Ngoni Politics and Diplomacy 1848 – 1904 (part 2)

B. Pachai, Professor of History, University of Malawi, 1970
In the period covered in this article there were six different rulers and regents functioning at different times with varying degrees of success in the political life of the main Ngoni hosts in the north and south.28 After 1875 those in office had to contend in their external relations with three important influences, viz., indigenous and neighbouring peoples, missionaries, and the advent of British administration. Of these the first powerful impact came from the Scottish missionary factor represented in the work of the Livingstonia and Blantyre missionaries. In 1878 Dr Laws and Mr James Stewart visited Chikusi where they were kept waiting for four days before Chikusi would see them, an experience which Dr Stewart was to live through when he visited Mbelwa the following year. The British Consul, Hawes, on the other hand,lead a pleasant experience at Kujipore when he called on Chikusi in 1886. The Ngoni chiefs kept strict protocol in their dealing with Europeans. Where this was not respected by the visitors, as it happened in the case of the Chiwere Ndlovu Ngoni of Dowa district, the consequences were very serious. Dr Laws, who was kept waiting for days by Chikusi, was surprhed when Jumbe came out of his village to meet him half-way at Nkhota Kota in 1879;29 but this is understandable when we consider that Jumbe was saddled with internal disaffection led by his headman, Chiwaura, and external threats from the Yao. The Ngoni were in no hurry to seek political alliances with Europeans.
During the period of waiting, Chikusi’s councillors wanted an assurance from Laws as to the motives of the visiting party; chiefly to ensure that there was no evil intention and that no harm would befall Chikusi. When the interview was finally granted, the councillors sat themselves in a protective row between their chief and the visitors.30 The object of the visit was to announce the work of the missionaries and to promise to open a mission station in Chikusi’s country when possible. Chikusi resisted missionary intrusion for many years but saw like his contemporary, Lobengula that the white men were the agents for bringing in material goods and that they could not be fended off for long.
Before Scottish missionaries could work in his area much had happened in the external politics of Chikusi’s kingdom. In 1882 Chikusi’s people invaded the Shire Highlands and Lowlands plundering the Yao, Chewa and Kololo lands. The Kololo chief, Kasisi, in an attempt to prevent another invasion, sent some of his headmen and vassals to form defensive posts and settlements at various fords on the Shire. This arrangement was reinforced by sending some of the Kololo themselves to live on the spot (one of whom was the chief Mlauli) and to forge alliances with Chewa chiefs like Gwaza and Mpimbi in the area above Matope, and Chigaru below Matope. The creation of these lines of defences did not hold the Ngoni of Chikusi in rein. Through shrewd diplomacy one of Chikusi’s headmen, Nyamuka, entered into a pact with the Chewa chief, Gwaza, by which he promised not to attack Chewa settlements on the river banks in return for their neutrality and the right to pass unmolested on their way to the Shire Highlands. The objective seemed to be mainly Yao settlements.31
The area devastated was curtailed by missionary action. David Clement Scott, head of the Blantyre Mission since 1881, visited Chikusi in August 1884 to arrange about starting a mission at a future date. He reported that the meeting was successful ‘though very weighty’ and that he had seen the preparations for war. The visit was helpful to the missionaries for, as Scott reported, `the Ngoni were instructed not to enter the territory of the white men’.32 The raid took place later that month and Zomba, Cholo, Mlanje as far as Machemba, and the Blantyre areas of Malabvi, Mpingwe and Bangwe were raided. John Moir of the African Lakes Corporation and Henry Henderson of the Blantyre Mission met Nyamuka’s invading party at Ndirande Hill about a mile from Blantyre Mission. Moir offered the leader a present of calico and extracted a promise that the area between Blantyre and Bangwe would not he molested. The invading party, estimated to be a thousand men, kept then promise. Henderson even reported that they ‘professed to be friendly towards us’. Missionary intervention had led to salutary results. Consul O’Neill summarized this in his despatch to the Foreign Office:
`The most remarkable thing about the raid, and one I should think unique in the history of raids of such marauding tribes as the Angoni and Makanquara, is the manner in which the lives and property of the English and their dependents have been respected. A greater proof could not be given of the wholesome influence exerted by the Mission over the surrounding people an influence based entirely on respect and affection, for none knew better than the Angoni how completely defenceless the Blantyre Mission is. It is very satisfactory also to know that not only were the people attached to the Mission spared (some 800 took shelter at Blantyre and Mandala), but that Mr. Scott was able to secure the safety of the people of the Ajawa Chief Kapeni (who has always been on the friendliest terms with the Mission) at Soche and others at Dirandi and Malabvi’.33
In this report Chikusi is said to have come under mission influence but this was not due to any evangelizing work being carried out in his area. Chikusi was at first reluctant to accept a mission station in his area. Laws had to make a number of representations and it was only in 1887 that he consented to a station being built at Livlezi to the east of his settlement beyond Chilobwe hill. Dr G. Henry and Mr McIntyre were the first missionaries. Afterwards they received permission to start a mission village at Mpondera’s. It was only in the period of Gomani I that the Church of Scotland started mission work at Nthumbi, where Harry Kambwiri Matecheta spent many years; the Zambezi Industrial Mission at Ntonda, Chiole and Dombole; the Baptist Industrial Mission at Gowa. The White Fathers at Nzama (1901), Mua (1902), Ntakataka (1908) and Bembeke (1910) only began to gain support and adherents during the period of rule of Gomani II and Kachindamoto II, a period outside the scope of this article.
Chikusi was interested in the material aspects of missionary contribution. To him the missionaries and traders were alike. When the Lake Nyasa was abandoned at Matope awaiting repairs he made a point of removing the pressure gauge and other gadgets, no doubt to him symbolic of the white man’s wealth.34 Missionaries and traders were not drawn into the Ngoni politics in the south to the same extent as they were in the north. They acted more as remote controls.
In the north the Jere Ngoni subjugated by conquest or kept in a state of perpetual fear the Tumbuka, Tonga, Henga, and Phoka peoples. On the periphery, the other raided peoples mainly belonged to the Chewa and Ngonde societies. The village elders were allowed to live in their old villages in a form of patron-client relationship. The younger people were incorporated into the Ngoni society. In the Henga and Kasitu valleys where the Ngoni settled, the sixth paramount chief of an aggregation of peoples, many of whom did not recognize this paramountcy, was in office at this time (Chikulamayembe llwati) and he offered no resistance to the Ngoni invaders, being himself more of a trade leader than a military leader. The Tumbuka observed patrilineal inheritance and patrilocal marriage but the chieftainship was inherited matrilineally. The Tonga were akin while the Henga and Phoka peoples, like the Ngoni, were thoroughly patrilineal. What the Ngoni did introduce in the area was martial organization and many more herds of cattle. The Ngoni did seem to be favoured for a more rapid increase of their line, as certain Nguni and Sotho lineages, described by Monica Wilson in the following words :
‘I suggest that these were lineages which increased faster than the previous occupants because they commanded wealth, could marry many wives, and traced descent in the patrilineal line. It is in this fashion that a small group of cattle-owners establishing themselves among hunters or cultivators could increase fast. They married women of the group among whom they settled, and their offspring became part of the dominant group’.35
But within twenty years of Ngoni overlordship the younger generation of the subjugated peoples, reared in Ngoni communities and trained in Ngoni fighting methods, took up arms against the invaders.
