Category Archives: M’Mbelwa

>Cullen Young, Yesaya Chibambo and The Ngoni

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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.
III

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.
Footnotes

 

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.

>Ngoni Politics and Diplomacy 1848 – 1904 (part 2)

>Ngoni Politics and Diplomacy 1848 – 19041 (Part 1)

Ngoni Politics and Diplomacy 1848 – 19041 (Part 1)

B. Pachai, Professor of History, University of Malawi, 1970
I
By 1904 the Ngoni of Malawi were widely distributed through a large part of the country with main and subsidiary settlements of both the Jere and Maseko communities or tribal clusters. These settlements had a number of common characteristics. The chiefs (with few exceptions) could all claim linear political descent from those who had led them through most of the way to the chosen land; they were now under British protectorate rule ; each main settlement had an administrative system with central authority, executive authority, military and judicial authority, all of which were subsequently modified to suit the protectorate government from time to time; each had started off with little more than a simple kinship organization with leadership provided by a determined individual of a well-known clan fleeing for safety and security with a hard core of kinsmen; each tribal cluster had to work out its own immediate political salvation during the period of dispersion or at the point of permanent settlement. The difference between these Ngoni and those of the Northern and Southern Nguni was that political evolution in the case of the former was based on trial and error tempered by a transference of ‘home’ patterns of government far removed in both space and time. Things not only happened quickly; they happened very far from `home’; they happened, too, without precedents at first. Before political patterns and social adjustments could evolve, external intrusions brought about compelling side-effects. In the end a political system emerged. Hammond—Tooke has defined a political system broadly ‘as the system of power-distribution in a society’.2 In looking at this power-distribution in the Ngoni society of Malawi a number of propositions constitute a good starting point.
How did the Ngoni leadership and its followers manage their affairs in IVIalawi after about a generation of trials and travels? When Zwangendaba died at Mapupo in Fipa country about 1848 he had already put together the nucleus of a state in which his senior kinsman, Ntabeni, junior kinsman, Mgayi and senior induna, Gwaza Jere, were placed in influential positions over his sons, and heirs to the Ngoni state, who ranged from about eight years of age to about fifteen years. Almost twenty years later, the Maseko Ngoni,who were led across the Zambezi and up to Songea by Mputa, came back to the Shire-Nyasa region under Mputa’s brother, Chidiaonga, and settled first near Matope, then at Domwe, and finally in the Ncheu region of Malawi among mainly Chewa-speaking peoples. Chidiaonga was the Maseko regent; Ntabeni, brother of Zwangendaba, was the Jere regent. The term regent as used here refers to a senior kinsman who assumed leadership as the successor had not come of age to assume the chieftainship.
It was the regencies which made the first impact. Their failures and successes were due in part to the personalities of the regents as well as to the various internal and external circumstances of the time. Had succession disputes not taken place, the Ngoni would have been a more formidable force against all contending parties. When the regents had played their parts, for better or for worse, another influence entered the lives of the Ngoni in the form of the missionary factor. A third influence was that represented by alien African cultural groups. This local African factor was an important determinant of Ngoni policy. Finally, a most pervasive external influence was present in the form of the British political administration.
This article aims at tracing the operation of the Ngoni diplomatic and political machinery in its handling of all these four factors or influences. The review helps to set the scene for the vigorous and varied roles played later by the two Malawi Ngoni paramountcies during the colonial period: the capture, deposition and exile of Chimtunga Jere; the assertive and unique role of the M’Mbelwa African Administrative Council; the firm stand in internal and external politics of the greatest of the successors of Zwangendaba, M’Mbelwa II (1928-59); the contribution of that arch opponent of Federation, Inkosi Philip Gomani II (1924-54) whose politics of dissent ended with a fate reminiscent of that which had visited his father in 1896.
The evidence for all this has been obtained from missionary records ; from official government despatches; from Ngoni historians; from African testimonies collected from the ruling and princely houses, as well as from non-Jere and non-Maseko Ngoni, and from Tumbuka, Tonga and Chewa peoples drawn into the arena of Ngoni politics. Because the Ngoni were an important political factor, the evidence is often coloured by what it hoped to achieve. At a given time Government administrators wanted to justify their attitudes and actions; missionaries had their own objectives; the ruling Ngoni classes had theirs; the affected African peoples reacted differently, depending on what hey hoped to achieve. The more powerful the political factor the greater the number of interested parties involved. Due allowance must be made for the motivation behind every bit of evidence and this applies equally to oral raditions and testimonies as to documentary sources.
II
Succession disputes in the case of both the Jere and the Maseko Ngoni have been treated by historians as moments of crises, as no doubt they were. These were due not to the absence of laws of succession but to different interpreta-tions placed on them by regents and indunas. Missionaries and colonial officials were often bewildered by the laws of succession, but the Ngoni, once all the interpretations had been submitted to the indaba or meeting and the roles of the holders of particular positions were explained and understood, took and accepted a decision. Besides their military prowess, the Ngoni are credited with the quality of being ‘a disciplined people under a central authority’.3 When this authority was questioned it was not that Ngoni society was disintegrating. Missionary letters give many instances of this. In 1884, for example, Mbelwa I would not allow the Livingstonia missionaries to call on his brother Mtwalo I because of some ‘misunderstanding between himself and his brother, partly because he keeps us to and for himself and won’t allow us to visit Mtwalo’.4 Two vears later the same chief found himself in a confrontation with his councillors. He was wise enough to recognize their strength and to propose concessions to the demands made to keep the missionaries out.5 These two illustrations show a strengthening of the Ngoni political machinery. There were many crucial issues which gave rise to the challenges to his authority which the Paramount had to contend with. These will be considered later. The point is that Ngoni discipline did not break down under the welter of a variety of changing situations represented either in succession disputes or in the growing political sophistication of his subjects.
The durability of the political structure would gain by an acceptable resolution of succession disputes. There were many factors which determined the process of succession. First, there was the royal village system which apportioned different functional roles to the gogo and the lusungulu villages or houses. These houses were occupied by different wives of the chief and it was the rank of the mother which determined the successor. In the case of the Jere Ngoni the same succession pattern applied to the paramount as to his subordinate kinsmen of the royal clan. The first wife of a ruler or heir was the senior in time but not in rank. She was the msulamizi, known more commonly in Northern Malawi as `muyesula msizi’—the redeemer. Her village (msizini) was the place of refuge for subjects in distress. She occupied the gogo house and had the function of being an important figure in the ceremonial and ritual life of the village. The lusungulu house was occupied by the chosen ‘big wife’ for whom lobola had been paid from the herd of the Queen Mother (the inkosikazi or main wife of the reigning paramount or chief who occupied the central but or indlunkulu in the village of her son, the heir). There were other criteria which the occupant of the lusungulu house had to satisfy. She had to come from an important home or be the daughter of a chief; she had to be a good wife, of good behaviour, who cared for her husband. She had to come from a family of means so as to provide for mungenisa khaya, the beer offering that had to be brought to the husband’s village from her parents’ village in order that she would gain entry into her new village (kungena khaya). She was to be in a position to ask her parents to offer gifts on the occasion of the birth of the first child (mbereko) and meat for consumption (dende) as well as for women retainers (vidandani)6. It was from the lusungulu house only that a heir was chosen.7
This brief account of the Ngoni succession pattern would help to explain why Mbelwa, the youngest of the contending sons of Zwangendaba, assumed the mantle of successor to the Jere paramountcy between 1855 and 1857 and Chikusi the mantle of the Maseko paramountcy between 1868 and 1870. Historians are not agreed as to the legitimate candidate for Zwangendaba’s throne. Cullen Young writes that Zwangendaba named Lomagazi as his successor and thus ‘actually appointed Mbelwa’. Lomagazi was Mbelwa’s elder sister and both were the children of Munene Mgomezulu. Since a daughter could not succeed, her full brother could step into the succession. Elmslie says that `Mtwalo should have been chief, but he resigned in favour of Mombera’. Mtwalo was the elder brother of Mbelwa and son of Qutu Mgomezulu, younger sister of Munene. Y. M. Chibambo notes that Zwangendaba chose Ngodoyi, Ntabeni’s son, and therefore his nephew ‘because he was well grown and intelligent’. Cullen Young’s further point against 1VItwalo’s accession was that ‘he failed to achieve his puberty at the expected time’. Mpezeni, the eldest son, and Mtwalo, the second son, have their champions and Barnes, reviewing all these, says that what was important was that ‘firstly there was a disputed succession, and secondly that present-day rival groups (i.e. in the 1940s) are still concerned each to show that its claimant was the legitimate heir’.8
On the face of it this was an inauspicious start to the Ngoni political history in the post-Zwangendaba period. None of the sons of Zwangendaba was old enough to be installed chief. Ntabeni was the undisputed senior kinsman and could assume the leadership temporarily. It was his politics that created a cleavage in Ngoni society. We have already noted the succession laws. To this information must be added the Ngoni custom that a chief was buried in the cattle fold of his inkosikazi in his lusungulu village. His son and successor could not be buried there as well because ‘only one bull may rule a herd’. Once a chief was buried in his lusungulu village its status was altered to that of gogo. It was here that his spirit was guarded and future ceremonials performed. Hlatshwayo, father of Zwangendaba, was buried at Elangeni; Zwangendaba was buried at Ekwendeni. Earlier on, two years before the Zambezi crossing, Zwangendaba’s lusungulu village was Emveyeyeni where his Nqumayo wives, the sisters Lompetu and Soseya, were placed. An unfortunate hair-in-the-beer incident led to the village being wiped out. Soseya was saved by a kindly act and kept in hiding until the birth of her son, Ntuto (Mpezeni). When he was some four years old Mpezeni and his mother were presented to a forgiving chief; they were allotted to the gogo village of Elangeni. The Mgomezulu sisters had in the interim occupied the new royal village or lusungulu; the senior was Munene. Her son was Mhlahlo (later Mombera, Mbelwa and M’Mbelwa). Mtwalo was the elder brother but the son of the junior Mgomezulu wife. He did not have to vacate his position as Elmslie has pointed out because ‘being of a quiet disposition.. (and because) he felt the burden of ruling such a jealous, discontented people as they had become would be too great for him’.9 His position and rank did not entitle him to undisputed succession.
