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From the book ‘Totenism and Exogamy,’ 1910.
1. Sir H. H. Johnston, British Central Africa (London, 1897) , pp. 389-392; A. Werner, The Natives of British Central Africa (London, 1906), pp. 24 sqq., 208 sqq., 278 sqq.; R. Sutherland Rattray, Some Folk-lore Stories and Songs in Chinyanja (London, 1907), p. viii.
2. Sir H H Johnston, British Central Africa, pp 424 sqq., pp. 430 sqq., 435 sq., 457 sqq.; A Werner, The Natives of British Central Africa, pp. 176 sqq,
3.R. Sutherland Rattray, Some Folk-lore Stories and Songs in Chinyanja, p.174.
4.R. Sutherland Rattray, op. cit. p. 176.
5. R. Sutherland Rattray, op. cit.
6. R. Sutherland Rattray, op. cit. p.176
7.R. Sutherland Rattray, Some Folk-lore Stories and Songs in Chinyanja, pp. 174 sq,
8. See above, vol. i. p. 22.
9. R. Sutherland Rattray, Some Folk-lore Stories and Songs in Chinyanja, p. 176
10. See above, vol. i. p.10.
11. R. Sutherland Rattray, Some Folk-lore Stories and songs in Chinyanja, pp. 175 sq., 177.
12. R. Sutherland Rattray, op. cit. p. 178.
13. See above, pp. 388 sqq.
14. R. Sutherland Rattray, Some Folk-lore Stories and songs in Chinyanja, pp. 178 sq.
15. R. Sutherland Rattray, op. cit. pp. 177, 202
16. A. Werner, The Natives of British Central Africa, p. 252.
17. Sir H H Johnston, British Central Africa, p. 471; A Werner, The Natives of British Central Africa, p. 254.
18. A. Werner, op. cit. pp. 253, 258; R. Sutherland Rattray, Some Folk-lore Stories and Songs in Chinyanja, pp. 188 sq.
19. R. Sutherland Rattray, Some Folk-lore Stories and Songs in Chinyanja p.202. Compare A. Werne, The Natives of British Central Africa, pp. 252 sq/
20. R. Sutherland Rattray, Some Folk-lore Stories and Songs in Chinyanja, p. 204. The Wankonde in British Central Africa “have that curious custom by which a man is practically forbidden to speak to or even look at his mother-in-law. This also obtains amongst the A-nyanja to some extent; yet here the son-in-law has to hoe his mother-in-law’s garden and assist her in many ways” (Sir H H Johnston, British Central Africa, p. 415).
21.A Werner, The Natives of British Central Africa, p. 132.
22. A Werner, op. cit. p. 254.
Author(s): Patrick M. Redmond, 1975.
The Maji Maji rebellion of 1905-1906 was Tanzania’s most spectacular manifestation of the rejection of colonial rule. It joined numerous peoples of very diverse political, economic, and social backgrounds in a struggle to oust the German power which had recently subjugated them. Of those who participated, the Ngoni of Songea district were among the most determined, some continuing the fight till mid-1906, and most suffering heavily from massive reprisals at German hands.
While the largely independent nature of the Songea rebellion has been acknowledged elsewhere,2 in general scholars have held that the Ngoni had the same reason for participating as had others who fought: the belief that the maji (Swahili, water) which their prophets were dispensing would protect their warriors from bullets, enabling them to throw off cruel and repressive German rule and regain their independence.3 The reappraisal of this interpretation which follows is based onthe supposition that the attitudes of different groups among the Ngoni toward both the Germans and the advantages of independence were variable. Not all felt either severely oppressed under German dominance or looked forward to a better life without them. Moreover, where possible this variabilityd eterminedc ommitment to rebellion. The Maji Maji among the Ngoni was not a united struggle against a hated enemy,but a conflict fomented by those whom its successful outcome stood to benefit.
The argument lies in an analysis of the political,economic,and social life in Ungoni,the country of the Ngoni, prior to colonial rule and of the German impact on it. Two factors in particulara re important: the influence of social rank on the Ngoni reaction to the Germans, and the role of the internal political situation in determining who was willing to
The Ngoni presence in Songea district was an offshoot of the Mfecane, the dispersion which followed Shaka’s rise to power and the growth of the Zulu nation in southern Africa. Of those who migrated, one group, the Maseko Ngoni, reached Songea in the 1840s, while another,the Njelu and Mshope Ngoni, came there in the 1850s. The two groups fought for control over the region and its peoples, and the earlier arrivals were defeated and driven from the area. The victors then set up two kingdoms and began a period of remarkably successful state building. Better organized politically and more sophisticated militarily than their neighbors, they had little trouble in expanding their numbers. From the early 1850s until the end of the century their population increased from less than a thousand4 to what has been conservatively estimated at 36,000.5
In the process of building their kingdoms the Ngoni created new societies in eastern Africa whose characteristics in part reflected those of their forebears in southern Africa. Political structure and organization continued to be centralized and based on royal families-the Gamain Njelu and the Tawete in Mshope-whose chosen head, called the nkosi,6 was the single most powerful person in the kingdom. He controlled the military organization with the assistance of senior members of the royal household and senior military commanders, called manduna. He directed national administration, assisted once again by leading relatives, called wantwana. Differences in political organization developed in some matters. For example, in one kingdom a few military manduna became extremely powerful and quite independent. Military tactics, weapons, and much of the organization of the fighting force also continued the way they had in southern Africa. However, numerous changes also occurred, and it was these which gradually produced new societies.