This reaction was facilitated by the fact that the agglomeration of chieftain-ships in Tumbuka land was not destroyed by the mere fact of Ngoni settlement in their country. Traditional religion survived; traditional chieftainships survived. What the Ngoni in effect did was to foist upon the non-military peoples of the land a system of indirect overlordship, collecting tribute, absorbing local people where necessary into the military machine, and raiding neighbouring areas for food and serfs. Rev. Charles Chinula, Tumbuka educationist himself, has noted in his article on ‘Baza’s rebellion’ that Baza, too, enjoyed a measure of freedom after the Ngoni advent:
‘When Baza surrendered to Ng’onomo, the latter handed him to M’Mbelwa’s head wife, Munene, and he soon became a great warrior and hero, and brought chief M’Mbelwa slaves, ivory etc., to show his loyalty. But although he was under the Ngoni, he retained his villages, and his authority over his subjects.’
The northern Ngoni had come to settle among Tumbuka-speaking peoples of whom the main groups were the Tumbuka proper, the Henga, the Kamanga, the Hewe and the Phoka. By the nineteenth century, when the Ngoni arrived, the Chikulamayembe dynasty had established its hegemony over a large part of a trading state called Nkamanga. There were, of course, other chieftain- ships among the Tumbuka-speaking peoples, most of whom had come into existence in the eighteenth century. The Tumbuka proper who had lived in the region many centuries before, probably before the arrival of the Malawi chiefly clans between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries A.D., were themselves not organized under territorial chiefs. For this reason, they did not resist the eighteenth century traders from across the eastern side of Lake Malawi or the nineteenth century Ngoni invasion. As the original owners of the land, what claim would they have to the recognition of Tumbuka-proper chieftainships when the Jere kingdom inaugurated by the sons of Zwangendaba spread its rule over them?
In 1958, or about one hundred years after the Ngoni settled permanently in the country of Tumbuka-speaking peoples, a meeting was held in two places in the Mzimba district to discuss the claims put forward by two groups of Tumbuka proper for the restoration of Tumbuka chieftainships. The meetings were both held under the chairmanship of Inkosi Ya Makosi M’Mbelwa II in the M’Mbelwa African Administrative Council. The claims put forward were for the restoration of the chieftainships of Baza Dokowe and Katumbi Chimjokola Jenjewe. The details of this manifestation of Tumbuka chieftainships are not properly the concern of this paper, but certain conclusions arrived at after full discussions at these meetings, at which members of the Tumbuka community were present, are important. The first was the admission that there were no Tumbuka chieftainships before the advent of the Ngoni, and the second that the pre-Mlowoka Tumbuka proper did not live in large villages but in small, scattered groups, under family or clan heads. These points, which were made by a prominent Tumbuka, were not disputed at the meetings. One of the Tumbuka was an old man born in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The conclusion, by common consent, was that the Tumbuka proper were not politically organized in the pre-Ngoni period.
Other questions which were raised at the meetings were: what were the symbols of Tumbuka chieftainships? Where did the Tumbuka come from? These issues were raised by those who wished to have their claims ratified and the argument put forward was that the Mazirankundu beads were symbols of chiefly authority; that certain places like Jenjewe or Mbalale were the headquarters of certain Tumbuka proper chieftainships. The counter to these arguments was that the beads were a later introduction by Arab traders and that every Tumbuka was allowed to put them on; and as for migration and settlement of the Tumbuka, those who remembered their traditions claimed to have lived at different places at various times: Chitipa and Karonga in the north and in the south and east in Chewa and Tonga country. But many wen:: not able to trace their movements, adding to the assumption that where traditions of settlements or movements are not clearly remembered, the reaction is symptomatic of the absence of a functional role: that of establishing claims to chieftainships. Traditions of burial places of ancestors are well remembered when the ancestors belong to a chiefly line so that the claims of descendants to chiefly positions could be supported.
Thus we see that a hundred years after the arrival of the Ngoni, it was difficult for the Tumbuka-proper to explain who their pre-Ngoni chiefs were. What seems probable is that provided survival was itself not threatened, the pre-Ngoni peoples tolerated a great deal of the Ngoni irritants whilst biding their time mastering Ngoni fighting methods. The Ngoni headman Mayayi Chiputula Nhlane, in whose village on the border of Ngoni-Tonga territory most of the subject Tonga lived, was looked upon by a large number of Tonga as the guardian of their interests, having himself married many Tonga women. His death, coupled with fears of a general purge of the aged and infirm, set off a series of revolts which ended in a consolidation of the Ngoni position. In a little over five years (1875-81) the Ngoni re-asserted their presence, this time largely through force of arms. It was not in every campaign That the Ngoni were victorious but in sum they were now more firmly in the saddle than they had been a generation earlier.
Their most formidable foes were the Tonga who were drawn into Ngoni society because the latter needed food (cassava) and people (to enlarge their villages and join their regiments). The Ngoni did not feel secure in new surroundings and sought to strengthen themselves. How did they set about doing this? A young researcher has come up with this explanation:
‘After subjugating the Tonga, they (the Ngoni) went from village to village asking for young men and boys, a system called “kuhola”. They took these young men and boys, trained them in the art of war, and gave them an Ngoni identity. This they rightly thought would make their tribe big and great. We have no statistical data and demographic information to show how successful the Ngoni were at this system but one gets the idea that it all worked very well. When these young men and boys grew up they would fight for the Ngoni.’36
The Tonga struck first (1874-75), followed by the Nkamanga-Henga (1876) and the Tumbuka proper (1880), the last-named being not the rising it is made out to be but the culmination of a personal quarrel between Baza Dokowe and Ng’onomo Makamo. Agreeing with the version that the quarrel was over ivory, the Rev. Charles Chinula wrote in 1928: ‘There is a great deal of misunderstanding in connection with Baza’s rebellion.
For the purposes of Ngoni politics and Scottish missionary intervention it is necessary to say that the rebellious Tonga fled to their pre-Ngoni homes in the lakeshore area of Chinteche and Bandawe. At Chinteche in 1876-77 the hitherto invincible Ngoni war machine broke down before a determined Tonga resistance led by one Kazizwa.37 The debacle at Chinteche was a bitter pill for the Ngoni to swallow. Each side sought revenge: the Ngoni to avenge their defeat; the Tonga to wipe out old scores of conquest and raids.
It is in this background that we should consider the activities of the Livingstonia missionaries who, in search of a more permanent and attractive site for their headquarters as well as for new spheres for mission work, set up two observation posts in 1878, at Bandawe, and at Kaning’ina near the present town of Mzuzu. The first of these was in Tonga territory; the second on the Tonga-Ngoni boundary. In 1881 the observation posts were abandoned when permanent headquarters of the Livingstonia Mission was set up at Bandawe with the gleeful consent of the harassed Tonga.