The northern Ngoni were not a jealous people tottering on the brink of total collapse in 1848. Ntabeni’s policies very nearly led to that when he named Mpezeni as the heir; Mtwalo as second in line and banished Mbelwa and his mother from Ekwendeni to start a new village. Chibambo is clear on the point that it was Ntabeni alone who brought on the catastrophe which followed.
This was done by Ntabeni to bring shame on Munene. But we shall see that this brought trouble on the whole tribe and led to three or four secessions. When Zwangendaba changed the official head wife and the succession of Mpezeni, the royal house became, as we have seen, that of Munene. The first-born child here was a girl named Lomagazi, and because the Ngoni law does not permit a female to succeed, Mwambera the brother of Lomagazi had become Zwangendaba’s real heir, despite Ntabeni’s revengeful plans’.10
The decade after 1848 saw both a weakening and a strengthening of the Ngoni: four major groups were hived off; Ntabeni died. Mgayi and Gwaza took it in turn to bring the migrants to a settled home. Mbelwa was installed paramount chief of those Ngoni who were still part of the main host, in the Henga valley at Ng’onga, near present Phwampa in the Rumpi District on the road from Jakwa to Livingstonia, between 1855 and 1857. Rangeley describes this occasion as if it was pregnant with dire and explosive consequences, with the warring regiments armed to the teeth, ‘with sweating hands gripping the razor-edged Ijoyi, not knowing whether the outcome of the meeting would be bloody affray…’.11 The evidence points in the other direction. The man who had master-minded the details for the occasion was Gwaza Jere, Zwangendaba’s loyal induna. He had:’a few years before made Mpezeni chief of his segment at Makukwe near present Tukuyu in Tanzania. To prevent civil war from breaking out when Mpezeni returned to the main host at Chidhlodhlo, Gwaza led Mbelwa and Mtwalo across the Nyika into the Henga valley. Here he offered the chieftainship to Mtwalo who promptly and firmly declined it. Mtwalo then took the feathers of the uluvi bird, ‘which are worn only by the chief, and he strode out into the company, and stuck them on Mwambera’s head, saying, “I choose you as chief, tomorrow you may if you wish it, make an end of me”‘.12 The Gwaza stroke of diplomacy is clearly evident: he had earlier installed Mpezeni as chief of a group; he had then led the rest away from an explosive situation. The feathers of the uluvi bird were hidden on Mtwalo’s person for some use. The words by Mtwalo were the final stroke in a diplomatic coup that has since then paid off in keeping the peace between the two senior groups of the Jere hierarchy. This understanding between the Mbelwa and Mtwalo segments has been one of the strengthening features of Ngoni politics in Malawi.
One other development tended to further strengthen the northern Ngoni: this was the departure westwards of Zwangendaba’s eldest son Ntuto, more popularly known as Mpezeni. With him went along his younger brother Mperembe who after many exploits in Bemba and Bisa country returned to join the northern Ngoni in the 1870s. But Mpezeni never returned. He went on to settle in eastern Zambia from where his warriors raided deep into Malawi as far as the central lakeshore area. Two of his segments, led by the founders of the present Mlonyeni and Zulu chieftainships, settled at Mchinji on the Malawi-Zambia border. It is ironical that Mpezeni whose removal from the main Malawi Jere host did so much to prevent recurring friction between the sons of Zwangendaba was himself deposed in 1898 by troops from Malawi after his son, Singu, had led an abortive rising against the increasing European influences in his father’s new home.13
It is not possible here to deal with the succession episodes of the succeeding chiefs. It is sufficient for our purposes to say that when the successor to Mbelwa I was being chosen between 1891 and 1896 there were three candidates and a few complications. The spear at the graveside was held by a brother in the absence of an immediate resolution of the succession. When Mtwalo I died the holding of the graveside spear was entrusted to his son Yohane of the gogo house. There was again a case of lack of unanimity as to the rightful candidate but this was sorted out in a few years when the legitimate candidate was ready to assume his position. In 1915 the protectorate government deposed the northern Ngoni paramount chief; sent him in exile from Mzimba to Nsanje and only allowed him to return in 192o as a village headman. But throughout this period the northern Ngoni recognized him alone as their paramount chief. He died without being reinstated by the government but he was always the people’s paramount chief. All these situations were successfully counteracted because of the lessons of the past; the roles of regents and rulers and above all by a fundamental respect for ordered discussion and discipline.
In the central kingdom of the Maseko Ngoni the paramount chief did not share his authority with any other member of his clan, though two clans were placed in a special functional relationship to the paramount. The Phungwako clan was the custodian of the paramount’s ‘medicines’ and the Ngozo clan provided the paramount with a personal companion whom Margaret Read refers to as the royal shadow.14 The succession to the chieftainship derived from the inheritance which devolved upon the eldest son. Other criteria had to be satisfied: he should be the most suitable in the eyes of the people of the tribe; he had to be the son of a woman for whom dowry had been paid. He was nominated at a private meeting of principal and village headmen (later referred to as the alumuzana and the masenga). The nominated ruler was then presented to a public meeting where he was accorded the royal acclaim of Bayete. Mputa, the first Maseko paramount chief, had two important wives at Songea. The first wife was Namlangeni whose two children were Makwangwala (who was captured by the followers of Mhalule Gama after Mputa’s death and retained in Songea) and Manga who returned to Domwe under the regency of Mputa’s brother, Chidiaonga. The other was Nachikhumba, mother of Chikusi, who was the inkosikazi who later occupied the lusungulu village of Liwisini, east of the Kirk Range.
The Maseko chieftainship question was not a complicated one. From about 1855 to 1870 Chidiaonga brought his people back from Songea to Njowe near the Matope area of Chinamvuu and finally to Domwe. When Livingstone passed through the Kirk range area in 1863 he did not report on Ngoni devastations as he was to do in the case of his observations in the more northerly area. The Jere Ngoni were by then settled in the Henga and Kasitu valleys; the Maseko were not yet back from their return journey from Amatengo country. Chidiaonga successfully attacked the Yao under Kawinga at Kongwe and made a good collection of cattle. The Maseko power was consolidated by Chidiaonga who even pronounced on the chieftainship shortly before his death around 1876.
Now I leave this country in the hands of the owner, because I was only appointed to keep it for him. This is your leader”. He sent for Cikusi and gave him his father’s spear, saying to him. “This country is yours”. He said to Cifisi his own son, “You, my son, do not struggle with Cikusi. He is the only paramount here“.’
The respondent went on to describe what happened after Cidiaonga’s death.
‘Cidyawonga we did not burn because he had cared for the Paramountcy. And when Cidyawonga died we put Cikusi in his place’.15
Yet almost immediately afterwards, Chikusi and Chifisi were at war with each other. Why should this have happened? Most writers mention a disputed succession;16 that Chifisi claimed the throne. His descendants of the Kachindamoto family follow this tradition of explanation; the Gomani group do not see it as a disputed succession but put it down to a misunderstanding of the military role assigned to Chidiaonga and his successors, that of head of the mjokozera war division. It is true that at a later stage both groups sought alliances with the Yao, chiefly with Mponda, but as this was in the 1880s it does not explain the Chikusi-Chifisi cleavage of the 1870s. Could the rift have started fundamentally because the Maseko were becoming less Ngoni oriented and ostensibly over the burial question?
The Maseko was one of two Swazi clans who did not bury their dead but cremated them “on flat stones near flowing water, and as the fire reached the head of the deceased chief, it is stated that a bird, the umnguphane, sacred to the clan, rose phoenix-like from the flames’.17 The testimony cited earlier says `Cidyawonga we did not burn because he had cared for the Paramountcy’. Did this mean that he was not cremated because he was only a regent or that he was such a good regent that burial and not cremation was decided upon? It is clear that not to cremate was a slight to the Maseko of that period. W. P. Johnson gives a dramatic account of the cremation of the Maseko Paramount, Mputa, at Songea:
‘His funeral seems to have been the last united act of his people and the Angoni. It must have been impressive. They blocked the water of the upper Lihuhu with stones, put the body of the chief in the skin of a newly killed bull, and burnt it in the dry bed of the river. The Angoni stood in crowds on the banks, all silent till the heat of the fire made the bones of the corpse crack; then together they beat their shields with their spears.’18
The clashes took place mainly when chiefs died (Chidiaonga 1876, and Chikusi and Chifisi in 1891). When Chikusi, who succeeded to Chidiaonga’s position, died, he was cremated. This is, at least, a more plausible reason for enmity than the frivolous explanation in another context that the unequal sharing of game one day during the march southwards in the post-Zwangendaba period had led to Mpezeni and Mbelwa dividing up the Jere kingship.19
Unlike the case of the northern Ngoni, there is no evidence that the regent Chidiaonga was responsible for the feuds which rent the Maseko Ngoni after his death. The fact that he held the regency for over ten years in an area where the Mtunda, the Ambo and the Ntumba were willing and eager to be Ngoniized because of lack of defences against the invaders did not help in the preservation of Ngoni customs and speech. The retention of the war machine was all that was necessary. The ease with which conquest was achieved did not necessitate the strengthening and projection of the Ngoni image. The first Ngoni characteristic to be lost was language. When R. C. F. Maugham accompanied the expedition against Gomani in 1896 he reported that the Ncheu Ngoni were all speaking Chinyanja. In 1901 a District Resident in the area observed as follows:
‘I found then that the language of the Ncheu natives was entirely Chinyanja. A few natives could understand Zulu; they used some Zulu songs and many of them still retained the Zulu war dress which they elaborated with bead work and used for dances. There were no Zulu place names or personal names.’