Most of these changes were the result of adaptation to the East African environment. Militarily, the system was not as refined as it had been in southern Africa. The overwhelming numbers of local people in the army had meant the general abandonment of such things as age regiments, separate military villages, and some social practices. Socially, the Ngoni adopted much of the culture of their East African adherents. For example, the language of the migrants was gradually replaced by a local language.7
Successful in forging a new society, the migrants took care to preserve their preeminent role in it. This was done through a careful emphasis on the distinction between them and their East African captives and the allocation of rights and responsibilities based on the differences. The migrants were known as the true Ngoni, while those who were captured and integrated after the newcomers arrived were called sutu. Everyone knew to which class he belonged, and the implications of this hierarchy were reflected on most levels of organization within the two kingdoms. For example, on the political level the true Ngoni held all the senior administrative posts. The sutu held junior posts, and very few of them could pose any challenge to true Ngoni control. In the military, the manduna were chosen from among the true Ngoni. The sutu could become lieutenants, although usually they had to be satisfied with positions as ordinary soldiers. In economic life, the true Ngoni controlled raiding and any benefits it brought; it was they who receivedtribute from satellite villages. The largest farms and the greatest number of people to work them were theirs. In trade, they decided which contacts to allow, and when these developed, as for example in the coastal trade, they were the ones who profited. Socially, the true Ngoni enjoyed many privileges denied to the sutu. For example, they alone could wear any clothing or choose any wife.8
Either willingly or under force, the sutu accepted these arrangements.Many acquiesced because they benefited from their status as Ngoni. They participated in military campaigns and received a part of the spoils. Some gained in prestige after proving themselves successful warriors or administrators. Many were proud to belong to the strongest in the region and to share much of its life style. But even those unwilling to accept Ngoni status were forced to endure it, since they were too weak militarily to free themselves.
These two successful and rapidly expanding kingdoms encountered the Germans in the 1890s, and submitted to them in 1897. Their surrender was a reluctant but nonviolent one, the result of three factors. First, the Ngoni feared and respected the Germans, who had defeated the powerful Hehe nation to the north. In addition, Njelu, the more powerful of the two kingdoms, was rent with internal strife.9 Finally, the Ngoni leaders were deceived. Twice previously German expeditions had entered Ungoni, talked with Ngoni leaders, demanded and received tribute and the rectification of grievances, and left. The third time they invited the leaders to talk, then held them hostage until they accepted their terms.
The Varying Impact of German Rule
Submission brought many changes to Ngoni society. Of critical importance to understanding them is an awareness of their selective effect on the Ngoni. In most cases, the true Ngoni suffered the most.
The Germans hoped to take over effective political control for the eventual purpose of economic hegemony. 10 However, the kind of control that had been established on the coast, through liwalis and akidates, was impossible inland, since the Germans lacked the resources in men and money to implement it, particularly if the existing leadership resisted total removal. Instead,they manipulated the existing Ngoni administrative system. Ultimate power was withdrawn from the Ngoni and placed in the hands of the German representative in the district, who had the final say in all local administrative matters. In the political arena this allowed him to determine the allocation of power on subordinate levels by appointing and dismissing chiefs and altering the basis of their authority through, for example, removing sections of their following. He could also mobilize the population for desired ends, such as the building of roads and general construction. In financial matters, he and his superiors decided how Ngoni resources would be used. Accordingly,he could demand the tribute that formerly had gone to other groups in Ngoni society, as well as determine Ngoni activity in economic fields such as agriculture and trade. In judicial matters, he became the ultimate of law and order. This gave him the power to make his own laws and to ensure that they were enforced by his police and his system of courts.
The appropriation of these powers brought fundamental changes to the Ngoni political system. The former division of leadership among the mankosi, wantwana, and manduna was replaced by a relative standardizing of control among all three. The more important leaders were now classified as sultans, the lesser ones as jumbes; both were given specific rights and responsibilities. They were required to receive and pass on orders, to call up labor, and to run their local administration efficiently.11 They insured that tribute or taxes were collected,12 and they handled civil court cases using customary law.13 To represent the Ngoni leaders before the administration the Germans appointed a man they felt entitled to the position: Songea, the most powerful of the military manduna in Njelu.14
Within the Ngoni hierarchy, those at the top were the most adversely affected by the system of administration the Germans imposed. Some were forced to relinquish all the senior powers they had once enjoyed. For example,each nkosi no longer had final control over matters in his kingdom. The wantwana no longer influenced political policy. The senior manduna no longer decided military and most administrative questions in their regions. Some lost important segments of their following. Nkosi Chabruma of Mshope, for instance, lost almost half his kingdom when the Germans removed large blocks of territory from his control. 15 All lost the financial benefits they once had enjoyed; tribute, regular supplies of captives, the unrestricted use of subject labor, and the profits of trade in slaves and ivory passed from their hands. Senior leaders relinquished their considerable judicial powers. Almost to a man, they were unable to find in the responsibilities the Germans were now allocating an adequate alternative to those they had given up. This was so even for Nduna Songea, who although allowed greater rights than his compatriots, exercised much less authority in all spheres of political activity than he had previously done.
While the leaders, all true Ngoni,were adversely affected by the German takeover, most sutu were not. None had held senior political power before 1897, and so may have experienced only limited changes in the replacement of their true Ngoni superiors by Germans. In fact, some of them appear to have benefited. For example, some groups apparently were able to select their own leaders under the Germans.16 To groups such as the Matengo, this change must have been a welcome one. And in legal matters, they now had the option of appealing to a neutral force. To a few this was particularly useful.17 Financially, they suffered the loss of what they formerly had gained from warfare. However, some aspects of economic life improved. They could sell their labor and keep the earnings. They could participate in trade by collecting the wild rubber then in demand; some people, such as the Ngindo, seem to have done well in this enterprise.18 In agriculture,it is likely that many were freer to produce what they wanted and dispose of it as they wished. In fact, the German appearance most probably brought a graduald iffusion of wealth in Ngoni society, a diffusion that was most noticeable to and appreciated by those members who had had little before 1897. In social life, the preeminence of the true Ngoni life style was beginning to give way to that of the Europeans and coastal peoples. In religion, respect for the elders lost meaning as its purpose was withdrawn. Replacing it were the religions of the newcomers-Christianity, brought in with the Roman Catholic Benedictines of St. Ottilien, and Islam, disseminated by traders and colonial officials. Education that prepared an individual for a military life was replaced with one stressing an administrative life under German rule. Attitudes were changing; it seemed likely that a new class would emerge.