But the Ngoni were less gleeful of the missionary presence. When James Stewart visited Kaning’ina in 1879, Mbelwa would not see him. His headmen could not understand why the missionaries should have settled in Tonga country. What the Ngoni desired was an exclusive Ngoni-Missionary alliance. Stewart wrote home as follows :
‘They have lost both power and prestige within the last two years, and may now be resolving to attempt to regain both. I heard later that there are two parties in their council. Mombera and Chipatula and their headmen are desirous of peace and to invite us still to come among them, while Ntwaro and Mperembe wish to keep us at a distance, and to recover their power by force of arms. It was in deference to the wishes of this party that Mombera would not see us. I may mention now that two months afterwards Ntwaro broke the peace and attacked and burned two Atimbuka villages, killing the inhabitants. I fully expect that soon the Atonga and Atimbuka alliance will drive the Amangone out of the country.38
Stewart’s prediction was wrong, The Ngoni had come to stay. Whoever came between them and their objectives did so at their own peril. This was pointed out clearly to Dr Laws when he first met Mbelwa in January 1879 in the company of the Xhosa, William Koyi Mtusane, and Frederick Moir. Mbelwa requested the missionaries to live with them since they were the rulers of the land and the Tonga were mere subjects.
‘Our children we must have back, and we would have gone and fought with the Tonga, and driven them into the Lake, had you not visited us and said war was bad…. You say there should be peace; send back our children and there will be lasting peace’.
The conditions laid down were difficult for the missionaries to fulfil. As Laws pointed out, the missionaries wished to maintain a position of neutrality and they needed a lakeshore outlet to receive their provisions. In the meantime, the Kaning’ina outstation was there to serve the Ngoni.39 The position was unacceptable to the Ngoni. When Stewart visited the chief later that year he received the rebuff already mentioned. The Baza Dokowe incident of 1880 in the very heart of Ngoni settlement—a few miles from Mbelwa’s headquarters near Hora Mountain—was attributed by the Ngoni to the Mission teaching of equality and righteousness. After Dokowe’s supporters were ruthlessly crushed (the movement, since it started off as no more than a personal quarrel, lacked both support and organization), the Ngoni turned on the Tonga again, increasing the ferocity and the frequency of raids into Tongaland.
How did the Ngoni of the following generation see this epoch of missionary intervention? In his memorandum to the Royal Commission on closer union headed by Lord Bledisloe in 1938, Inkosi Mbelwa II made, inter alia, the following submission:
‘Before the European advent in this country my grandfather Inkosi Mbelwa’s kingdom extended as far as Lwangwa Valley, covering the following districts: Karonga, Kasungu, Chintechi and Lundazi or Sengaland, Mzimba being its centre. His mode of rule was not to root off people from their countries, but left them to rule over their people under him according to their custom and creed. He only collected young men who were trained as warriors, who after they were trained made some revolts and in most cases they were got back and to be got back; but the missionary intervened by preaching the Gospel which made peace for all’.
But before peace could come, Laws and his co-missionaries had to walk the tight-rope of dangerous diplomacy with the warring factions. As a first step Laws was compelled to take note of Ngoni sentiment and politics especially since the Livingstonia Mission had shifted its headquarters to Bandawe in 1881. The success of the mission depended on the existence of a peaceful Tongaland. In that same year Laws paid his second visit to Mbelwa. A big indaba was held at Njuyu followed by local discussions in which the chief’s brothers, indunas and headmen participated. The result was that Mbelwa agreed to receive a mission at Hoho village, situated at the foot of Njuyu Hill, north of the Kasitu river, about twelve miles from present Ekwendeni, as from 1882. The missionaries left here were William Koyi and James Sutherland.40 In 1889 a second station was started at Ekwendeni under Elmslie.41 A third station, a branch of Njuyu, was started in 1893 with Peter McCallum as artisan-teacher and Dr Steele as medical missionary at Hora, near the mountain scene of the tragic Dokowe incident of 1880.
The opening of the Njuyu station in 1882 was no more than a symbolic gesture. The missionaries had no permission to teach the children or to preach to anyone at first. Their role was little more than that of hostages, as a two way guarantee against attacks on or by the Ngoni and Tonga. Dr Laws paid a third visit to Mbelwa in 1882 and yet another in 1883 in an effort to get the restrictions lifted. He failed to obtain permission from Mbelwa to open schools. The only concession granted was that the missionaries could preach in Hoho village alone and this Koyi did by visiting people in their huts. The result was not altogether unrewarding but it was slow in coming. The Hoho village profited in other ways by being able to sell their produce to missionaries in exchange for calico, a point which was impressed upon Dr Laws as being unfair to the other Ngoni settlements. Mbelwa’s objection to the opening of schools was that since he was unable to evaluate the type of instruction to be given, he should be taught first in order to ensure that missionary teaching s would not undermine the structure of Ngoni society..42
For Mbelwa and his Ngoni, long accustomed to having their own way in all dealings based purely on martial strength, the political diplomacy which now followed altered the situation drastically in 1882. They were now saddled with the presence and interference of missionaries in their domestic and external relations. Mbelwa would not order the sacking of Bandawe while the missionaries were there. He had developed a respect and affection for Koyi and Laws. His brothers, indunas, headmen and warriors did not all have the same disposition toward the missionary intervention. Mbelwa had asked Laws to carry a message from him to the Tonga in 1881 conveying his terms for settlement. Laws agreed to act as an emissary on just that occasion and thereafter to wash his hands of active involvement. The Bandawe Tonga had received the representations in a spirit of negotiation and compromise and were prepared to pursue the matter; the Chinteche Tonga had scorned the representations and offered to settle old scores in the way the Ngoni had taught them. This was a powerful affront and two factors prevented Mbelwa from accepting the challenge: his respect for mission property and presence and doubts over whether he had the army to succeed in reversing the Chinteche disaster of 1876-77 though he is reported to have planned a defensive campaign on the lines of the fight at Hora Mountain in 1880. He had already committed himself to helping Mwase Kasungu against the Jumbe of Nkhota Kota in a quarrel in which these chiefs were involved. His dilemma over the Chinteche affair was resolved for him by the virtual annihilation of the Ngoni army which set out against Jumbe.43 The stabbing spear was being superseded by the muzzle-loader and now there were two scores to settle: the old one against the Tonga; the new one against the Jumbe.
With enemies all around him, Mbelwa had to make sure of the role the missionaries were playing at Njuyu. Were they in league with his enemies and working towards undermining his position and authority? He demanded to know in 1883. He sent a heifer to the Njuyu missionaries as a gift and as a token of his friendship with the missionaries. Koyi and Sutherland did not know what Mbelwa’s motives were. They summoned Laws to come immediately to find out. Nobody else, they were sure, could discern Mbelwa’s motives and nobody else would receive Mbelwa’s confidence as Laws would. Sutherland told Laws: ‘We have an opinion of the disposition of Mombera and the people that were you on the ground the country would lie before you’.44 Mbelwa, upset by the personal tragedy of the death of his eldest daughter and of that of an invalid brother, moved towards a settlement with the missionaries. He attended their prayer meetings, participating in his own way and punctuating Koyi’s sermons with ‘Amacebo ako’ (‘your lies’). He offered the missionaries a deal in 1884. If the missionaries would allow him to sally north to raid for cattle as well as to punish those recalcitrant Tonga they could have his permission to open schools in Ngoni territory.”