The same resident had earlier been posted to Nkhata Bay in 1897 to start the West Nyasa District administration. Of that area he noted:
‘I found that Zulu was the language of Mbelwa’s country. The Atumbuka of course retained their own language but for the most part could understand Zulu. The place names of the villages of the important chiefs were Zulu. Each large chief had his impi of warriors in Zulu war dress. The paramount chief held his indabas in his great cattle kraal. He was always greeted with the Zulu salutation Bayete’ .20
A smaller original following, a long period in the wandering stage among non-warring peoples who were docile and receptive, caused the language of the Maseko to go first. The succession dispute following Chidiaonga’s death must have gained from both the burial episode and from Chifisi’s belief, in largely non-Ngoni setting, that his direct filial descent combined with the long period of his father’s regency entitled him to compete in the succession stakes when Chidiaonga died.21
That was the first time when the Maseko throne was competed for by the descendants of both Mputa and Chidiaonga. Chikusi got the position through the laws of Ngoni inheritance by which his house stood in the direct line of succession. He was supported by Chifisi on this occasion and for a number of years the Ngoni factions lived in peace with Chifisi enjoying the position of military leader of the mjokozera war division. The intrusion of the Yao factor was in time to lead to disruption of this harmony. When Kawinga from Mt Chikala attacked Pimbi’s people in the Upper Shire, a place not far from the Maseko settlement, the Maseko answered Pimbi’s summons for assistance and repulsed,Kawinga in a united action.22 A few months later developments among the Mponda Yao were to lead to ultimate division within the Maseko ranks. In July, 1889 the ruling Mponda died and a dispute over the succession broke out. Malunda, the elder of the two sons of the late Mponda, looked around for alliances to overthrow the newly-installed chief. Liwonde and Kawinga responded; Chikusi refused.23 This earned him the gratitude of the ruling Mponda for future advantage. The attempt failed but it was the beginning of the rift between Chikusi and Chifisi as it afforded each the opportunity of ready-made rival camps in any future conflict. The opportunity came in 1891 when Chifisi died. Chikusi demanded the privilege of arranging for the funeral but this Chifisi’s successor, Kachindamoto, refused; the indecisive battle of Mwala wa Nkhondo followed even before Chifisi was buried. In the same year. Chikusi died and this time it was Kachindamoto’s turn to attack Chikusi’s successor, Gomani. After a series of campaigns which lasted three years and in which the fortunes of war fluctuated, Gomani’s forces were victorious. The decisive battle of Mlomo wa Nkhuku on Dedza plateau spelt the end of the unity of the Maseko kingdom of Mputa. The assistance which Gomani received from the Yao of Tambala and Mponda no doubt contributed to his victory. Territorial spheres of influence were demarcated with Gomani holding sway from Domwe to Lizulu and Kachindamoto to the north-east from Ntakataka to the lakeshore. Captain Edwards of the Protectorate armed forces sealed the peace pact between the descendants of Mputa and Chidiaonga in 1894 in true British fashion by making Gomani and Kachindamoto shake hands in public. The royal salute of Bayete and with it the position of paramount chief remained in the keeping of the Mputa line.24
Fission of the two main groups had now taken place introducing permanent peace between them. Thereafter each followed its own way in all social and political affairs. Where larger issues of Maseko import were concerned the Mputa line as the keeper of the royal inheritance took precedence. When Chikusi of the Mputa line died in 1891, there were two candidates from this line from among the six sons of Chikusi (Nkwaila, Zintambira, Kabango, Ziwisani, Gomani and Mandala). By now the house system of residence and inheritance was declining. Primogeniture was the first qualification. This Mandala satisfied but the selection councils found that two other qualifications were not met, viz., the dowry question and the candidate’s suitability on the grounds of character, temperament and personal relationship with subjects.25 The Alumuzana and Masenga councils ruled in favour of Gomani (Chatamtumba). One testimony points to Gomani’s victory at a public trial when the two candidates were made to stand each on one leg with the other foot resting on the knee, for the period of the cremation of Chikusi’s body.26 What is not disputed is that there were two candidates and that Gomani was adjudged to be the more suitable. Mandala is mentioned in the diplomatic intrigues which followed in the ensuing Gomani-Kachindamoto wars. He is reported to have entered into secret negotiations with Kachindamoto and Bvumbwe to wrest the throne but the plot does not appear to have succeeded. Bvumbwe fled southwards and Mandala relented. Mandala’s championship of the Gomani cause is listed as a decisive factor against Kachindamoto and his more substantial role was yet to be played when Gomani was killed in October 1896.
When Gomani I was shot by British troops at Dombole his son and heir, Zitonga, was two years old. He was born in the lusungulu village of Chikusi at Lizulu where the Queen Mother, Mai Namagagula presided. For a short while two regencies were set up comprising Gomani’s wife, Namlangeni and his brother, Mandala. This was short lived because, when a border commission delimited the Portuguese and British territories, Namlangeni and Mandala fled to the Portuguese side of the kingdom. Here they tried to raise an army but failed and the immediate members of the Gomani family were all arrested. They included Namlangeni, and the brothers Mandala, Nkwaila, Zintambira, Ziwisani and Kabango. Except for Zintambira who later returned to head the Maseko kingdom in Portuguese territory (where his descendant today holds the imposing but powerless title of king of Angonia) the rest died in captivity. It was only in 1906 that the headmen detained with them were released and allowed to return to both the Portuguese and British sides of Central Ngoniland. An interregnum existed between 1896 and 1921 during which the great mulumuzana or headman Chakumbira Ndau assisted by Mambeya Moyo looked after the affairs of the Gomani state. Zitonga received a European-style education through the sponsorship of a European friend of his late father, a hunter by the name of Walker. Zitonga succeeded to the Maseko paramountcy as Inkosi Gomani II in 1921.27
In spite of the succession disputes, and partly because of them, the inheritors of the mantles of Zwangendaba and Mputa weathered the storms of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in admirable fashion. The system would have collapsed had its custodians been less resilient.
FOOTNOTES
1.This article is part of a larger study on the Malawi Ngoni for which I have received financial assistance from the University of Malawi with a small grant from the British Council. I wish to express my deep appreciation to them. In the field I have received assistance from the Paramount chiefs of the Jere and Maseko Ngoni, their amakosana and representatives; from District Commissioners and a whole host of informants at village levels.
Mr Petros Moyo, Ngoni historian himself, accompanied me on many trips. I am grateful, too, for the opportunity to research in the Public Record Office, the British Museum, the Royal Commonwealth Society Library, the National Library of Scotland, the Church of Scotland Library, the Malawi Society Library and the National Archives, Zomba. The Librarian and his staff at the University of Malawi, Chancellor College, have been of greater help than I can acknowledge. I am grateful, too, for the helpful comments received from Professor Margaret Read, who pioneered studies on the Malawi Ngoni.
2. Hammond-Tooke, D., ‘The “other side” of frontier history; a model of Cape Nguni Political Progress’, in Thompson L. (Ed.) African Societies in Southern Africa (Heinemann, 1969) 235.
3. Fraser, Donald, Winning a Primitive People, (London 1914) 29.
4. George Williams to Dr Laws, December 1884. Missionary Letters, University of Edinburgh Library.
5. George Williams to Laws, 7 October 1886, U.E.L.
6. Research interviews conducted by Duncan I Nkhoma in the area of the Mzukuzuku chieftainship, 1968-9. Testimonies of Rev. P. Ziba, Rev. Charles C. Chinula, Petros Hlanzo Moyo.
7. For the village system and marriage customs of the Ngoni and Swazi see also Read, Margaret, The Ngoni of Nyasaland (London, 1955) 20—I and 48-9 and Kuper, Hilda, An African Aristocracy (London 1965), 54-5 and 92-4.
8. Young, Cullen, T., Notes on the History of the Tumbuka-Kamanga Peoples (London, 1932) 113-17; Elmslie, W. A., Among the Wild Ngoni, (London 1899) 27; Chibambo, Y. M., My Ngoni of Nyasaland (London n.d.) 27; Barnes, A. J., Politics in a Changing Society, (London 1934) 21.
9. This evaluation belies the undoubted success of the Mtwalo chieftainships in the villages of Ekwendeni, Ezondweni, Emanqalingeni and Emchayachayeni. Mtwalo I ruled his own village from about 1855 until he died in October, 1890. His successor and son Muhawi Amon Mtwalo was born in 1873 at Uswesi, east of Coma Mountain. He was installed chief on 15 June 1896 and after a very long and successful period of rule he died at Ezondweni on 1 April 1970, having been in office for 74 years. A fuller account of Mtwalo II and M’Mbelwa II is under preparation.
10. Chibambo, 28-9.
11. Rangeley, W. H. J., `Mtwalo’, Nyasa. .7., 5 (r), 1952, 64.
12. Chibambo, 34-5.
13. T. W. Baxter, ‘The Angoni Rebellion and Mpezeni’, N. Rhodes. .7., xi, 1950, 14-24. Mpezeni was reinstated after being in exile for a year. He died on 21 October 1900. The brother who had accompanied him away from Malawi, Mperembe, died in October, 1909 and was the last of the sons of Zwangendaba.
14. Read, 61.
15. Read, 55.
16. Read, 55.
17. Kuper, 86, fn.’.
19. Field, Annis, S., Visiilano, (1940) 16.
20. Cardew, A. C., the Resident, commenting in a letter to Ian Nance, District Commissioner, 8 November 1952. Cardew noted the testimony of an old man named Yakobe who was born about the time Chidiaonga arrived at Domwe about 1870. Yakobe obtained the information, which he passed on, from his parents and others who would have had first-hand knowledge of the position. `Yakobe says that when Chidiaonga Maseko arrived at Domwe the natives of the Ncheu District were Amalawi, Ambo and Ancheu. These people never learnt Chingoni. When Chidiaonga came he made war upon them and subdued them and ruled them from Domwe. He raided them occasionally for recruits for his army, slaves, wives, etc., but even people thus captured did not learn Chingoni. He did not put indunas in the Ncheu District and the Angoni did not settle in the District. He merely ruled the District from Domwe sending warriors to enforce his orders when necessary.’ Cardew to Rangeley, so December 1952, Rangeley Papers M.S. of the Society of Malawi. These Papers are being edited by the writer by direction of the Society of Malawi.
21. One tradition states that Chidiaonga betrayed Mputa in the struggle with the Mhalule Gama in Songea and was responsible for Mputa’s death, after which he seized the chieftainship. Chifisi’s claim to succeed would be strengthened by this seizure.
22. Acting Consul Buchanan to Marquis of Salisbury, 29 January 1889. Accounts and Papers, Vol. 72, 1889, 285. P.R.O.
23. Accounts and Papers, Vol. 72, 213-14. The old Mponda who had ruled from 1886-89 had found it convenient to pay tribute to Chikusi as a guarantee for immunity against Ngoni raids. Hanna, A. J., The Beginnings of Nyasaland and North-Eastern Rhodesia, 1859-1895, (Oxford, 1956) 73. On page 186 Hanna notes that from 1889 to 1891 there had been sporadic fighting between Mponda and Chikusi’s Angoni. This could only refer to the support which was being given by different groups in the Chikusi kingdom to the factions which existed in the Mponda chieftainship.
24. Dedza District Notebook, Vol. I, 1907 and the Ncheu District Notebook, Vol. I, 5907, National Archives, for the details of the conflict.
The Manser-Bartlett Papers in the University of Malawi Library refer to the conflict and follow closely the version in the above named District Notebooks. The late Mr Bartlett must have referred to them. The information has been supplemented by personal interviews conducted in the Gomani and Kachindamoto areas.
25. Ncheu District Notebook Vol. I, 1907 records that Mandala, the eldest son of Chikusi, was passed over as the headmen considered him of too fierce and turbulent a nature to hold sway over them, for they were afraid that he would oppress and even slay some of his own people; Chatumtumba on the other hand, was of a milder disposition, and on that account found favour with them.’ N.A.Z.
26. This contest is not borne out by a testimony recorded by Margaret Read, which nevertheless gives details of Gomani ‘standing on one leg with a shield in his hand’. Read, 57.
27. I am grateful to Inkosi Willard Gomani III and to his court historian, Bambo Kaizokaya Dolozi, for some of the details on which this section is based.

