunas, Impis and clan elders to represent the interest of the incapacitated King and or the young King.

A regent does not have any powers to exercise on behalf of the King. Therefore all matters which require the invoking the powers of the King or the powers of the ancestors are suspended until the King is able to perform them himself. Therefore the title ACTING Inkosi Ya Makosi does not exist within the context of Ngoni power transitional process. The DC for Ntcheu is the first creator of this Acting Inkosi Ya Makosi post among the Maseko Ngonis in an effort to try and legitimize Mrs Malinki as an Inkosi Ya Makosi for political purposes.

Under normal circumstances, the mother of the reigning King, the previous Inkosikati, traditionally called “The Indhlovukazi” who is incidentally the grandmother of the next King is the traditional automatic regent of the next King. The second in the line as a regent is the reigning Inkosikati, the Queen of the Kingdom and wife of the late King. In the absence of these two matriarchs, the duty of selecting the regent falls on the council of Alumuzana and Impis.

The Alumuzanas and Impis are also responsible for appointing regents using the same process of electing the paramount chief. The only difference is that no member of the Ngoni Royal Family is eligible to hold the regency. The person who is eligible to be a regent is any of the senior Alumuzana’s and Impis who is not from the Maseko clan and also not a member of the inner Royal household. In simple terms a Royal blood totemed person cannot be regent.

In the case of the Maseko Ngoni Paramouncy, Inkosi Njolomole, as Ziyembe, is the protector and head of the Gomani Maseko Royal Household and the Senior Mlumuzana of the King. As a senior Mlumuzana and head of the Gomani household, he automatically becomes regent until the new King take over the seat of power. His main duty is to ensure that all the affairs of the Kingdom are proceeding smoothly. He also has the traditional duty of ensuring that he delivers a good King to the maseko Ngonis. He also has the responsibility of taking care of the Kings family until such time the new Kings takes over rule over the household.

As for the regency, the other major and significant difference is that there is no salutation of Bayete Nkosi upon the announcement of the regent name and no Ligubo dance is performed in the presence of a regent. A regent in all the various formats alluded to above do not have the powers to install new Inkoses because the regent does not stand on the shoulders of the anscestors..

For example, Indlovukazi naMlangeni became a regent for Phillip Gomani after the assassination of her grandson Gomani Chikuse I in 1896.It also believed that The Chief Induna/Mlumuzana of Phillip Gomani II also acted as a regent for Philip Gomani II as he was still young and at school in Blantyre and Thyolo. Another example of illegible regency was that of Chidyaonga, a younger brother of Mputa, was appointed during the minority of Chikuse, Philip Gomani’s grandfather. He assumed the regency while the Maseko Ngonis were in Matengoland in Songeya – present day, south of Tanzania. Later on, in Domwe, after their return from Songeya, the Chidyaonga’s regency resulted in a breakaway and separate chieftaincy of Kachindamoto in Mtakataka due to Chieftaincy succession disputes of Chikuse and Chifisi in 1891 and the Chieftaincy dispute of Gomani son of Chikuse and Dzinthenga son of Chifisi – popularly known as Kachindamoto I.

Contrary to the above process, the Royal family did not meet to come up with the name of a traditionally acceptable candidate(s) for the regency. Neither did the Alumuzana’s, Amakhosi, or Impis were called to discuss the appointment of Mrs. Malinki to be the elected regent.

As there was no process or forum that appointed her as a regent, she only took advantage of the grieving scenario and assumed the controlling role at the funeral of his brother Inkosi Ya Makosi Kanjedza Gomani IV. People were just surprised to hear Senior Prince Titus Gomani announcing the name of Mrs. Malinki as the Regent.

Consequently Mrs. Malinki deliberately avoided the caucus of Inkoses, Impis and other members of the Royal family in discussing the issue of the regency and opted to connive with Inkosi Phambala, Inkosi Champiti, Inkosi Masasa and other residents of Mzamani village, notably a Mr Black India and her sister Ettie to declare her as Regent.

Later on Mrs. Rosemary Malinki and Inkosi Phambala authored a letter alleging that the Inkoses and Royal Family members elected Mrs. Malinki to be a regent, which turned out to be a total lie since the said Royal Family meeting did not take place to elect her nor did the Inkoses met to endorse her name. With the engineering works of the DC for Ntcheu Mr Macleod Kadammanja, ensuring that the regent is Mrs Malinki, He coined up the Term – Acting Inkosi Ya Makosi Gomani!

Charles M. Govati
P. O. Box 506

Cell +265 995 610 288

If you do not stand for anything, you will always fall for anything.

Ngwenyama, Inkosi Ya Makosi, The Paramount Chief of Ngonis. By Charles Govati

Ngwenyama Kanjedza Gomani 4

Who is Inkosi Ya Makosi?
The Inkosi Ya Makosi Ngwenyama is a very special male human being among the Ngonis
Inkosi Ya Makosi Ngwenyama is the living representation of all Ngoni Ancestors.
Inkosi Ya Makosi Ngwenyama is the embodiment of all Ngoni ancestral spirits.
Inkosi Ya Makosi Ngwenyama is a King and traditional leader of all the Ngoni tribes
Inkosi Ya Makosi Ngwenyama does not have a deputy or an acting person on his behalf.
Inkosi Ya Makosi Ngwenyama, is male from the ruling Royal house Blood line
Inkosi Ya Makosi Ngwenyama is through BLOOD and not through favours, letters and bracelets.
Inkosi Ya Makosi Ngwenyama can never be a female and will never be a female.
Inkosi Ya Makosi Ngwenyama is the only person entitled to the Bayethe Royal Salute
Inkosi Ya Makosi Ngwenyama rules his tribe through Amakhosi or Chiefs who are his footstools.
Inkosi Ya Makosi Ngwenyama may appoint any person to be an Inkosi or Chief over an area.
Inkosi Ya Makosi Ngwenyama is a political as well as a spiritual leader of the Ngonis.
Inkosi Ya Makosi Ngwenyama is a symbol of unity and father of his tribe
Inkosi Ya Makosi Ngwenyama enforces custom, tradition and practices through his chiefs
Inkosi Ya Makosi Ngwenyama does not impose his will but rules through the consensus of elders.
Inkosi Ya Makosi Ngwenyama only delivers justice through tribal law and he is fair and just.
Inkosi Ya Makosi Ngwenyama is not discriminatory and embraces all tribes under his jurisdiction.
Inkosi Ya Makosi Ngwenyama expresses the will of both the living and the dead Ngonis.
Inkosi Ya Makosi Ngwenyama is Ngwenyama for the all the Good, the Bad and The Ugly.


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