The missionaries for their part tried to wield indirect pressures. First, they sought in vain the support of Mbelwa’s councillors. After a whole day’s parleying the missionaries reported that ‘the only conclusion that they arrived at is that we must give Mombera the Kalata and he will teach the children himself’. Second, they sought and obtained at long last Mbelwa’s consent to see Mtwalo on whom they had pinned their hopes and whose support the Ngoni paramount required in order to meet any criticism or opposition from his councillors.45
There were pressing reasons why Mbelwa should resolve the missionary question at home for it was being used as a lever by his councillors to extract various concessions, chiefly to go on raids. Another area of local disaffection was growing among the Tumbuka, who followed Tonga-Ngoni relations closely. When they received word that the Chinteche Tonga leader Kangoma was negotiating an alliance with the Jumbe against the Ngoni, here, they felt, was a fruitful opportunity for co-operation to settle old scores. A missionary informed Dr Laws of this.
‘The Atimbuka are presently thinking of leaving the Angoni. And so there is a good deal of trouble in Angoniland. The Atimbuka protest against the slavery of the Ngoni and say the white men tell them not to have slaves. So they are to have freedom and speak of joining Kambombo. Perhaps nothing may come out of it. I almost wish they would leave as it would so weaken the Angoni that we might have peace. The Atimbuka are the fighting men for the Angoni.’47
What ultimately weakened the Ngoni and led to the extension of missionary activities in Mbelwa’s country as well as eventually to the imposition of Protectorate rule in the area was not the existence and influence of local or external forces contributing to a debilitation of the Ngoni but to the supervention of natural forces. Mbelwa’s lands experienced recurring drought conditions since 1882. This was variously interpreted by the medicine men, indunas, councillors and the chief’s brothers depending on what each affected group desired. Three main reasons were given by the witch doctors: that the Ngoni were not friendly to the whites and would not listen to them; the existence of enmity between the chief and his brothers; the refusal of the Ngoni to accept the white man’s kalata (letter). The position became worse in 1886. No rain had fallen in the area between November 1885 and early May 1886. The warriors wanted to remedy the position by wiping out the missionaries but they were severely admonished by Mbelwa.48 An appeal was made to Dr Elmslie for rain at an ordinary Sunday prayer meeting as a last resort. The course of Ngoni and mission history in Mbelwa’s country was altered by a freak of nature when the storm clouds broke benevolently over the parched lands a day after that appeal. Elmslie left for Bandawe almost immediately afterwards to look after the mission while Laws was away on leave. He reported with justifiable pride :
‘letters from the hills today bring the news that the Angoni as a tribe are tc go to war no more that the threatened insurrection of the released slaves is to be met by a union of Mombera and all his brothers, which has just been consummated, all old quarrels having been settled, that the brothers are to settle near Mombera, but best of all the councillors were sent to inform us that the children are ours to teach and that they desire us to do so and to preach through the length and breadth of the land.’49
The break-through was made even if the follow-up needed tact and tolerance. A new era dawned in Ngoni history and the people were naturally slow and diffident to take quick advantage of the missionary presence. The Hoho people would not send their children to school. Until this happened there could be no formal opening. Mbelwa hesitated to open a school in his own village because this might arouse envy. He had all along been criticized for being too soft with the missionaries.50 Now he wanted Laws to know that both climate and soil had combined to affect Ngoni politics. He pointed out that the Ngoni villages would have to move; that the soil was poor in the area of present settlement. Now that raiding was curtailed, peace could only be won and kept if there was plenty of food cultivated. He saw that it would soon be necessary to shift to the Mzimba river area. He asked whether the missionaries would follow the Ngoni villages. Such a decision only Dr Laws could take for the local missionaries.51
When Mbelwa was convinced that this would in fact be the case—as certainly turned out to be in subsequent years.52 he summoned an indaba the great cattle kraal in December 1886. Here he declared unequivocally that the missionaries were free to teach any child from any district. With this public declaration the paramount chief of the northern Ngoni dispelled any doubt as to the status of the Scottish missionaries. The uncertain days since 1882 were over for the moment, though not altogether free of trouble for all parties concerned, as Elmslie noted in his report to Dr Laws:
‘Chipatula [sic] was their and our “umtelele” or “go-between” and in the fewest possible words we thanked Mombera… The drought led to this new move because we know that some of the Councillors do not believe that we have power over the rain and they refused to join the party. Those who came believe that we keep away the rain because of their action in regard to schools. I am tired of being considered a god, but gladly accept whatever position I am called upon to fill. The position is plain. If rain comes to satisfy them now their belief in our powers to do good or ill as we choose will be strengthened and we will be gods for another year or till the next drought. If rain does not come then we will be speedily asked what more we wish and the crisis will have come as to what is to be done with us’.53
The crisis did come the following year when a party of Livingstonia missionaries and Tonga carriers was attacked by a band suspected to be Ngoni. The road from Chinteche to Mzuzu and Hora was closed. No Tonga carriers were willing to enter Ngoni land. The Tonga retaliated by striking at the nearest Ngoni base, that of Mtwalo. This embittered Mtwalo and he used pressure on Mbelwa to sanction an attack on the Tonga. Fortunately for the missionaries and the Tonga, Mbelwa was not prepared to break the pledge given. He was constrained, however, to ask for three things: the Ngoni children still with the Tonga should be returned; there should be more evidence of material wealth coming to his people as a result of missionary activities in his area; one white person only should man the Bandawe post and the rest should join the mission stations in Ngoni land. Elmslie lived through the turbulent days among Mbelwa’s people, watching with trepidation the war preparations and growing impatience. Although he buried three- quarters of his medicine in preparation for a hasty retreat he took the view that Ngoni land was preferable to Tonga land but Laws did not agree. Elmslie even suggested the neutral port of Ruarwe to resolve the harbour argument but Laws remained unimpressed. Elmslie admitted that they were looking at the position with jaundiced eyes, ‘You from a Lake or Atonga side and me from an Angoni side.’
Mbelwa pressed for a personal meeting with Laws in 1887, a request which was not met either because the Tonga refused to release him for the trip or because he was himself not prepared to evacuate his post. Mbelwa then made two moves. In the one he tried to cajole Elmslie into closing down the mission stations in Ngoni land and thus returning the Ngoni cattle given as pledge ofgood conduct by the Ngoni. This Elmslie would not do, realizing that such a move would play right into the hands of the Ngoni politicians. The second was to make a last-minute appeal to Laws to get out of Tonga land for the sake of his personal safety and thus be in a position to open more stations in Ngoni land. Elmslie supported Mbelwa and seemed convinced that his sincerest wish was to free Dr Laws from virtual captivity by the Tonga. ‘Let us go’, the Ngoni seemed to say, ‘and give Robert peace’. To Elmslie, the mission head-quarters would best be located in Ngoni land because the people were willing to receive missionaries; they were powerful and independent and their influence was felt hundreds of miles away; the area was healthy and the scope was wide. Laws did not budge; the Mbelwa proposals were not met. Local affrays continued but Mbelwa refused to give the command for war till the end. The crisis passed over when the Ekwendeni Mission was started in 1889. It was now seen that the pressure behind Mbelwa was generated by his brother Mtwalo. A mission at Mtwalo’s headquarters turned out to be one of the shrewdest moves by the Livingstonia missionaries.54
It was only when Mbelwa died in 1891 that the war-hungry hordes made one last foray. The Tonga leader, Kambombo, for long a thorn in their path, was killed and the plunderers looted deep into Northern Malawi. One of Mbelwa’s sons was not willing to join the warriors and when upbraided as a coward went to the missionary McCallum at Ekwendeni and said that he would go but that he would not kill. Another Ngoni explained that they were going out in search of cattle ‘and then they will make peace with the white man’.55 The white man referred to was Harry Hamilton Johnston, British Commissioner and Consul-General. With this a new dimension was now to enter into Ngoni politics. Up till now it had been a triangular affair involving mainly the Ngoni, Tonga and missionaries. Mbelwa and Laws were the heroes of this period, each supported by able lieutenants. Their wits and friendship were well matched. It is hard to say who was the more fortunately placed. To both must go credit for a measure of honest diplomacy. The more creditable performance was that of Mbelwa. To him negotiation and compromise were new attributes in the Ngoni repertoire. The fact that he resorted to them is an index of maturity of leadership; the fact that the Ngoni political system found room and use for them is a commentary on the flexibility of the system itself.