War Songs of the Ngoni People

By Margaret Read. It also includes youtube videos and some explanations provided by the moderator of this blog.

To the Ngoni war was man’s work. Throughout their history as a separate people they were a nation under arms, and on the success of their arms depended their existence as conquerors. Their life was organised in every detail to make them efficient as warriors, and in the preparations for war, songs and dances played an essential part. There was one group of war songs, imigubo, sung before going out to fight, another, imihubo, sung on the return from the war. The imigubo are danced today in Gomani’s country in full war dress with shields and spears, and only in the Paramount’s village, the place of mobilisation of the army in the old days. The Ngoni women join in the dance, some inside the circle of men, some outside, and the tempo of the dance works up and up as it did in old days to inspire men with the lust of battle.

It is in the group of war songs that I have found those which are common both to Gomani’s and M’mbelwa’s country, and which therefore point to a common source in the south. Though the songs appear brief in their wording, much of the tune is sung to ‘sounds’ such as inyo ho, zi, oya ye yayo, and accompaniment is varied with stamping the feet and knocking the shields either with spears or against the knees.

The following five songs are common to both Ngoni areas. The next five songs (6 to 10) are selected as typical of songs.

(1) Ngoni:

Ay’ inkosi yadinga ngomkhonto
Mbayekeyani na?
Hay’ inkosi yadinga yomkhonto
Mbayekeyani na?

English:

No chief can be poor because of the spear 1
Then why are you running away?

Moderator’s comment: The following is possibly another version of the same song. It was sung in 1958 by Robert Golozera, three elderly women and Inkosi Njolomole. Only the first sentence appears the same apart from the last word of that line. Instead of ngomkhonto the singers use the word mhla. Below is a youtube version of this version with a picture of Inkosi yamakhosi Chikusi as I could not get the picture of the singers. Just below the video I have tried to transcribe the words of the song. Enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/v/CoiShp1j1H4&hl=en&fs=1

e nkosi
Ay’inkosi yadinga mhla
yadinga mhla.
ee nkosi
Ay’ inkosi yadinga mhla
elelele
Ay’ inkosi yadinga ngo mhla
Bayaphela makhosi
Ay’inkosi yadinga mhla yadinga mhla
Nkosi yethu
Ay’ inkosi yadinga mhla
yadinga mhla
nayo nkosi yethu
Ay’inkosi yadinga mhla

(2) Ngoni:

Uyezwa?
Umngoni uvela enzansi2
Uyezwa?
Uyezwa zi
Zi.

English:

Do you hear?
The Ngoni comes from the south-east.

(3) Ngoni:

Inkomo yami na
Ye Somfuya
Inkomo yami na
Ye Somfuya
Wadl’inkomo zabayeka
Ye ye Somfuya.

Alternative version:

May’ inkomo yami na
E kuboNdleya
Inkomo yami na
Ye Somfuya
Owadla’inkomo zabayeka
Ye ye Somfuya

English:

Is it my beast?
Yes Somfuya
He ate the cattle. They ran away.

(4) Ngoni:

I i i
Sibangani?
Sibangani?
Njenje phezulu?
I i i
Oyi oyi oyi!
Lilanga liyashona
I i i
sibangani?
Sibangani?
Njenje phezulu?
I i i
Oyi oyi oyi!

Alternative version:

I i i
Kubangwani? Ho
Kubangwani? Ho
Kubangw’ ilang’ eliphezulu
Ho yoya
Inyo inyo inyo i
Hoyawonje liyashona
A ho a ho
Kubangwani?
Kubangwani?
Kubangw’ilang’ eliphezulu
I i i
Oyi oyi oyi!

English:

What are we contending for?
In this way in the sky
The sun is setting.

Alternative version English:

What is contended for ?
For the sun is in the sky
It is setting

(5) Ngoni:

O may’ inkosi zi ha ho
O sibangel’ inkosi yethu nje

English:

O alas ! the chief
We fight for our chief, only that.

(6) Ngoni:

Ngagoba ngangoba ngigobele UZwidi
Kunjani-nje, Kunjani-nje?
Ngibengigobel’ Uzwidi kaLanga
Inyo i inyo
Kunjani nje, kunjani nje?
Ngibengijiyel’ ukulala
Inyo i inyo i
Kunjani-nje Kunjani-nje?
Izidikalala zemizi yabo
Inyo i inyo i
Kunjani-nje, kunjani-nje?
Manxeba emikhonto
Enyi i enyi i
Kunjani nje kunjani nje?

English:

I have waited, I have waited, Iam waiting for Zwidi
How? just how?
I have been waiting for Zwidi son of Langa.
I have been longing for sleep.
The tremendous size of their villages3
The wounds of the spears.

(7) Ngoni:

Bayakhuluma Bayakhuluma
Izwe lonke
Muyezwa muthule muthi du
Bayakhuluma
Kuyakhulunywa kuyakhulunywa
Izwe lonke
Longiyeka uhlale uthi du
Kuyakhulunywa bantu
4

English:

They are talking they are talking
Throughout the land
Listen keep silent be still
They are talking
It will be spoken it will be spoken
Throughout the land
Longiyeka you keep silent you be still
People are being talked about.