Reaction to German Rule
The response of the true Ngoni to these events seems to have passed through two stages. At first they were tolerant of German rule; after a time, however, their feeling grew into a much stronger commitment, either in favor of or against it. The initial acquiescence apparently was due to uncertainty over the implications of submission, and was reflected in a general openness toward cooperation. Contemporary government sources suggest a willingness to discuss problems.19 Mission sources indicate a comparable receptiveness in, for example, the Ngoni’s ready acceptance of missionaries to the area,20 the more specific result of curiosity and a desire for the prestige they could bring, the hope of material benefit,21 and an interest in their culture.22
While the Europeans remained a novelty more than an oppressor,the true Ngoni continued to preoccupy themselves with matters of traditional
importance. This is most poignantly evident in the Njelu kingdom, where a disputed succession to the nkosiship showed that internal political life remained critically important. In 1898 Mlamilo died. The difficulties which arose over determining his successor brought to the fore Njelu rivalries which had been building up for more than a decade over matters half a century old. In the late 1850s, before the Njelu helped to overthrow the Maseko, their leadership had suffered severe reversals at Maseko hands. Some of the senior leaders had been killed, and a number of the Gama royal family were forced to flee west of the lake. Among those who left was the recently installed nkosi,Gwazerapasi. After the Maseko defeat, men from junior branches of the royal family-Hawai (c. 1864-1874) and Mharule (1874-1889)-took control of the kingdom. In the 1880s, when Njelu was at the height of power, Nkosi Mharule invited his kinsmen to come back from exile and a number did. But after Mharule died, the electors disagreed on their choice for a successor. According to Tom Von Prince, the most important source of information on the conflict,23 Mharule’s brother Mlamilo was the legitimate heir but he declined to serve, apparently due to ill health. The only other brothers were those who had returned from west of the lake, and their flight made them ineligible. Accordingly, sons of Hawai and Mharule were considered, as was a third possibility, Zamchaya, a son of Gwazerapasi. Zamchaya was from the
senior family and, unlike his father’s generation, was eligible to succeed,
or so Prince says. Zamchaya returned to receive the nkosiship, but a number of electors rejected him because, again according to Prince, he was unsatisfactory.24 Yet Prince fails to mention the very important reason why he should be considered legitimate when the older generation had not been. Based on their subsequent behavior, the sons of Hawai and Mharule clearly were unwilling to accept him or any of his family. In any case, the succession remained unresolved. Mlamilo chose to rule one part of the kingdom, while Zamchaya claimed another. At the same time, some of the leading manduna took advantage of the situation to assert their independence of either overlord,and dissension within the kingdom grew strong. By the time Mlamilo died in 1898, Zamchaya’s older brother Mputa had returned and claimed the throne..Though little information on the succession remains – the Germans ignored it after officially abolishing the office – it appears that Mputa was opposed by Usangila, a son of Mharule.25 According to E. Ebner, Mputa became the de facto leader; he enjoyed considerable power and simply took the title of nkosi.26 Mputa’s accession subsequently influenced the attitudes of dissident members of the royal family toward the Germans.
Among some true Ngoni, initial tolerance toward the foreigners gradually
gave way to fuller cooperation and receptiveness. One of Njelu’s senior leaders, Putire Gama, became very friendly with the missionaries. While this may suggest an openness to the new order, it probably merely reflects one stage in Gama’s growing independence of the traditional power center. 27 Usangila Gama seems to have established cordialcontacts with the German sat the administrative headquarters or fort,28 apparently in an attempt to gain support for his faction. He may also have wished to counteract the benefits Mputa gained from his relations with the missionaries. A few true Ngoni took advantage of the opportunities the Germans made available. For example, some worked for them. One, Kaziburre, a son of the Njelu military nduna Mpambalioto, became an interpreter.29 Some sons of true Ngoni leaders attended mission and government schools. They probably did so initially through force, then continued out of genuine interest. Among their numbers were Dominikus Missoro Tawete and Ali Songea, sons of the two most powerful leaders of Ungoni.
Although some true Ngoni began to cooperate with the Germans,most came to oppose them as their attitude of tolerance proved inadequate under the circumstances. Occasionally the response turned to despair. For example, after being summoned repeatedly to the fort to answer for his apparently unfriendly attitude, Fusa Gama hanged himself.30 Sometimes the response was confrontation. Philip Gulliver notes Chabruma Tawete, nkosi of Mshope, as being strongly belligerent:”[He] was far more truculent [than Mputa, nkosi of Njelu] and had several brushes with the German officers at the Songea boma… in the tradition of the high autocracy of the Mshope Ngoni [he] was far less ready to give way to the whiteman.”31 On one occasion he ignored the limits the Germans had placed on his judicial powers and sentenced to death a subject who had interfered with one of his wives. The man escaped and reported the leader,who was admonished.32
But confrontation had its limits;it fostered rebellion, and this the Germans were not prepared to tolerate. When a former subject, a Matengo chief, rebelled against German taxation policies, he was promptly and severely repressed.33 And others were made to realize that rebellion would not be taken lightly. Accordingly the Ngoni pursued a policy of non cooperation only as far as they could safely do so. Mputa Gama spurned the missionaries after 1904 when one burned the mahoka hut where he prayed to his ancestors,34 but otherwise they had to content themselves with lamenting their lot. Many must have longed to return to the free and successful life of the past,35 when they held firm control over wealth and power. Presumably they hoped for some means to restore it.
Although most of the true Ngoni found little satisfaction in the German
presence, the same cannot be said of the sutu. We already have seen a few ways in which the German impact on the sutu varied from that on their leaders. Numerous contemporary references clearly suggest considerable adaptation to the new political-situation, commenting on their willingness to give up raiding in favor of peaceful farming36 and to participate in porterage and other German economic activities.37 More recent works have also noted the openness of many sutu to the Germans. One student,remarking on oral evidence collected on their response to the newcomers, wrote: “We the Wahamba [Wandenduli]somehow appreciated a number of the German rules because they directly opposed the Ngoni rules, especially of using us as unpaid servants.”38 Certainly the reaction was not uniformly positive. Many were unhappy with taxes, forced labor, and the general mistreatment theysuffered at German hands.39 Undoubtedly these reasons were sufficient
justification for rebellion for some, but certainly not for all.