Consul Hawes visited Chikusi in 1886, staying for four days in the chief’s meeting place at Kujipore (Chikusi’s capital was at Liwisini a distance of about five hours’ journey). The attitude he adopted was that he was dealing with an independent ruler on dignified and respectful terms. In his report he noted: ‘I thanked His Majesty on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government for the reception he had given me.’ He gave Chikusi impressive gifts in keeping with the chief’s status. At the talks held Chikusi promised to give every facility and protection to the Scottish Missions when established in Ngoni land; to discontinue raids in the Zomba and Blantyre areas and to set up a military town at Mpimbi on the Shire river to prevent his people from getting beyond this point. Chikusi gave a pledge to honour the undertaking a pledge he never broke—in the following words: ‘If I break my word, white man, you may come and spit in my eyes’.56 The entire negotiations were conducted with the greatest decorum. The chief was not in the best of health and therefore not at his capital village. When he chanced to meet Hawes unexpectedly at Kujipore he accorded Hawes the dignity of his station, a point the Consul was not slow to grasp. Through an interpreter, Chikusi told Hawes:
The King says he is very glad to see you. He has heard that you have come from the Queen of a great country. On that account he wishes to do special honour by coming out to meet you.’57
There is no reason to believe that Consul Hawes was anything but honest in his despatches. There was no good reason why Chikusi should have been presented in this light for flattery sake. The area was not yet in the arena of colonial dispute, nor was it involved in the Anglo-Portuguese rivalry at this time for treaties with African chiefs. Hawes reported on Chikusi as he found him. The tragedy which struck Chikusi’s successor was due solely to the politics of Harry Johnston who saw his immediate programme in the following !lister terms:
‘the general policy to be followed at first should be “Divide et Impera”. Discount the personal interests of the various native chiefs and Arab Sultans as far as possible; discreetly encourage their mutual rivalries (stopping short, of course, of inciting them to civil war); bind over the more influential men to your interests by small money subsidies, and you will easily become the unquestioned Rulers of Nyasaland.’58
On his first treaty-making expedition in Malawi in 1889-1890, while still Consul at Mozambique, the only Ngoni chief with whom Johnston signed a reaty was Chiwere Ndlovu of Dowa. Either through ignorance or design he labelled Chikusi, Chiwere, Palankungu, Kanguru, Undi, Mpeseni, Mwase asungu and Mbelwa as leading Angoni chiefs.59 He was to say very much the same thing at the beginning of 1896 when reporting the happy tidings of victory at long last against Mlozi, the Yao Saidi Mwazungu, and Mwase Kasungu. The latter was specially dubbed an Ngoni chief. Swann, District Resident at Nkhota Kota, reinforced this by informing Johnston who Mwase was. ‘Mwasi himself is a stranger and an alien, of Zulu extraction’. After almost eight years in and out of the country, Johnston surely knew who the Ngoni were. His motives for confusing identities are not difficult to explain. By 1896 he wanted not only to show that he was the unquestioned ruler of Nyasaland but a legitimate ruler at that for
‘these enemies whom we have recently conquered, like all with whom we have fought since our assumption of the Protectorate, were not natives of the country fighting for their independence, but aliens of Arab, Yao, or Zulu race who were contesting with us the supremacy over the natives of Nyasaland’.60
It was wrong for Johnston to say that the Ngoni were in this contest with the Administration. Chikusi had received three visits from Administrative Agents, one in 1882 by Montague Kerr, another by Consul Hawes in 1886 and the third by Alfred Sharpe in 1890. With Hawes he had made a gentleman’s agreement; with Sharpe he had done the same but in neither case had he signed away his territory. The uniform ‘treaty’ which Sharpe negotiated with Chiwere, Mwase and others in 1890 was no more than a printed form which stated that the chief concerned agreed to peace between subjects of the British Queen and himself; to British subjects building houses, and holding property ‘according to laws in force’ in the chief’s country; to trading by British subjects; to an undertaking not to cede the territory to any other power without the consent of the British Government.61 This was far from placing his country under British protection, as Johnston claimed.
In August, 1891, Chikusi died, almost a year after Sharpe’s visit. Johnston reported that the youthful Chatumtumba (Gomani I) who succeeded him had sent an emissary to Zomba and placed himself under British protection, asking for assistance against the Chifisi-Mponda league against him. The present paramount, Gomani III, denies strenuously that any such pact was made. There is no documentary evidence of one. According to Johnston’s own version he pursued the matter by calling on Mponda to desist and to pay reparations to the Ngoni. He was met by a solid phalanx of Mponda’s and Chifisi’s men, with the likelihood of Makanjira joining. No more was heard about his intervention on behalf of Chikusi.62 It was not Chikusi’s cause that Johnston was championing or furthering by this intervention.
Though he reported well of the Ngoni in 1894, calling them ‘splendid fellows’ and ‘the backbone of British Central Africa’, Johnston had no desire to allow the existence of states within a state and sounded the ominous alarm that ‘we shall have to try conclusions (with them) some day’.63 It is not mere coincidence that Johnston waited till 1896 to try his conclusions. In 1891 he entered into a treaty with Mbelwa by which he undertook not to tax Mbelwa’s people or interfere with them in any way provided that they remained in the area then occupied by them, i.e. between the South Rukuru river in the north and Hora Mountain in the south and that they did not raid or molest the inhabitants outside their country.
It is true that the Livingstonia missionaries asked Johnston not to interfere with the northern Ngoni but it is equally true that the Livingstonia missionaries were helpless to enforce any conditions on the Ngoni. It was the power of the Ngoni themselves that deterred Johnston and his successor from taking precipitate action. Sir Alfred Sharpe admitted this as late as 1899.