(8) Ngoni:

Zemuka inkomo magwala-ndini
Naziya zemuka magwala-ndini
Inkomana zemuka na? zemuka magwala-ndini
Ubujaha buphelile na, zemuka hi ha o ho
Nihlala nemijingathi zemuka e he he
Hayi nkomo zemuka na zemuka hi ho
Nilibele namabele, zemuka o ho ho
5

English:

The cattle run away you cowards.
Those yonder; they run, you cowards.
The cattle, see, do they run? They run, you cowards.
Is your young manhood over? They run,
You are left with the carriers. They run,
Look the cattle run, they run,
You have eyes only for the foodstuffs. They run.

(9) Ngoni:

Asazi asazi
Asazi asazi ezweni lomfo
Asazi thina.
Ingani uyazishuka?
Asazi thina
Ulibele uyazishuka
Ulibele uyazishuka ezweni lomfo
Asazi thina.

English:

We do not know
We do not know in the lands of the serfs
We do not know, we ourselves
Why do you trouble yourself?
You are troubled for nothing
You are troubled for nothing in the land of the serfs,
we do not know even we.

(10) Ngoni:

Hayo hayo hayo
Thina siyanda lizwe
Elele zi a ho
Siyabuya kuneBonga
O uhlaya uMaphikenkani6
Sabuya kuneBonga
O kusale amaphik’inkani6
Elele zi a ho

English:

We follow the country
We are returning from Bonga
You remain you do not yield
We have returned from Bonga
There remain those who have not yielded.

From the Moderator: The following is a Mgubo dance song sung after hunting a leopard or lion. It was recorded in Mzimba district in the 1940s. It is one of my favourite ngoni songs. I hope to get the words of this beautiful piece. If you happen to know the words please email me so that others can be blessed by this beautiful piece of Ngoni music. The Ngoni had a rich culture of music which we appear to have lost, please let us revive it.

http://www.youtube.com/v/iUBUU-ctAP4&hl=en&fs=1

Below is another Mgubo from Mzimba

http://www.youtube.com/v/MDRMr6libuE&hl=en&fs=1

And another one from Ntcheu, ‘Buyani Sangweni’ (Come or Return to the Gate)This song was recorded in Ntcheu, Malawi. It was sung by group of elderly ngoni men from Chief Njolomole’s area in 1958.

http://www.youtube.com/v/7ScN4ZLtgfU&hl=en&fs=1

Footnote

1. A reference to the probable loss of warriors in the coming fight.

2. Alternative reading: Lomngoni owaye enzansi.

3. Isidakalala is a very big village with many izigawa or hamlets contained in it.

4This is one of the best known songs in M’mbelwa’s country. The tune is used as a hymn tune, as are also may others.

5. This is a war song sung women, deriding the men to do great deeds. They would see herds of cattle being driven away hastily in villages passed on the march, and would sing this song to persuade the army to go after them.

6. Used by warriors to express their determination to die rather than yield to the enemy.

War Songs of the Ngoni People

By Margaret Read. It also includes youtube videos and some explanations provided by the moderator of this blog.

To the Ngoni war was man’s work. Throughout their history as a separate people they were a nation under arms, and on the success of their arms depended their existence as conquerors. Their life was organised in every detail to make them efficient as warriors, and in the preparations for war, songs and dances played an essential part. There was one group of war songs, imigubo, sung before going out to fight, another, imihubo, sung on the return from the war. The imigubo are danced today in Gomani’s country in full war dress with shields and spears, and only in the Paramount’s village, the place of mobilisation of the army in the old days. The Ngoni women join in the dance, some inside the circle of men, some outside, and the tempo of the dance works up and up as it did in old days to inspire men with the lust of battle.

It is in the group of war songs that I have found those which are common both to Gomani’s and M’mbelwa’s country, and which therefore point to a common source in the south. Though the songs appear brief in their wording, much of the tune is sung to ‘sounds’ such as inyo ho, zi, oya ye yayo, and accompaniment is varied with stamping the feet and knocking the shields either with spears or against the knees.

The following five songs are common to both Ngoni areas. The next five songs (6 to 10) are selected as typical of songs.

(1) Ngoni:

Ay’ inkosi yadinga ngomkhonto
Mbayekeyani na?
Hay’ inkosi yadinga yomkhonto
Mbayekeyani na?

English:

No chief can be poor because of the spear 1
Then why are you running away?

Moderator’s comment: The following is possibly another version of the same song. It was sung in 1958 by Robert Golozera, three elderly women and Inkosi Njolomole. Only the first sentence appears the same apart from the last word of that line. Instead of ngomkhonto the singers use the word mhla. Below is a youtube version of this version with a picture of Inkosi yamakhosi Chikusi as I could not get the picture of the singers. Just below the video I have tried to transcribe the words of the song. Enjoy.

Footnote

1. A reference to the probable loss of warriors in the coming fight.

2. Alternative reading: Lomngoni owaye enzansi.

3. Isidakalala is a very big village with many izigawa or hamlets contained in it.

4This is one of the best known songs in M’mbelwa’s country. The tune is used as a hymn tune, as are also may others.

5. This is a war song sung women, deriding the men to do great deeds. They would see herds of cattle being driven away hastily in villages passed on the march, and would sing this song to persuade the army to go after them.