By 1905 the Ngoni had reacted to German domination in varied and complex ways. Some of the true Ngoni were adapting to and benefiting from the German presence, although most were chafing under ever increasing restrictions. Some among the sutu were dissatisfied with the harshness of German rule and the losses they had suffered, but many had improved their lot under the new masters. Into this society a powerful religious movement with strong political overtones spread in the summer of 1905.
The Spread of the Maji in Ungoni
In July 1905 some Matumbi, a people living to the east of Songea district,
took courage from a powerful maji given to them by their religious leader and began uprooting cotton plants at Nandete.40 Shortly afterward they forced the local administrator to leave the district. Then on 15 August a neighboring people, fortified as well by the medicine, attacked the German boma at Liwale. On 30 August, Ngindo and eastern Pogoro stormed the German boma at Mahenge,41 and the Maji Maji rebellion was in full swing.
While the rebellion was beginning elsewhere, the Ngoni encountered Kinjala,an emissary of the man who was spreading the maji cult. Kinjala first came into contact with a subchief of Chabruma, through whom he met the great leader. According to the evidence of a British colonial officer given in the 1930s, Chabruma was at first reluctant to accept the maji, but after consulting the ancestors and his advisers he decided to use the medicine to regain Ngoni independence.42 He ordered everyone in the Mshope kingdom to do likewise, and almost all complied even those whom the Germans had removed from his control-because they were afraid of displeasing him. Then Chabruma invited the Njelu Ngoni to participate. Mputa was receptive, and after visiting a Mshope center where the maji was being distributed he returned to Njelu to enlist the support of other leaders. Not all were willing to join-Putire Gama, Usangila Gama, and Chabruma Gama were among those who refused-but most other leaders received the water, as did the sutu. Like their counterparts in Mshope, the latter had little choice in the matter. The stage was now set for the Ngoni uprising, the most protracted and vicious part of Maji Maji.
A Reinterpretation of Participation
As noted above, most analyses of the Ngoni rebellion claim that the Ngoni fought to free themselves from European control and to restore their former state to greatness. In reports to the government written shortly after the conflict occurred and in his book published in 1909,43 Graf von Gitzen listed a variety of causes, including annoyance at taxation and other economic measures, a desire for independence, and theinfluence of superstition. The Colonial Economic Committee offered another analysis, and one of its members, John Booth, was well acquainted with the Ngoni. He considered the rebellion the result both of an attempt by Ngoni leaders to regain their power and of a spreading of the maji.44 A third group to offer their views were the Benedictine missionaries. In a report of late 1906, one of their converts described the rebels’ desire to expel the Europeans from their country.45 A more official Benedictine report came from the Bishop of Dar es Salaam; he suggested that nationalism was an important cause, comparing the rebellion to the struggles of the Tirol people in 1809 and the Germans in 1813 against Napoleon.46
John Iliffe has analyzed the views of these and other Germans47 and divided them into two opposing schools of thought: the witchcraft group, which held that the maji gave the Africans their cohesion and fanatical courage, and those holding an abuses theory, that the rebellion was a popular protest against specific injustices. Until the 1950s, most subsequent studies were composed by British colonial officials, who usually saw the rebellion as an expression of grievances against unjust
German rule. That by R.M. Bell on Liwale District is one of the most revealing. After analyzing many oral traditions, Bell concluded that Maji Maji was a “national war of independence-a fanatical and desperate fight for freedom.”48 In the 1950s, sociologists, missionaries, and converts published further work on the Ngoni. The first of these was by government sociologist P.H. Gulliver. In 1954 he wrote that Maji Maji had been a -purely political effort which had used the maji for specific purposes:
It seems clear that the Rebellion was primarily a military one in the
Ngoni warlike tradition and in an attempt to regain the old mastery by this tribe of soldiers and marauders. It cannot be said that there was a
really unified Maji Maji movement, or that the Ngoni allied themselves with the Ngindo and others-those other tribes were thoroughly despised by the arrogant Ngoni who had plundered them so easily for so waters” to rise against the white man and to resume their independence and their old way of life and war.49
In 1959 missionary Father Elzear Ebner published his major “History of the Wangoni.” He argued that the prime motivation had been the desire for independence: “They hoped to regain their independence by this war and to re-establish their former glory and greatness. The main reason for the participation of the Wangoni in the Majimaji war was a revival of Ngoni nationalism.”50 The same year an African priest from the district, Father James Komba, wrote a thesis on religion among the Ngoni in which he reiterated Ebner:
The proud Ngoni, once the sole masters of the land, could not bear the
humiliation of having masters over them. The medicine-men, who went about at this time advertising their newly discovered medicine which would turn bullets into water (maji), offered a welcome opportunity to the bellicose Ngoni to rise against their European masters.51
Since 1961 some important new contributions have been made. In 1967 John Iliffe synthesized existing interpretations of the Maji Maji rebellion. In his view, participation among the Ngoni was a delayed resistance to German rule. Elsewhere he noted that rebellion had been undertaken to reunite societies that were breaking up.52 And more recently, students supervised by Iliffe have researched motivations behind the struggle. They discovered several general complaints, as well as various particular ones, underlying Ngoni resistance. In general, the Ngoni resented being forced to donate labor to the building of the new Songea fort around 1900; they were unhappy with taxation and the demands it made on food and other resources, and were opposed to the cruelty of the German regime. Individual complaints included their disillusionment with the new system of justice. Iliffe’s students also found that the Ngoni responded to the rebellion in a variety of ways.