‘….They are a very independent tribe, and to have attempted to put in force the Hut Tax and any large measure of direct control hitherto would have meant disturbances, which I have been anxious to avoid’.64
British protectorate policy was to wait for the most opportune moment and at the same time to procure a casus belli. With the northern Ngoni they were very much restrained. When Chibisa fled to Hora after the fall of Mwase Kasungu in 1895 and received asylum from Mbelwa’s great warrior Ng’onomo, the Administration was outraged. At this moment of administering the coup de grace to its surviving opponents it sought in turn the heads of Mlozi, Mwase Kasungu, Saidi Mwazungu, Chibisa and lastly Gomani I. Now only the last two remained and one of these was in hiding in the heart of Mbelwa’s land where the missionaries were expected and requested to take up the Administration’s cause. District Resident Swann addressed the Ngoni regent and indunas through the missionaries, asking them to hand over Chibisa. At the same time he prevailed upon the missionaries to use their good offices to seek the arrest of Chibisa. Elmslie was careful not to involve the Ngoni in any way. He advised the rulers and their advisers to disown both Chibisa and Ng’onomo and thereafter to ask the Administration to take whatever punitive action it wished independently of mission or Ngoni involvement. This Swann was not prepared to do and Chibisa was allowed to stay unmolested until he left of his own accord later that year for Mpezeni’s to whip up support.65
Johnston was not prepared to fight the northern Ngoni over the Chibisa affair. He was not prepared to do the thing for himself nor was Elmslie prepared to do it for him. The missionaries were at an advantage. They could do without the government but the government could not do without them. ‘It is no doubt desirable’, wrote Elmslie,
‘to have them settled under British rule and I have no doubt all would act on our advice, but getting into political relations is not agreeable. Only so far as indirectly such things may help our work—our position is not dependent on the Government..’.66
Another mission and a chief of a breakaway Ngoni community were placed in similar circumstances in 1895-96. The Dutch Reformed Church Mission.67 worked in the area of Chief Chiwere Ndlovu. The subjugation by the Administration of a number of African chiefs was a matter of growing concern to Chiwere. He was under great pressure from his head wife, indunas and headmen to expel or exterminate the missionaries. Like Mbelwa he resisted these demands but the word got round that the missionaries were in imminent danger. Zomba sent five Makua soldiers to guard the mission at Mvera without being requested by the missionaries to do so. The presence of uniformed policemen at the Mission aroused the hostility of Chiwere’s people. Was the mission in collusion with the Administration? Was there any difference between one white man and another?68 The point which worried Chiwere was how could W. H. Murray be his friend as well as the friend of the Administration which was anxious to take his land from him and turn him ‘into a slave’.69
Chiwere and his followers came to the conclusion that the representatives of the Administration who were now trespassing in their area should be wiped out. But before carrying this out, Chiwere summoned a meeting of the D.R.C.M. missionaries and suggested a line of action:
‘How will it be if I call up my warriors and drive out the white man who is now trying to come in here and we and you should stay on alone in the land? If you say yes we can clinch the matter here and now’.71
The missionaries took care not to offend Chiwere and his people and at thesame time to point out to them the serious consequences of such a deed. Though disappointed in the advice, Chiwere accepted it and promised not to harm the Administration. When the Administration made a tactical blunder of convening a meeting with the Ngoni chief, Msakambewa at Kongwe, Chiwere took this to be an insult as Msakambewa was deemed to be junior to him,and he did not attend, concluding that the Administration was plotting with Msakambewa to undermine his authority. In this state of mind, the appearance of a government boundary expedition in his headquarters at Msongandeu was sufficient provocation for Chiwere to flee for safety to a small village called Mbindo from where he planned to attack the European forces which were closing in on him. The fact that he did not do so and finally agreed to accept Codrington and the British Administration in his area was due entirely to the intervention of and the assurance by W. H. Murray:
‘If Mala (Codrington) were to arrest your chief he would have to arrest me too. If he kills Chiwere he will have to kill me too’.71
There was no killing on this occasion and one strong Ngoni community was now under effective British rule by missionary persuasion. When the second, the Maseko of Gomani I, suffered the same fate the event was immortalized by the tragedy which visited it. Gomani had a number of grievances. He was not in favour of the payment of tax by his people in his area, arguing that he had never asked for British protection. He objected to the employment of his subjects by the Administration or by the Zambezi Industrial Mission or other employers. On 6 October 1896 he and his indunas called on the missionary in charge of the Zambezi Industrial Mission at Dombole and demanded the release of those who worked for the Mission, suspecting that some of them had been responsible for plundering the goods of the African Lakes Corporation. The demand was refused. That night about 27 villages were burned down on Gomani’s orders. This led to his arrest by Captain Ashton. On 27 October Gomani I was given a summary trial and ordered to be marched off to Blantyre. Refusing to walk further he was tied to a tree between Dombole and Chiole and shot.72 Another strong Ngoni community was now under effective British rule and this time because of grievances against missionaries. Gomani I was condemned on the strength of testimonies by missionaries but fundamentally because the paramount chief believed that the area was his domain. He was not prepared to compromise as Mbelwa had done.
The last and largest Ngoni community in Malawi entered the administrative fold relatively quietly. A number of factors combined to bring this about. For long the Livingstonia missionaries had preached the sermon of protection alike for the raided and the raiders, more particularly to the former. The Mbelwa Ngoni were made to see the positive side of a protectorate government when their material wealth their cattle—was protected from exploitation by traders who paraded as government agents. One such man was William Ziehl who was charged by the government with stealing 10 cattle and 10 goats and for waging war against the Ngoni of the north. For these offences he was given a sentence of £50 fine or 6 months’ imprisonment in 1899. Capt. Pearce, who tried the case, was quick to point out the propaganda value of this occasion.
‘…if I may venture to express my opinion, there will be few opportunities more suitable than the present for opening out this large and populated district, while the memories of the white man’s trial and the event at Ekwendeni are impressed in their minds’.73
A further factor was the outbreak of rinderpest which virtually wiped out their cattle stocks in 1893. This development undermined much of the economic and social foundations of Ngoni society. It has been noted already that ever since 1899 there was talk of moving into new lands as the fertility of the old ones was fast diminishing. Lands became denuded of trees and fertile lands became wastelands. Even before Mbelwa died in August, 1891 his son Chimtunga (who was later to be enthroned as paramount chief in 1896) moved his village some 40 miles south of Hora Mountain and settled between present Loudon Mission and the Rukuru river on the east and west. This movement was interpreted by the Administration as a violation of the treaty obligations of 1891. One other factor was the incompetent rule of Chimtunga, the successor of Mbelwa I. He was unpopular with some of the amakosi, two of whom paid a call at the instigation of the Scottish missionaries, on the British Resident at Nkhata Bay, for the express purpose of seeking British protection which they were told by the missionaries would neutralize Chimtunga’s incompetence. This move, however small, strengthened the hands of Commissioner Sharpe. A last contributory factor was an incident of 1904, when tax collectors crossed over into Ngoni territory from Tonga land and began to collect hut-taxes in a non-authorized area. They burned down the villages of those who, rightly in the circumstances, refused to pay tax in the Ngoni sector. This incident had serious repercussions and the protectorate Government moved in using the pretext that since the 1891 treaty had now been abrogated by the Ngoni in one important respect the government was justified in taking this step.74
A fallacy about the coming of British Administration to northern Ngoniland is that it was due purely and simply to Dr Laws; that he had decided that the time had come and had therefore summoned Sir Alfred Sharpe to consummate the deed.75 Laws does not himself make this claim. If anything, Laws wanted this to come about long before 1904 and had suggested it about 1896 when Elmslie had refused to do Johnston’s dirty work for him in the Chibisa affair.