6. Used by warriors to express their determination to die rather than yield to the enemy.

Mtwalo

By W. H. J. Rangeley
This article is based entirely on information given to the author by numerous Africans, with the following exceptions:
(1) The site of the battle between Zwide and Shaka is no longer remembered by the Ngoni and is quoted from “Olden Times in Zululand and Natal” by A. T. Bryant. Bryant says that Nxawa was one of the Mbekwane clan. The Ngoni say he was Nqumayo. Bryant is more likely to be correct. So also quoted is the route east of the Lubombo hills. The Ngoni merely record that they went north to the lower reaches of the Limpopo river. Bryant states (chapter 44) that Zwangendawa was “but a commonplace squire at home”. The Ngoni agree that he was of humble birth but insist that he rose to be General of Zwide’s army. The fact that Zwide gave him two daughters in marriage would indicate that Zwangendawa was a man of importance. Bryant states that Zwangendawa clashed in battle with Soshangane (chapter 44) With heavy losses on both sides. The Ngoni admit heavy losses in battle against Nxawa, and the names of many who died are remembered to this day, but they deny any clash with Soshangane. There is, however, evidence that there was a minor clash with Soshangane, according to Ngoni now dead.
(2) The date of the crossing of the Zambezi river was November 19, 1835 (page 11 of “The Native Tribes of the East Luangwa Province of Northern Rhodesia”, by E. H. Lane Poole), but according to Cullen Young, November 20, 1835 (page 110 “History of the Tumbuka-Kamanga People). Nearly all the Ngoni names for the twelve months of the year correspond to manifestations of Nature.
(3) By many accounts, Munininkonzo Mngomezulu is correctly Mnenekohlo; that is, Mnene the ikohlo wife, which title infers that normally she would hear the Chief’s heir and would therefore be head of the Lusungulu or ikohlo house.
(4) The Ngoni words and names used are those used by the Ngoni. The letters “q” and ”x” represent clicks. It so happens that in this article no need arises to use a word in which the click represented by the letter “c” is used (usage in South Africa—see page IX of “Introduction to Zulu-English Dictionary” by Doke and Vilakazi). The letter “c” therefore represents the former “ch” as agreed by international Convention.
(5) Some difficulty arises over the use of the “w” or “b” where it represents that sound now represented by international Convention as a “b” with a curl at the top—not found in normal typewriters or in most printing works; for instance the “w” or “b” of the name Wemha or Bemba. In this article, for the sake of uniformity, the “w” is used; for instance, the last “w” in Zwangendaba is sometimes spelled Zwangendaba and represents that difficult sound to print.
The bulk of the earlier part this article confirms from living informants the story of the Ngoni given by Cullen Young and Lane Poole, and adds some more information. It differs only in minor detail, except for the defection of the Ngoni of the present day Chief Gomani.
A few further points—We are indebted to the journals of Dr. Livingstone for a statement that he found the Ngoni already in occupation of the hills above Nkata Bay in 1860 and the evidence of their raids on the Lake
shore. The later dates given in the article are given by living Africans–a most remarkable tribute to the education given them by the Church of Scotland missionaries more than fifty years ago.
This is a very condensed article on the Ngoni, designed to draw the attention of such people as may be interested to the fact that Mtwalo II and his wife Emily Nhlane are still living vital personalities and, through this article, to pay the great respect of those who know them to two fine gentlefolk.
——————————-
ZWANGENDAWA was leader of the Ngoni peoples, a war-like well-knit band of men and women, no more than a few hundred in number, who fled northwards from the green and rolling hills of Natal in about 1822, desperately seeking to evade the regiments of Shaka, of the Zulu clan. Zwangendawa himself was of the Jele clan, one of the Mbo peoples of Nguni stock—”our home was Embo, between the White Imfolozi and the Black Imfolozi”—as a few old men remember to this day that their fathers told them. Zwangendawa was a noted warrior, and had risen to great fame as Isindunayeziimpi, general of the regiments, under Zwide, of the Nqumayo (or, as some Ngoni say, of the Nxumalo) clan, whose army Shaka smote to destruction in the valley of the Mhlatuze River in Natal. Fleeing northwards, Zwangendawa gathered followers of Ntungwa, Swazi and Sutu clans—Mawaso, Siwande, Siula and a score or more of others— and travelling along the thick bush of the sea coast east of the Lubombo Hills, he fell upon the Thonga peoples about the lower reaches of the Limpopo River, whose descendants now remember their fathers saving they were “Vacopi”.
Gathering strength in numbers as he incorporated young men and women in the band, Zwangendawa, turning inland, moved into the high inland plateau of what is now Matabeleland in Southern Rhodesia, and for a while halted to pillage and destroy the Karanga and Lozi inhabitants of that country, incorporating not a few of their men and women into the Ngoni regiments and villages. While in this country, shortly after Zwangendawa began again to move to the north, there hived off one Ngwana, of the Maseko clan, an Induna of a Karanga serf regiment, to join that inveterate rival of Zwangendawa, namely Nxawa, of the Nqumayo clan, also a refugee from the regiments of Shaka, on his way north seeking lands in which to settle. Not long after, Nxawa, aided by Ngwana, fell upon the women and cattle of Zwangendawa while the men of Zwangendawa were out ahead leading the tribe on the march, and inflicted upon them very heavy casualties. The men of Zwangendawa were able to recapture their cattle, after inflicting salutary punishment on Nxawa, and to bury their wives and children, but nearly all the children of Zwangendawa were lost, and he was left with but few Nguni wives to raise new seed.
Moving onwards to the north, the tribe of Zwangendawa crossed the Zambezi River in November, 1835, in the month of “Etshiganyane Etshikulu”, when the Kaumbu trees are red with leaf, and the gum glistens on the bark. By tradition, the waters of the Zambezi were struck with a rod and dried up to allow the host to pass. More matter of fact, we learn that Zwangendawa and some of the izinduna crossed (very terrified, no doubt) in the canoes of Kaimbwa, while the main host forded the river above a living chain formed by the tall and very black Thonga, who did not fear water as the Nguni did.
With halts for a few years each at the headwaters of the Nvimba River, on the borders of what is now the Petauke District of Northern Rhodesia and Portuguese East Africa (which the Ngoni refer to as Mkoko, then the Nsenga headman of that part), and again at the Mawili pools on the upper Lukulu River, a few miles from the Loudon Mission in the Mzimba District of Nyasaland, the Ngoni moved northwards seeking Mapupo—The Land of Dreams—where lived the red cattle that were there but for the taking, as excited scouts returned to report.
Circa 1842
At Mapupo, some forty-five miles north-east of the modern Abercorn in Nothern Rhodesia, not far from where Mwazye Mission now stands in Tanganyika, and near the Msega Stream, in about 1842 Zwangendawa died, but not before, so it is said, he had prophesied that white men would lower the Nguni spear, and the names of the age-group regiments become but a memory. According to the custom of his fathers, Zwangendawa, broken at the knees, was wrapped in the baglike fresh-flayed hide of a bull and buried deep in a cavern underground in the great cattle fold of Ekwendeni village.
Zwangendawa had no grown sons to succeed him. In keeping with Nguni custom, he had but late in life taken an Inkosikazi or Queen to bear an heir. Zwide Nqumayo had given two daughters to his war leader to be his brides, Lompeto and Soseya of the Nqumayo clan they were, or, as some say, of the Nxumalo clan. These brides he placed in the village of Emyuyeni. Lompeto was barren, and to her sister, Soseya, fell the duty of providing a son in the name of Lompeto, and somewhere in the Lozi country of Southern Rhodesia, whose chief was Cangamile, was born to Soseya a son, Sabangwa, better known as Ntuto.
By many accounts, Lompeto was not the first Inkosikazi of Zwangendawa. He had chosen Munininkonzo, of the Mngomezulu clan who hail from the Lubombo Hills, to be his Inkosikazi, and had placed her in Ekwendeni Village (“there where they get married”), and when Lompeto and Soseya had arrived from Zwide he had placed them in the Lusungulu Village (“that which breaks away”—i.e. goes with the heir to the chiefdom) of Emvuyeni. Zwide had objected, and requested Zwangendawa to appoint Lompeto his Inkosikazi, and Zwangendawa had accordingly demoted Munininkonzo, and granted to Lompeto and Soseya their own village of Emveyeyeni, styling Lompeto Inkosikazi. To many it seemed there were now two Inkosikazi. The matter was to be settled soon. One day, while the Ngoni were still in Southern Rhodesia, while Zwangendawa was living at his village of Emsizini, where lived his wives Ncikazana, Kungakile, Lozindawa and Mcobisa, all of the Madhlopa clan, the village of Emveyeyeni sent beer for the chief, brewed by Lompeto and Soseya. One of the Emsizini wives saw the beer when it arrived, and, being jealous of the Nqumayo women and wishing to do them harm, quietly and unobserved dropped some human hairs in the pot of beer. In due course the beer was brought to Zwangendawa, and he and his elders began to pass the pot around, when lo!, there they saw human hairs floating in the brew. Angrily, Zwangendawa inquired who had sent the beer, and so wished to bewitch him. Hearing it was from Emveyeyeni, he accused the daughters of Zwide of plotting to destroy him by witchcraft, and he forthwith ordered them to be killed, the village broken up, and all the people, cattle and goods divided to other villages, (he himself to receive the major share of the cattle). The order of Zwangendawa was quickly carried out, Lompeto was killed, but Soseya was found to be pregnant, and Gwaza, cousin of Zwangendawa, who was in charge of the party, took her and hid her in his village, duly reporting to Zwangendawa that both women were dead and Emveyeyeni no more. In due course, Soseya gave birth to Sabangwa, otherwise known as Ntuto, a boy who was carried across the Zambezi River on the back of his mother. Not until Ntuto was about four years of age did Gwaza one day disclose to Zwangendawa that indeed Soseya was alive and had a son and heir to the chiefdom. Zwangendawa was in a good mood. He forgave Gwaza, welcomed Soseya, and to Ntuto he gave a sporran that he might hide his childish nakedness. Further, he ordered Emveyeyeni to be rebuilt and Soseya installed therein, and, by some few accounts, he reappointed Lompeto, through her deputy Soseya, to be Inkosikazi, and thereby nominated Ntuto to be his heir. Meanwhile, when Zwangendawa had ordered the bad memory of Emveyeyeni to be erased, he had appointed (or re-appointed, depending which story one follows) Munininkonzo to be Inkosikazi. She was barren and appointed her sister Viyakazana, better known as Munene, to be her seed-bearer. Both, together with their sister Qutu and other wives of Zwangendawa, lived in Ekwendeni Village. While the Ngoni were halted at Mkoko, there was born to Qutu Mngomezulu a son they named Mtwalo—”the burden”. A few years later, near the Mawili pools, there was born to Munene a son, who was named Mhlahlo, for there was dispute as to whether indeed he was a son of Zwangendawa, and it was necessary to cast the lots to confirm his fatherhood. Later, there were born other and lesser sons of Zwangendawa (Ndawazake, Mawilawo, and the “son of Mafu”—Lufo).