The library of the University of Dar es Salaam subsequently made the
accumulated data available in a bound work entitled Maji Maji Research Project Collected Papers. In 1969, two of the researchers, O.B. Mapunda
and G.P. Mpangara, analyzed a selection of this data and published it as
a research paper entitled The Maji Maji War in Ungoni. According to them, the rebellion was the result of grievances over taxation, unpaid long. The Ngoni merely seized the opportunity afforded by the “magicallabor, the decline of Ngoni political power, and the dislocation of the traditional economy and culture. They doubted the importance of the maji itself; rather they felt that political considerations were primary. They noted the internal disunity in Njelu and the varied reactions to the maji, but drew no conclusions from these.53
Common to most interpretations-Booth’s being the noted exception-is a description of the rebellion as the action of a single united people. Those like Iliffe, Mapunda, and Mpangara, who have acknowledged that not all the leaders participated or that many sutu did so under force, have not used this evidence to reinterpret the nature of the conflict, instead setting it apart as an anomaly to the main body of data. However, the nature of Ngoni society, the variable impact of German rule, and the internal political situation in Ungoni before 1905 all suggest that these instances of forced and nonparticipation point to a different hypothesis.
Because the social distance between the sutu and the true Ngoni made the impact of German rule a varied one having a much greater effect on the latter group, no mass grievance could have motivated all the Ngoni. The distinction between the true Ngoni and the sutu was not an absolutely
rigid one; some sutu felt and acted much the same as the true Ngoni. In general, however, a successful overthrow of German control stood to benefit most sutu politically, economically, and socially much less than most true Ngoni. This has been shown clearly in the above analysis; the true Ngoni suffered most from the obligation to give rather than receive tribute and forced labor, from the loss of political and economic power, and from the dislocation of traditional culture. Accepting this fact gives new meaning to the argument that the Ngoni were fighting for independence. The evidence of Booth and some recent informants makes it quite clear that the leadership hoped to free themselves. One of the latter comes from a true Ngoni, who stated:
The main reason why the Ngoni leaders accepted the Maji Maji movement
was that they wanted to get rid of German domination and thus retrieve their former political position.Before the coming of the Germans, the Ngoni leaders had been enjoying a great deal of power and and the privilege of power such as getting a lot of animals and human captives. But under German rule all these privileges were abolished and their sovereign power suppressed.54
On the other hand, the sutu were less committed to independence under Ngoni control. Indeed, most sutu might not have rebelled had they been given a choice. This is supported by various facts. First, many former subjects freed from Ngoni control by the Germans refused to participate. Their numbers included the Ruvuma Yao,55 the Nyasa,56 and many Matengo.57 Furthermore, many of those who did participate knew they had no alternative.In one source,a mission convert described clearly how strong the pressure to take the maji was.58
Forcing people to participate was insufficient,however.Essential to a
German defeat was determination. Here the maji was of crucial importance.
People who had little to gain but much to lose had to be convinced that victory was inevitable, and the maji appears to have served this purpose.59 How durable the fighting spirit was is not clear. Some sutu seem to have fought only once. For example, many Ndendeuli apparently
were mobilized only for the battle at Lumecha. Certainly once the warriors suffered military setbacks, saw the Germans taking their food, dispersing their families, and killing their friends, they lost faith in the maji. After four months the rebellion ended in the Njelu kingdom because the sutu stopped fighting. Only in Mshope, where Chabruma controlled his people with an iron grip, did fighting continue for some while longer.
The lack of commitment among some Ngoni was one factor weakening the struggle.But it was not the only one.In addition,those who advocated the rebellion were unable to unite,although it seems reasonable to assume that they made an attempt to do so. Unity had proved an asset against the Maseko around 1863 and the Hehe in 1878 and 1881; they must have been aware that challenging the Germans required the same achievement.Yet they failed,apparently for the following reasons. In the first place, opinion seems to have divided on how the benefits of success should be allocated. Odd traditions suggest this. One states that Mputa did not fight with other generals because he “feared that if he succeeded in defeating the Germans with help of the other Ngoni generals they would share his reign … this was the general feeling of most of the Ngoni leaders at the time.”60 Also suggestive is thefact that not all the leaders participatedi n the rebellion; among those who did not fight were Putire Gama, Usangila Gama, and Chabruma Gama. Putire may have been influenced by the missionaries, but it seems clear that the other two were discouraged by the outcome of the recent succession issue. Losers, they were unwilling to support a cause in which the victor, Mputa, would reap most of the benefits. In fact, Usangila and Chabruma were in the German fort during the rebellion. Although a few traditions say that Usangila was studying there at the time,61 this seems not to have been the case. His son states that he had earlier taken refuge in the fort during a quarrel with Mputa, when Mputa threatened to assassinate him.62 Another informant agrees that
Mputa planned to kill his rival after defeating the Germans.63 The refusal to support competition occurs at other times in Ngoni history with disastrous results,64 and could easily have happened in 1905.
Lack of time and a strong tradition of military independence also affected the move toward unity. Freedom of action among the military was particularly noticeable in Njelu during the 1890s and apparently continued in 1905. Only once do Mapunda, Mpangara, and others describe the Ngoni as united-at the battle at Lumecha.65 However, evidence from German historians,including the forces there, and Ndendeuli traditions say that only Chabruma’s Mshope warriors took part in the encounter.66 No traditions indicate that Songea’s, Mpambalioto’s, and Kapungu’s forces participated.Finally, while some claim that Mputa’s men were there,this is doubtful in light of the fact that he was fresh enough to fight three further battles in another region shortly after Lumecha,while Chabruma took a considerable time to reorganize.
Indeed,the battles which took place suggest that the rebellion was almost exclusively of a local nature. In early September 1905, Palangu (Mshope) killed a tax collector. Shortly afterward, military leaders in various parts of the two kingdoms killed itinerant traders in their areas.In September and October, Mputa, Songea, and Kapungu (all Njelu) made a number of attacks on the town of Kikole. During the same months, Songea (Njelu) harassed the Germans and their associates who had taken refuge in the fort. In September, Mputa and Mpambalioto(both Njelu) attacked the mission settlements at Peramiho and Kigonsera, and by December had destroyed both.In late October the Mshope combined forces at Lumecha. In early November, Mputa and possibly others (Njelu) fought three separate battles against German troops. In early 1906, Masese Mbano (Njelu) encountered the Germans in southern Njelu. In late January and early February 1906, Chabruma (Mshope) engaged them. In mid-March, Magewa, a Mshope elephant hunter, fought a German contingent, and shortly after that Palangu (Mshope) did the same. Then on 27 May and 25 June,Chabruma and
Palangu(Mshope)met them again.67 Almost all who fought either surrendered
or fled independently or in small groups and at different times.