As early as 1901, three years before the cumulative effect was felt of the proverbial last straw that broke the northern Ngoni’s back, the missionaries had begun to see that the odds were against the Ngoni. Some of the prouder ones among them were able and willing to tell the missionaries just what they had done to the Ngoni: ‘You have spoiled the country’, said Ng’onomo.
‘You have just come from Marambo. The people there were once mine. There at Kasungu you see the people running to “the Consol” with tusks which should have been brought to me as of old. You have caused me and my country to die.’


Even the missionaries could not but reflect with admiration:
‘But Ng’onomo had beaten others and he knows when he is beaten himself. It is such as he who are the only ones in Ngoniland that voice any sentiment of opposition to the Administration.76
Had the missionaries the power of crystal-gazing they would have added that there was more of the warrior Ng’onomo yet to come after 1904.
On 24 October 1904 Commissioner Sharpe, in the presence of a number of Livingstonia missionaries (excluding the veterans Laws and Elmslie), two European ladies, and thousands of Ngoni, brought northern Ngoniland under British rule with the following assurances: the authority of the hereditary chiefs would be upheld; they would be able to decide minor disputes among their people; they would receive annual subsidies. The chiefs for their part undertook to act justly and rightly; not to accept bribes; to get their people to pay tax; to obey the Resident and to follow his advice.77
Since this article started off as an account of Ngoni politics in Malawi, let us leave the last word with Inkosi Mbelwa Jere II;
‘Long ago in the time of my father before the Government took over my district there came a European from Northern Rhodesia who had to shoot, and rob people their property, and did all sorts of evil and damages to man and property, we were protected by the Nyasaland Government; this is one of the reasons that my father willingly placed himself under the Imperial Government Rule because the Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Pearce, had displayed justice and shewed great protection by fining that European and making him to pay all damages made to people. The second reason was that on occasions the Commissioners visited his country, they promised him that his kingdom will be as that of Khama and the Prince of Zanzibar, and that no European will have power over his country and over him, also that Her Majesty Queen Victoria will send a Consul to help him and to strengthen his power and that his people will pay taxes to him and not to Her Majesty the Queen. In course of time after Her Majesty the Queen died, Sir Alfred Sharpe came with the question of collecting taxes, this was refused at many times until 1904 when a treaty was made, and it was more favourable to us than it appears on the attached extract printed by missionaries at Livingstonia Mission.78
The Maseko and Jere Ngoni of Malawi, who constitute the focus of this study, played an active part in the political affairs of their time. The quality of diplomacy is not measured solely by the success which attends it but by the vigour and vitality with which it is played. Between 1848 and 1904 these communities were not only presented with a series of succession disputes and a rather unfortunate spate of deaths of rulers in a series. Their political manoeuvres were of necessity those of migrant communities against mainly other migrant communities, both black and white. Traditional lore mixed with western lore; the cattle kraal competed with the school, church and classroom; the assegai with the muzzle loader and the cross; the heathen with the Christian; the Paramount with the Protectorate. It was a period when contradictions had to he reconciled and compromise solutions sought. If they lost a few wars and some rounds of diplomacy and one paramount chief, the Ngoni did not lose the battle for survival. They lived through the colonial interlude with greater adaptability than many. This was due in no small measure to the variety and vitality of their politics.


28. See also G. T. Nurse, ‘The Installation of Inkosi Ya Makosi Gomani III’. Afr. Alas. Soc. 1., 4 (I), 1966-67, 56-63.
In the North, Ntabeni, Mgayi, Gwaza (regents), M’mbelwa I, Mkuzo (regent) and Chimtunga; in the south, Chidiaonga (regent), Chikusi, Gomani I, Namlangeni, Mandala and Chakumbira Ndau (regents).
29. Laws, R., Reminiscences of Livingstonia (Edinburgh and London 1934), 67-70. Diary of Robert Laws. E. 62/15. Gen. 561-563, Drummond Room, University of Edinburgh, entry of 19 August 1878. He described Chikusi as having a bulk which surpassed any that Laws had seen in Africa. About two miles from Chikusi’s village was the village of `Gaomozi’, otherwise known as Chifisi. He notes that the brothers were at war because Chikusi refused to give help to Chifisi in his losing battle with the Yao chief Pemba. As to relative size, Laws felt that Chifisi’s village was larger and more compact.
30. Note Dr Laws’ explanation given later when kept waiting to see Mbelwa on one occasion. ‘We had to wait for some time to see him, that being a sign of willingness on his part to receive us. . .’ Laws, Reminiscences of Livingstonia, (1934)189.
31. Blantyre District Notebook, Vol. I, 1907. National Archives, Zomba.
32. Rev. David Clement Scott to Consul O’Neill, 8 September 1884, Accounts and Papers, 1884-1885, Vol. 73, 406-7, P.R.O.
33. Henry Henderson to Consul O’Neill, 7 September 1884; John Moir to Consul O’Neill 26 August 1884; Consul O’Neill to Earl Granville, 3 October, 1884, Accounts and Papers, Vol. 73, 406-7, P.R.O.
The Makwangwara was the name given to the Ngoni of Mhalule Gama and the remnants of the Maseko who did not return to Malawi but settled in Songea. In September, 1882 a large invading party attacked the U.M.C.A. mission at Masasi in spite of the efforts of the European missionaries to prevent it. Though no Europeans were killed, the mission property was utterly destroyed.
G. H. Wilson, The History of the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa, (London, 1936) Chapter XII ‘The Masasi Raid’, 56-9. As Consul in Mocambique, O’Neill must have been aware of this incident when his despatch was written.
34. Harkess, African Lakes Corporation to Dr Laws, 28 March, 1885, Missionary Letters, U.E.L.
35′ Monica Wilson, ‘Changes in social structure in Southern Africa: the relevance of kinship studies to the historian’ in L. M. Thompson, (ed.)
36. D. M. Manda, ‘The Ngoni-Tonga Conflict: causes and aftermath’, Chancellor College History Department Research paper, 1968-1969.
37. For the revolts, Mphande, C. Z., ‘Some Aspects of the History of the Tonga up to 1934’, History Seminar Paper, University of Malawi, Chancellor College, 1968-69; Saulos Nyirenda, ‘History of the TumbukaHenga People’, Bantu Stud., 5, 1931, 1-75; T. Cullen Young, 118-36, Chibambo, 43-9, and C. C. Chinula, `Baza’s rebellion’, The Livingstonia News, 15, 1928.
38 .James Stewart, C.E. to Dr George Smith, Foreign Secretary of the Free Church of Scotland, 31 December 1879 in Livingstonia Mission 1875-1900 kindly made available by Professor George Shepperson.