At Mapupo, Zwangendawa died in his Embangweni Village. After the regiments had collected, his body, hidden in its skin hag, was carried to Ekwendeni, thereby indicating how his succession would fall. To add to this, it was Lomagazi, sister of Mhlahlo and elder daughter of Munene, who stood beside the open grave, bearing the battle plumes and weapons of the dead chief, and thus confirmed for all to see the house which would provide the heir to the chief. The thousands of attendant warriors, fully armed for instant war, chanted the songs of death and mourned the dead chief, but none among them refused the place of burial. Rank on rank stood the regiments of Tatakakulu, Mahwaya, Mang’ombe, Izimpisi, Makeke, Mahacu, Zimfezi among those still remembered–all regiments of Amakehla, the seasoned warriors and old men bearing the Isidhlodhlo ring of polished wax and Ifefe grass on their heads—and the younger Manyoni and Mashapi regiments which were a few years later to don the head-ring at the place remembered as Isidhlodhlo, together with younger men still to be drafted to new regiments in the names of the heirs of Zwangendawa. Among all these, none disputed Ekwendeni as the site of burial.
When Zwangendawa died, none of his sons was of age to succeed him. Ntuto was the eldest—”he of the daughters of Zwide”—Mtwalo was the next oldest, but junior in the Lusungulu “house” to Mhlahlo.
Now, Ntaweni Jele, brother of Zwangendawa, desired that Ntuto should succeed Zwangendawa, basing his claims on the statement that Lompeto (in whose name Ntuto was born) was the original Inkosikazi, and that Zwangendawa had forgiven Soseya (Ntuto’s mother) and had re-instated her in Emveyeyeni after Zwangendawa had learnt that she had mothered a son. Ntaweni called the Izinduna together to propose Ntuto to be chief, but they refused his choice, saying “You want it to go back to the daughters of Zwide!”. Zwangendawa had other brothers. Among them was Mafu who had remained in Natal (there are still Jele’s in Natal and the Transvaal), and mMafu had two sons, Shenge and Mgayi, who had travelled with Zwangendawa in his wanderings to Mapupo. Shenge was a grown man then when they left Natal, and Mgayi but a youth. They had quarreled with one another, and Shenge had joined Ntaweni at his village of Engwenyameni. Ntaweni and the Ekwendeni folk were bitter enemies. Ntaweni had long ago accused Munene of attempting to bewitch Zwangendawa (and some say that it was because of this that Zwangendawa had deposed Munininkonzo and raised Lompeto to be Inkosikazi). Whatever be the truth, it is certain that the wives of Ekwendeni hated Ntaweni, and Shenge hated his brother Mgayi. After the decent interval prescribed by custom, Ntaweni claimed the Ekwendeni wives of Zwangendawa in levirate. With one voice they refused him, and as one they chose Mgayi. Among them, in addition to Munininkonzo, Munene and Qutu, there were Manga Mawelela, Siwamwati Khosa, Mafunase Lukhele, and others.
Crippled old Gwaza Jele, cousin of Zwangendawa and civil Induna of the tribe, threw his influence on the side of the Ekwendeni succession and in support of Mgayi.
Here was seed for civil war indeed, and for a while there was a sullen truce.
Then Ntaweni fell ill, and on his sickbed he plotted with Shenge to conceal his illness from Mgayi. A few days later Ntaweni died, and hurriedly, and without informing Gwaza and Mgayi, Shenge buried Ntaweni. Here was mortal and deliberate insult. As Shenge had plotted and foreseen, the regiments of Mgayi moved into instant action to deal with this revolt. And now we see the villany of Shenge. The main body of Engwenyameni fled, without waiting for Mgayi, to the north, led by Ngodoyi, the heir of Ntaweni, and fortified by the presence of Mahokoza, better known as Sidwawa, the war doctor of the Ngoni, not to halt until they reached far to the north where their descendants are now found, at Ushirombo, in the Kahama District of the Western Province of Tanganyika. Shenge with a picked regiment lay in hiding until the forces of Mgayi had passed, and then fell upon the defenceless Emacakazeni Village of Mgayi, slaving all the wives of Mgavi and all his children excepting only the youth Ndawambi otherwise known as Mtenji, who was away on a visit. Then Shenge also fled to the north, to join Ngodoyi.
Death of Mgayi
Not long after this, Mgayi died. Excepting Gwaza, there was now no longer any senior member of the Jele clan left to hold the tribe together. There were secessions from the tribe. Zulu Gama led off his followers round the northern end of Lake Tanganyika and joined forces with Mputa Maseko, descendant of the Ngwana Maseko who had, south of the Zambezi, revolted from Zwangendawa, and had subsequently found his way, carefully avoiding Zwangendawa, to the upper waters of the Rovuma River in Tanganyika. In time, the heirs of Zulu Gama were to drive out Cidiaonga Maseko, brother of Mputa who succeeded Mputa, slain by the Wena people in war, and who eventually, after turbulent wanderings among the polyglot tribes east of Lake Nyasa, settled to the south of Domwe Hill, just to the west of the great hills of Cilobwe and Mvai in Nyasaland. Ciwele Njobvu, an Induna of the Mang’ombe regiment (not that of Zwangendawa) and of Nsenga birth, sent on a trip to raid food in Henga, failed to rejoin the main body, and eventually settled in the Dowa District of Nyasaland.
Ntuto attempted to assume the chiefdom, but Gwaza resisted this, and Mhlahlo refused it. Mhlahlo and Ntuto, though no more than mere youths, were enemies. At a feast they had quarreled because Mhlahlo had struck the favourite dog of Ntuto when it had come too near the great wooden meat platters, and, after the argument that had followed, Mhlahlo had gone forth and sought and killed all the dogs of Ntuto. Ekwendeni had sided with Mhlahlo, and Entenguleni had found itself alone.
The tribe was without a leader. For a while, there were those who advocated that Mtwalo should be chief, but he was slow to grow to manhood. The turbulent Mhlahlo overtook him. There was uncertainty and dissension. A famine, as has dogged the Ngoni throughout their history, helped to settle the matter. The Ngoni were driven forth from Isidhlodhlo by famine brought about by their own utter destruction of the food-giving soils. Ekwendeni elected to move to the south-east (to Malindika—”there where they waited for it”) but Entenguleni and Emveyeveni with Ntuto decided to strike off on their own, and west they went towards the country of Citimukulu, chief of the Wemba. Lufo, escorted by Macumi, yet but a child and siding for a while with Ntuto, joined Ntuto on the journey to the west. The other brothers Mtwalo, Ndawazake and Mawilawo followed Mhlahlo. Ntuto was eventually to take the name of Mpezeni, while Lufo, but a child when Macumi took him west, was later to take the Mwamba name of Mperembe—the fierce Roan Antelope.
After a stay at Malindika, where the destruction of their cultivation may be seen to this day, the Ngoni brothers moved on to the south. Climbing the Nyika highlands, past Mpaha at the headwaters of the Rumpi, and past Chilinda on the upper Rumphi, past the ancient iron workings, they descended to Ng’onga in Henga in the valley of the lower Runyina River (which some now call the Rukuru).
Not until Ng’onga could the Ngoni instal a chief. Of the heirs, Mtwalo was the elder, but Mhlahlo the more vigorous and moreover the son of the Inkosikazi. Mhlahlo had already led regiments in war. In a raid from Malindika to the lake shore, he had, so it is said, with his own hand speared the twelfth Kyungu, Mwambero—the strong wind-at night in the darkness of a raid, and to exult the occasion he took the Ngonde name of Mwambero (later corrupted to Mombera and latterly to M’Mbelwa). Perhaps this raid was later, for, by some accounts Mhlahlo was but a youth when he reached Ng’onga and had not yet gone to war.
Circa 1851
At Ng’onga, Mhlahlo (Mwambero) was “crowned” as chief of the Ngoni, and the year was between 1850 and 1855. Both Mhlahlo and Mtwalo had supporters, but it was at Ng’onga that the Ngoni of Northern Nyasaland became united. Mhlahlo had been the supposed chief-to-be at Malindika, but it was Gwaza, carried over the Nyika in a litter, who had held the tribe together, from Mapupo to Isidhlodhlo to Malindika to Ng’onga. When Mhlahlo was proclaimed chief of the Ngoni at Ng’onga, it was no simple matter. In the cattle-fold of Ekwendeni, massed all the regiments of Ngoniland, in panoply of war and not of dance, silent behind the great Isihlangu of ox-hide, with sweating hands gripping the razor-edged Ijozi, not knowing whether the outcome of the meeting would be bloody affray, or the thunderous abandon of the chorus in the Ukugiya to the chief. When Mtwalo stepped forward towards Mhlahlo, perhaps fifteen thousand spearmen tightened the grip on their spears. Mtwalo embraced Mhlahlo, and, before the multitude, called his younger brother “Wawa”—father—and gave to him the loyalty and allegiance which mark the relations between Ekwendeni and Edingeni to this day.
The Ngoni did not stay long at Ng’onga. The great herds of buffalo in Henga were bearers of dread Trypanosomiasis, and the Ngoni moved up the Kasito Valley, one strong force without dissident elements, a grim, united force, undivided, under one chief, ready and willing to fight any who opposed them, seeking land in which to settle in which the long-horned cattle of Mapupo—Zwangendawa’s cattle—would thrive. As far as Ng’onga, Mtwalo and Mhlahlo had moved together. Now they moved as one. Not a grown person among them but had the bored ear of the Nguni. Not one among them but spoke the Nguni tongue, not one who did not observe Nguni custom, no matter that they were Sutu, Thonga, Karanga, Lozi, Nsenga, Sukuma, Nyika, Ndewele or Tumbuka by tribe.
They halted for a few months at Ruhomero Hill, that which stands up like a thumb in air, the hill of the flying arrows, and then moved on to Uswesi, on the eastern slopes of Choma Mountain, above the lake, and here they cultivated the red sandy soils for their millet. Among the Ngoni, there were no dissident elements. The regiments of Ekwendeni, of Elangeni, of Hoho, of Enyezini,of Embangweni, and of Emqiseni and others were part of one war machine. Here they were established when in 1860 Dr. Livingstone found the Ngoni raiding parties devastating the lake shore, and the evidence of rotting corpses and smouldering villages to witness the superiority of the Ngoni stabbing spear over the arrow.
Mtwalo had many wives but few sons. The Inkosikazi of Mtwalo was Maiwase Nkosi of Ezondweni Village—the village of hatred—an offshoot of Ekwendeni. She bore to Mtwalo three daughters, Mzuyeya, Makuwaza, and Walekile. The next in seniority in the Lusungulu “house” was Lumtowo, of the Nhlane clan, of Hoho—the bottomless pit and she bore to Mtwalo two daughters, Chiwozi and Mzamose. The third wife in the “house” of the Inkosikazi was Siniyawo, of the Mtetwa clan, of the village of Ezondweni, and she bore to Mtwalo a son who was at first named Muhawi.
In order of marriage, the following were the wives of Mtwalo and the names of their children:—
House Name of Wife Village (Igama lekhaya) Children (Abantwana)
1.Lusungulu Maiwase Nkosi Ezondweni F. Mzuyeya
F. Makuwaza
F.Walekile
2. Kwagogo Magodise Moyo Ekwendeni M. Mzikuwola
F. Lonjoma
3. Lusungulu Lumtowo Nhlane Hoho F. Ciwozi
F. Mzamose
4. Kwagogo Nawiyawo Hala Engqongoleni F. Lomajozi
F. Soyeya
M. Lazalo
F. Sikane
5. Kwagogo Mthando Ndolo Ekwendeni F. Puzile
F. Nxawile
6. Lusungulu Siniyawo Mtetwa Ezondweni M. Muhawi
7. Lusungulu Hlambase Ziwa Ezondweni F. Mtiyawo
8. Lusungulu Matambose Nkosi Ezondweni F. Gciwile (C. click)
9. Kwagogo Velepi Nzima Ekwendeni F. Munjowo
F. Mtuseya
M. Mahlahluwane
10. Kwagogo Munyuse Mkalipi Engqongoleni