In conclusion, the Maji Maji rebellion seems to have been the complex outcome of the existing political structure in Ungoni, and as such lacked both the full commitment and the unity such a struggle needed from its people.
The Outcome of the Maji Maji Rebellion
The Maji Maji rebellion in Songea was a disastrous failure. Although the Ngoni enjoyed the upper hand for two months, they were unable to eradicate the German presence from the district. Then the foreigners began to succeed.68 By the time Major Kurt Johannes led the Eighth and Thirteenth Field Companies of the defense forces into Songea in late November 1905, the end was in sight. Johannes intended to smash the Ngoni military state. Everywhere villages were burned, planting crops was forbidden, and men were ruthlessly murdered. In December 1906, Njelu Ngoni leaders began surrendering, and by February 1906 all but a few had given themselves up, been caught, or died. Those who had surrendered or been captured were hanged. In Mshope, Nkosi Chabruma forbade capitulation and continued fighting until late June 1906, when he and a number of leaders retreated into Portuguese East Africa.
The Ngoni were devastated by the rebellion. The true Ngoni leadership had been decimated and any possibility that those remaining could establish an independent military empire was gone forever. The sutu also paid a heavy price. Thousands died in the war and in the severe famine which followed in 1906 and 1907. By 1908 life was returning to normal in Songea. Rehabilitation brought political and economic life and activity back to what it had been before the conflict. The Germans retained the traditional political leadership, although in considerably weakened form,69 headed by true Ngoni who had remained neutral or allied with the foreigners or who had been too young to fight. They were supplemented by outsiders and some local leaders from among the sutu. Economic life changed as German interest swung toward the northern parts of their colony. In Songea people turned to migrant labor to alleviate increasing poverty. Social life changed. Many traditional Ngoni practices and customs began giving way to European ones. The distinction between true Ngoni and sutu gradually ended. The Ngoni reluctantly adapted to colonial rule, although they have never forgotten the past and the great nation that once was theirs. The Maji Maji rebellion in Songea had been a heroic struggle, but one whose slight chance of success was circumvented by its position in the larger structure of contemporary Ngoni political life.
l This essay is part of a larger study of the Ngoni which deals with the persistence of chiefship among them. I am grateful to Roland Oliver, John Iliffe, and Michael Twaddle for their constant advice and assistance, to the Commonwealth Association and Canada Council for their financial help in the course of my research, and to L. Larsonf or checking some of the references used here.
2 For example, John Iliffe, “The Organization of the Maji Maji Rebellion,” Journal of African History, VIII, 3 (1967).
3 Archives of the Benedictine Abbey, Peramiho (Songea area) [hereafter Peramiho Archives], “Kigonsera Chronicles,” 23 Aug. 1905, 21 Sept. 1906; P.H. Gulliver, “An Administrative Survey of the Ngoni and Ndendeuli of Songea District” (unpublished manuscript, 1954), Cory Papers, University of Dar es Salaam Library, Dar es Salaam, 16;E. Ebner, “History of the Wangoni” (unpublished manuscript, Peramiho, 1959), 167; James J. Komba, “God and Man” (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation,University of the Propagation of the Faith, Rome, 1959), 13; O.B. Mapunda and G.P. Mpangara,The Maji Maji War in Ungoni (Dar es Salaam, 1969); O.B. Mapunda and G.P. Mpangara, “The Maji Maji War in Ungoni,” Maji Maji Research Project Collected Papers (Dar es Salaam, 1968) [hereafter MMP] 6/68/4/1, 10-11; R.M. Bell, “The Maji Maji Rebellion in Liwala District,” Tanganyika Notes and Records, 28 (1950); Iliffe, “Organization,” 495; G.C.K. Gwassa, “Kinjikitile and the Ideology of Maji Maji,” in T.O. Ranger and I.N. Kimambo, eds., The Historical Study of African Religion (London, 1972).
4 P.M. Redmond, “A Political History of the Songea Ngoni from the Mid-Nineteenth Century to the Rise of the Tanganyika African National Union” (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of London, 1972), 93-94. This estimate is a rough one based on Booth’s 1905 analysis of their numbers. See John Booth, “Die Nachkommen der Sulukaffern (Wangoni) in Deutsch Ostafrika,” Globus, LXXXVIII (1905).
5 Frederick Fiilleborn, Das Deutsche Njassa und Ruvuma Gebiet (Berlin, 1906), 132, quoting Jahresbericht uiber die Entwicklung der Deutschen Schutzgebirte in Afrika und in der Sidsee im Jahre 1903/04 (Berlin, 1905).
6 For this variation in spelling from the southern African Nguni equivalent, see Redmond, “Political History,” 100, which is based on Ebner to Redmond, personal correspondence, 17 Dec. 1970.
7 For some details on assimilation, see Ebner, “Wangoni,” 37; E. Ebner, “History of the Wangoni: Revised Edition” (unpublished manuscript, Archiv der Erzabtei St. Ottilien, St. Ottilien,B avaria),8 3-84, 92-93;G ulliver, “AdministrativeS urvey,” 114; Redmond, “Political History,” 97-100, 159-165
8 Ebner, “Revised History,” 83-84, 92-93.
9 Tom Von Prince, “Geschichte der Magwangwaran ach Erzahlungd es Arabers
Raschid bin Masaud und des Fussi, Bruders des vor drei Jahren verstorbenen Sultans der Magwangwara Mharuli,” Mitteilungen von Forchungsreisenden und Gelehrten aus den DeutschenS chutzgebietenV, II (1894), 221-222, n. 3; Ebner, “Wangoni,” 105-106, 134-139, 141-142; Mapunda and Mpangara, Maji Maji, 112.