39. Elmslie, 95-8.
40. The first missionaries at Njuyu were William Koyi and James Sutherland. Walter Angus Elmslie arrived in 1884. Sutherland died on 29 September 1885 and Koyi died on 4 June 1886; his grave is in the neighbouring woods not far from the first mission. The first African converts in Ngoniland were Mawalero Tembo and Makara Tembo both of whom were baptized in 1890. (The first African to be baptized by the Livingstonia missionaries was Albert Namalambe in Bandawe in 1881. Namalambe spent most of his life in the Cape Maclear area.) The first women converts at Njuyu were Elizabeth Moyo, wife of Mawalero Tembo, and Ann Zivezah Sakara, wife of Chitezi Tembo, headman of Hoho village. Hoho village at Njuyu became the headquarters of the Nhlane family when they shifted from Kaning’ina shortly after 1879. The Livingstonia missionaries carried through the association with the Nhlane family now led by Ben Nhlane. Hence the meeting in 1881 at Hoho. In 1904 the Nhlane family shifted to Dwambazi which is the new Hoho.
41. The old Ekwendeni was nearer the Lunyangwa, about 1 1/2 miles away from the present Edwendeni. On the old site and about 50 yards from the Lunyangwa are a number of graves of some pioneers of mission work in the area; the Rev. George Steele, whose tombstone inscription reads : ‘Umfindisi wa Bangoni, Wazalwa November 30, 1861. Wafa June 26, 1895’; that of Ngoni historian and early minister, Rev. Yesaya Mlonyeni Chibambo, born 1887; died 6 August, 1943 ; that of Hezekiah Mavuvu ‘l’weya, one of the first three ministers of the Livingstonia Mission to be ordained in 1914; died November 16, 1930.
42. Laws, 181-3; Chibambo, 55-7; Elmslie, 101-4.
43.  Sutherland to Dr Laws, from Njuyu, 2 October, 1882 and 17 November, 1882, Missionary Letters. U.E.L.
44. Sutherland to Laws 29 September 1883. It is worth recording that in 1879 Jumbe offered Mbelwa an alliance to defeat the Tonga. Mbelwa asked the missionaries at Kaning’ina whether he should accept. The missionaries advised against it. Miller to Stewart, from Kaning’ina, 8 June 1879.
45. Sutherland to Laws, 12 March 1884. By now Mbelwa had granted permission to Koyi to preach in his village and Mtwalo’s head wife had expressed support for the Church. Peter McCallum to Dr Laws, 20 January, 1883.
46. George Williams to Dr Laws, December, 1884.
47. William Scott to Dr Laws 17 February 1885. M’mbelwa asked the missionaries for protection and even requested a revolver to be at his side at night. This the missionaries did not give him. Elmslie to Laws, 12 February 1885.
48. Elmslie to Dr Cross, 8 February 1886.
49. Elmslie to Laws from Bandawe, 10 May 1886.
50. Elmslie to Laws, 5 November 1886.
51. George Williams writing from Njuyu to Dr Laws, 2 October 1886.
52. In 1902 Hora Mission, which had opened in 1893, shifted to Luasozi about 21 miles from present Loudon Mission which was started by Fraser in 1903. Hoho village shifted to Dwambazi in present southern Mzimba in 1904. Here Simon Nhlane was chief. His brothers Yobe Nhlane and Daniel Nhlane later shifted in 1909 to Mirenje. These villages are in Inkosi Maulau’s area today.
53. Elmslie to Dr Laws, 12 December, 1886. The first school opened at Hoho village in Njuyu on 13 December 1883.
54. This section is based on a series of letters appearing under the classification of M.S. 7890 in the National Library of Scotland and detailed as follows: W. A. Elmslie to Laws 14 August 1887; 24 August 1887; 6 September 1887; 12 September 1887; 15 September 1887; 5 October 1887; 10 October 1887 and M.S. 7892. Elmslie to Dr Smith, 26 January 1889.
55. M.S. 7896. George Steele to Dr Laws from Njuyu, 31 January 1892.
56. Accounts and Papers, Vol. 78, 353-6, Consul Hawes to the Earl of Rosebery, 3 June and I July 1886. P.R.O.
57. Consul Hawes to Earl of Rosebery, 1 July 1886, Accounts and Papers, Vol. 78, 353-6. Hawes was very much impressed by the organization of the Chikusi state. ‘I was much struck by the respectful manner of the people I have met with in Angoni Land. The whole country is under perfect control, and the greatest respect is shown to the King and to all officials. To the King’s wives also the highest respect is shown on meeting them by kneeling down. This honour is paid not only by women and children but also by men.’
58. ‘Memorandum on the Administration of British Central Africa by a Chartered Company’. H. H. Johnston to Directors of the B.S.A. Company, 17 July 1890. F.O. 84/2052. P.R.O.
59. Report dated 17 March 1890, F.O. 84/2051.
60. Accounts and Papers, 1898, Vol. 58, Africa, Vol. 4, 1896, Correspondence respecting operations against slave-traders in B.C.A. c.7925, and c.8o13.
61. F.O. 84/2052, Alfred Sharpe’s treaties.
62. Accounts and Papers, 1892, Vol. 74 Africa No. 5, 1892.
63. Report by Commissioner Johnston of the First Three Years’ Administration of the Eastern Portion of British Central Africa, 31 March, 1894, Africa No. 6, (1894) 24.
64. Sharpe to Salisbury, 16 June 1896, F.O. 2/209.
65. M.S. 7879, National Library of Scotland, Dr Elmslie to Dr Smith 9 April 1896; 24 June 1896, and 22 July 1896.
66. Elmslie to Dr Smith, 24 June 1896.
67. This started at Mvera in 1889. Its headquarters shifted to Nkhoma in 1912. By 1896 it had posts at Mvera, Kongwe, Livlezi and Nkhoma. The first superintendent of the Mission was the Rev. A. C. Murray.
68. W. H. Murray to his father, 25 December 1895, gives an account of these events. I am grateful to the late Mr Lou Pretorius of Nkhoma Mission for showing me these letters and for assistance in the preparation of an article entitled ‘The Dutch Reformed Church Mission and Central Angoniland during the Turbulent Years, 1895-1896’. See also Mbiri ya Misyoni ya D.R.C. 48-52.
69. W. H. Murray to his parents, 4 May 1896 in which he notes that Codrington was building a house for himself near Chiwere’s much to the chief’s annoyance. On 30 June another letter states that the Ngoni, passive up till now, might ‘follow a different line’.
70. Murray, W. H., Op Pad (Suid—Afrikaanse Bybelvereniging, Cape Town, 1940) 82-3.
71. Murray, Op. Pad., 92. Murray had earlier extracted a promise from Codrington that no harm would come to Chiwere.
72. Diary of W. Gresham, Zambezi Industrial Mission, Ncheu District Notebook, Vol. I, 1907. National Archives, Zomba.
73. F.O. 2/209, folio 168-9 and Capt. Pearce to Alfred Sharpe 15 June 1899.
74. Fraser, Donald, Winning a Primitive People (London 1914), 239-44, and given in greater detail in Fraser, Agnes R., Donald Fraser, (London 1934), 64-9.
75. See, for example, The Nyasaland Times, 15 May 1950.
76. Aurora, 1 April, 1901.
77. C.O. 525/66. Governor Smith to Colonial Office, secret despatch of 17 January 1916.
78 Memorandum submitted by Mbelwa II to the Bledisloe Commission, 1938. For an interesting account of the continuing stability of Ngoni states in Malawi and Zambia before the advent of Europeans, see J. K. Rennie, `The Ngoni states and European Intrusion’, E. Stokes & R. Brown, (ed.), The Zambesian Past (Manchester University Press) 1965, 302-31.
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