11. Kwagogo Magulwe Mcisi Engqongoleni
12. Lusungulu Lonyanda Nkosi Ezondweni
13.Lusungulu Guye Mtetwa Ezondweni
14.Kwagogo Ngeneya Hala Engqongoleni

The eldest son of Mtwalo was the boy Mzikuwola who was later to take the name of Yohane, but he was not the heir to the chiefdom, being of the Kwagogo house—”there where grandmother lives” the village which receives the property but not the chiefdom (for the new chief must go out to win his property). The first and indeed the only son of the Lusungulu house—”that which breaks away (to found a new village for the new chief)”, the house of the Indhlukulu or inkosikazi, was Muhawi. In about 1873, Muhawi was born in the village of Ezondweni, a suburb of Ekwendeni (for in those days the Ngoni villages were of gigantic size), at the Mapondela Stream, near Dulu Hill, in Uswesi east of Coma. There was talk of witchcraft at the time of his birth, and hence he was named Muhawi, the witch, but he received also the name of Somaqala, because court cases were being heard in the cattle fold at the time he was born. As he grew older, he was a bonny fat baby, and he was nicknamed Macazwa, on account of his fatness. Muhawi grew up as a typical Ngoni boy, herding the cattle in the daytime and playing at war with his fellows, driving the cattle to the great fold in the evening, to hang around the men eating their evening meal at the gates of the fold, and to hear their talk of wars and raids and affairs of state.

In the late 1870s, the village of Ekwendeni moved from Uswesi southwest to the Kafulufulu Stream, which enters the Lunyangwa River, having driven themselves from Coma Mountain by their own destructive methods of cultivation and the trampling of their vast herds of cattle, following Mhlahlo who moved to the Kasito Valley, opposite to Hora Hill. The satellite villages moved with the main village, and Ezondweni village was built perhaps a mile from Ekwendeni.
Dr. Robert Laws of the Church of Scotland Mission had visited Mtwalo and Mhlahlo in April, 1882, and in November, 1883, a branch of the Church of Scotland Mission had been founded at Njuyu, on the eastern banks of the Kasito River, but this station was shortly afterwards transferred to the site nearby the present site of Ekwendeni Mission, down in the valley of the Lunyangwa River, and still later to the present site, at the request of Mtwalo. Right from the beginning, Mtwalo had befriended the missionaries. In 1887, the boy Muhawi, sent from herding cattle by his father Mtwalo, presented himself before the Reverend Peter MacCullum at Ekwendeni Mission in order to be taught the strange new religion of the Europeans and the magic of reading and writing.
Death of Mtwalo I
In October, 1890, Mtwalo died at Kafulufulu, and was buried according to Ngoni custom, in the presence of the massed regiments of Ekwendeni. Muhawi was yet a youth aged less than twenty years. In normal course, at least a year would intervene before the completion of the great witch hunt and the avenging of the death of the chief by shield and spear, before a new chief could be installed in the great cattle fold. Events were not normal. Muhawi was not yet of age, and in October, 1891, Mhlahlo died. The power to enthrone a chief of the lesser house could come only from the chief of the great house. The chief was dead at the time when consideration should be given to the installation of the heir of Mtwalo as chief.
In 1891, the village of Ekwendeni and its satellites moved from the Kafulufulu Stream across the Lunyangwa River to near where Ekwendeni Village now stands.
There succeeded a period of great trial for the Ngoni. Chimtunga, the heir of Mhlahlo, was not yet of an age to be appointed chief. The Ngoni military organisation was being undermined by missionary influence. Some teachers and schoolboys joined their regiments in 1892 in the tremendous and widespread raids to avenge the death of Mhlahlo, but there were many who would not leave the Mission. There were raids far to the west, deep into the Luangwa Valley, as late as 1897, but the Ngoni war machine was a spent force by 1893. European Government was closing in on all sides, and in 1894 the white men were demanding that the Ngoni cease to raid towards the east of the lake shore, or be met with war.
Muhawi appointed Chief
In 1895, the Ngoni notables gathered to confirm Chimtunga as chief of the Ngoni. He was now of age. There was now a head to appoint and confirm the lesser chiefs of the Ngoni kingdom. In June, 1896, Muhawi was summoned to Engalaweni, the great village of Chimtunga, at the Titimira Stream, north-west of Hora Hill—Lohlokwani, the Ngoni call it and on 15thJune,1896 before assembled elders of the tribe, including Lufo, who had taken the Mwamba name of Mpherembe, and was last of the sons of Zwangendawa, Muhawi was appointed chief of Ekwendeni and heir of the chiefdom of Mtwalo. There, in the great cattle told of Engalaweni, was Muhawi publicly recognised as a chief.
Muhawi was not the oldest son of Mtwalo. The boy Mzikuwola, who at school took the name of Yohane, the son of Magodise, of the Karanga Movo totem, was several years older than Muhawi. After the death of Mhlahlo, Yohane had left school and joined the regiments. Muhawi was then too young to go as a soldier. He could have gone with one of the regiments of Izimpohlo—the food carriers—but decided to remain at school. Muhawi never went to war with the Ngoni regiments, but instead he remained at school-to learn to read and write, and to adopt the Christian faith. On adopting the Christian faith, Muhawi took the name of Amon, and in 1893 Amon became a teacher in the Mission school. In August or September, 1895, Amon married Emily Nhlane, of Hoho, taking her as his Christian wife and as inkosikazi by Ngoni custom.
When Amon succeeded to the chiefdom, he ruled from Ezondweni, according to the custom of the Ngoni, for Ekwendeni was the village of the deceased chief which the heir may not occupy. Soon after Amon assumed the chiefdom, the Ngoni began to find that yet again they must move because of the devastation their methods of cultivation had caused. Throughout their history as Ngoni, they had been pursued by periodic famines when the worn-out soils refused to produce sufficient food. For a hundred miles south of Elora Hill lay unoccupied country from which the Tumbuka and Cewa inhabitants had fled or been enslaved or exterminated. In 1895, the Mwase of Kasungu had been defeated by the British and a military post later formed in his country. The Cewa had begun to filter back to their homes. The Ngoni had agreed not to molest the Cewa and the lakeside Tonga in 1894, but early in the 20th century the Ngoni began to move south into Cewa country, abruptly removing any opposition. Mawilawo (Bad tidings are heard) led the van, followed by Mzukuzuku (The ashes), Mzikuwola (The village is rotten) and by Cimtunga himself. The Ngoni had broken the pact they made in 1894 with the British to keep within their own country, or submit to British Government. Cewa taxpayers had been ruthlessly speared. The Church of Scotland missionaries arranged a meeting between the Ngoni and the British. In August, 1904, The Ngoni agreed to accept British Government rather than withdraw to their boundaries. Amon was one of the senior chiefs present at this meeting.
On 24th October, 1904, the Union Flag was hoisted at the recently abandoned Mission buildings at Hora, which were occupied by Hector McDonald, the first British Resident sent to administer the Ngoni.
In 1905, Amon, who had remained a schoolmaster when he became chief, ceased employment with the Church of Scotland Mission. In 1911, he moved his village of Ezondweni from near the Lunyangwa River down the Kasito valley to Katontowolo, near Emanyaleni. Here he stayed but ten years, losing many cattle from trvpanosomiasis, moving back again up the Kasito valley to his present village at the foot of Chinteche Hill on the Kabumba Stream, to the site vacated not long before by Chindi Jele, in 1922.
Becomes Mtwalo II
In 1944, Amon took the name of Mtwalo II.
As a child, Muhawi, Amon, Mtwalo II, saw the first Europeans after David Livingstone to enter Northern Nyasaland. He saw the first Scots missionaries when they visited the Ngoni at Njuvu. He knew Mtusane Nkosi, known to the missionaries as William Koyi, and who is buried at Njuyu at the foot of a great Baobab tree, and to whose influence the missionaries owed much of their success with the Ngoni. Amon has seen the massing of Ngoni regiments to avenge the death of Mhlahlo and before that, and he has seen plumed warriors in their thousands on their return from great raids as far as the Congo waters, with the signs upon them to show that their spears had found human blood. He has known the days when the great wooden platters were piled high with beef. He remembers the days when perhaps ten thousand cattle might be herded in a single fold of Ekwendeni. He has seen the gradual change from those days. In 1904 he was a party to the agreement whereby the Ngoni accepted British Government. In 1906, he persuaded his people to pay their first tax to the British Government.
Amon, the boy Muhawi, the chief Mtwalo, has seen great changes in the countryside. He has seen great trees, running streams and fertile pastures of the Kasito Valley , the valley of thickets, give way to the barren waste of today. He takes a part in a new form of Government where the chief must keep a cash book and proper accounts, and write his court cases in a book. No longer is court held in the centuries-old manner in the cattle fold, but in a brick court house. Though all these changing years he has guided his people well. He has seen history in the making, and taken part in that history. His Inkosikazi, Emily Nhlane, has guided and helped him throughout all these difficult years.

Two great trees still stand in the forest.

Mary Chipeta and Emily Nhlane (wife of Inkosi Mtwalo II)