10 For comments on German rule, see T.O. Ranger, “African Reactions to the Imposition of Colonial Rule in East and Central Africa,” in L.H. Gann and Peter Duignan, eds., Colonialismin Africa,1 870-1960,I (London, 1969); John Iliffe, “The Effects of the MajiMaji Rebellion on German Occupation Policy in East Africa,” in P. Gifford and R. Louis, eds., Britain and German in Africa( London and New Haven, 1967); R.A. Austen, Northwest Tanzania under German and British Rule: Colonial Policy and Tribal Politics, 1889-1939 (London and New Haven, 1968).
11 Deutsches Kolonialblatt, XII, 11 (1 June 1901), 389-390, notes that some leaders offered labor to the Germans.
12 Chiefs did not collect taxes in all areas. Marcia Wright, German Missions in Tanganyika, 1891-1941 (London, 1971), 75-76, notes dissatisfaction at askari, or soldiers, collecting taxes.
13 Deutsches Kolonialblatt, XII, 11 (1 June 1901), 390.
14 Evidence of B.K. Mpangala, a resident of Songea’s town, MMP 6/68/4/3/13; evidence of L. Moyo, MMP 6/68/4/3/14, 6; Ebner to Redmond, personal communication,
17-21 Oct. 1971.
15 See “The Story of the Likuyu Area,” Mss. Afr. s. 585, Rhodes House, Oxford University, Oxford, for information on its administration.
16 “Tanganyika District Book” (unpublished manuscript, Library of the School of Oriental and African Studies, London), IV, 237.
17 For one example, see Mapunda and Mpangara MajiMaji, 14.
18 Alfons Adams, Im Dienste des Kreuzes (St. Ottilien, 1899), 132; “Bericht uber den Bezirku nd die MilitarstationS songea,” DeutschesK olonialblatXt, V, 18 (1904), 565.19DeutscheKs olonialblatItX, , 12 (15 June 1898), 350.
20 See, for example, C. Spiss, “Peramiho Chronicle,” Missions bldtteOr:r gand er St. Benediktus-Missionsgenossenschzauft S t. Ottilien[ hereafterM issionsbldtter(1] 899), 119.
22 Komba, “God and Man,” 11.
23 Prince, “Geschichte der Magwangwara.”
24 Ibid., 217-218.
25Ebner, “Wangoni,” 130, 158; Ebner to Redmond, personal communication, 17-21Oct. 1971.
27 Ebner, “Wangoni,” 121, notes Putire disputing with Mharule.
28 T.W. Turuka, “Maji Maji Rebellion in Njelu,” MMP 6/68/3/1.
29 Tanzania National Archives, Dar es Salaam [hereafter TNA]/155, Songea District Book, vol. 4, 87.
30 C. Spiss, correspondence, Missionsblatter (March, 1901); Ebner, “Wangoni,” 158-159.
31 Gulliver, “Administrative Survey,” 17.
32 MMP 6/68/2/13/1 and MMP 6/68/4/1 contain details on this.
33 Peramiho Archives, “Kigonsera Chronicles,” 1901, 1902, passim.
34 TNA/G9/6, Albinus to Government, no. 68 of 15 Feb. 1904; Missions blitter(1903-1904), 33-35.
35 Booth, “Nachkommen der Sulukaffern,” 197, comments on the decline.
36 Walter Busse, Bericht iber eine im Antrage des kaiserliche Gouvernements von Deutsch- Ostafrika ausgefiihrte Forschungsreise durch den siudlichen Theil dieser Kolonie (Berlin,1902). During 1902 this work was published serially in the Dar es Salaam newspaper Deutsch-OstafrikaniscZheei tung[ hereafterD OAZ].T he source used here is DOAZ, 5 July 1902.
37 C. Spiss, correspondence, Missionsblitter (1898), 103; Deutsches Kolonialblatt, X, 2 (15 Jan. 1899), 54-55.
38 Evidence of Kawahili,M MPR /S/1/69.
39 Many traditions in the MMP6 /68 series make this clear.
40 Gwassa, “Kinjikitile.”
41 Iliffe, “Organization.” I am grateful to L. Larson for information on Maji Maji in Mahenge.
42 Noted in Mapunda and Mpangara, Maji Maji, 15.
43 Deutsches Zentralarchiv (Potsdam) Reichskolonialamt [hereafter RKA], file 723, Gotzen to Foreign Office, 10 Nov. 1905; Graf von Gotzen, Deutsch-Ostafrika im Aufstand 1905/06 (Berlin, 1909); “Denkschrift uber die Ursachen des Aufstandes in D.O.A. 1905,” in Stenographische Berichte iiber die Verhandlung des Reichstages, Anlagen, 1905-1906 session, Vierter Anlageband: Aktenstuck, no. 194. I am grateful to John Iliffe for this reference.
44 RKA, file 728, Colonial Economic Committee to Foreign Office, 23 Jan. 1906.
45 Peramiho Archives, “KigonseraC hronicles,”2 3 Aug. 1905, 21 Sept. 1906.
46 Peramiho Archives, “Die Benediktinermissionu nd der Aufstand in DOA vom
Jahre 1905 oder Stellungnahmed er Benediktinermissionz ur Denkschrift iber die Ursachen des Aufstandes in DOA und Anderes,” Thomas Spreiter (manuscript in unmarked blue file, n. d.). I am grateful to John Iliffe for showing me a copy of this document.
47 Iliffe,” Effects of the MajiMaji Rebellion,” 561.
48 Bell, “Liwala District.”
49 Gulliver”, AdministrativeS urvey,” 16-17.
50 Ebner ” Wangoni,”167.
51 Komba, “God and Man,” 13.
52 Iliffe,” Organization,”4 95; Iliffe, “The Effects of the Maji Maji Rebellion,” 561; Iliffe, “The Age of Improvement and Differentiation (1907-45),” in I.N. Kimambo and A.J. Temu, eds., A History of Tanzania(Nairobi;1 969), 130-131.
53 Mapunda and Mpangara, Maji Maji.
54 Evidence of L. Moyo, MMP 6/68/4/3/14.
55 RKA, file 700, Kurt Johannes, “Bericht iiber die Tatigkeit des Expeditions-Korps Major Johannes in der Zeit vom II Marz bis 3 Mai 1906,” 18 June 1906, notes Ruvuma Yao support.
56 Peramiho Archives, “Kigonsera Chronicles,” 29 Sept. 1905, notes the Nyasa as friendly to the Germans.
57 Missionsbldtt(e1r9 05-1906),8 7-91, states that the Matengo stayed neutral. Other reports indicate that some joined the rebellion.
58 G.C.K. Gwassa and John Iliffe, Records of the Maji Maji Rising. Part I (Dar esSalaam, 1967), 20.
59For example, the evidence of M. Luoga, MMP 6/68/2/3/2.
60 Evidence of Luambano,M MP6 /68/1/3/4.
61 Evidence of S. Usangila, son of Usangila, M MP 6/68/4/3/16.
63 T.W Turuka,” MajiMaji Rebellion in Njelu,” MMP6 /68/3/1.
64 For example, in the succession dispute that took place in Mshope between 1952 and 1954. For information on this dispute, see TNA/16/37/105; Redmond, “Political History,” ch. 7.
65Mapunda and Mpangara Maji Maji.
66 G6tzen, Aufstand, 124-125, 206; Ebner, “Wangoni,” 178. MMP R/S/1/69/lb,
among others, notes the Germans fighting the Mshope Ngoni. This and other sources refer to this battle as the Namabengo or Lumecha battle. This is in contrast to Mapunda and Mpangara, Maji Maji, 23-24, who claim that there were two battles, one at Namabengo, the other at Lumecha, in late 1905. I do not follow their suggestion, as other sources do not support it. In particular, the Maji Maji records collected in 1968, which Mapunda and Mpangarau see as their main source of information, do not substantiate
their claim. Of the forty traditions collected, none confirms that two battles took place. Although two note a battle at Namabengo, one says that it was at “Lumecha, or what we may regard as old Namabengo” (evidence of M. Ngonyani, MMP 6/68/4/3/2), while eight describe a battle at Lumecha. Of the other sources, Gulliver, “Administrative Survey,” 15-16, refers to the Lumecha battle. I call it the Lumecha battle to facilitate discussion of the claims Mapunda, Mpangara, and others make concerning it.
67For details, see Redmond, “Political History;” 251-270.
69 I refer here to the retention of families noted in Mapunda and Mpangara, Maji Maji,29; Ebner, “Wangoni,” 183; Deutsch Ostafrikanische Rundschau, III, 14 (19 Feb. 1910).
Author: P. H. Gulliver, 1974
Before he became a professional linguist, Wilfred Whiteley was employed in anthropological research by the then Government of Tanganyika in the Southern Province of that Territory (1948-51). In 1949 he was requested to investigate the customary law on chiefly succession in the Njelu Ngoni chiefdom of Songea District, where dispute had arisen over the appointment of a new chief. In 1952-3 I was asked to continue and to widen those inquiries, both as part of a general anthropological survey and because a succession dispute had developed in the other Ngoni chiefdom in the same District. Whiteley had left a brief memorandum and a few notes which I was able to use as a starting- point. Some of the resulting data have been published elsewhere (Gulliver, 1954, 1955, and 1971). It is fitting, however, to return to those materials in memory of my old friend and colleague, and as a reminder of his sustained interest in social anthropology.
The great migration of the Ngoni under Zwangendaba from northern Zululand to south-western Tanzania (c. 1821-45) is well known in African history.2 Following the death of Zwangendaba, conflicts over the succession and future policy caused the break-up of the original Ngoni group, and eventually a number of independent chiefdoms were established in Zambia, Tanzania, and Malawi (Gulliver, 1955, 18).3
A senior lieutenant of Zwangendaba, but not an agnatic kinsman, Zulu Njelu, and a lesser leader, Mbonani Mshope, together with the people under their command, broke away and migrated eastwards into southern Tanzania. Under their immediate successors two independent chiefdoms were finally established to the east of Lake Nyasa (Songea District) in about 1862. Each of these-Njelu and Mshope-was a predatory military group whose forces raided and plundered widely on all sides, rapidly increasing their size by the absorption of war-captives. At the close of the nineteenth century each chiefdom acceded to German colonial authority, but each continued, more or less, the established r6gime until they were defeated and devastated punitively as a result of partici- pation in the Maji Maji Rebellion, 1905-7. The two chiefdoms therefore existed and developed for some 50 years only before being forcibly brought within a colonial r6gime which compelled political subordination and modification and put an end to military enterprise.4 During that 50 years of warfare and expansion, and despite occasional tensions, the two chiefdoms remained friendly and in close touch and at least on one occasion they allied together (against an invading Hehe army, as described later).
In each chiefdom broad status categories were based by birth on historical, ethnic criteria. In descending order these were : Gama (in Njelu) or Tavete (in Mshope), agnates of the great chief and of the same kibongo ‘clan’ 5; Swazi, the agnatic descendants of original adherents of Zwangendaba from the northern Nguni area of south-eastern Africa; ‘old Ngoni’, followers and their agnatic descendants taken (by capture or voluntarily) into Zwangendaba’s group during the northward migration through Mozambique, Rhodesia, Zambia, and south- western Tanzania; ‘new Ngoni’ (referred to as sutu ‘conquered people’), persons and their descendants taken in warfare at the time of or following the establishment of the chiefdoms in the Songea area. These were not caste-like categories, however. Intermarriage occurred among the first three, and ‘new Ngoni ‘ wives were taken by men of those first three. A few ‘ new Ngoni ‘ men took wives from higher categories towards the end of the century. Membership by birth in the higher categories did not necessarily prescribe military leadership, nor authority over ‘ new Ngoni ‘ as head of a segment, nor wealth. There were many royal agnates, Swazi, and ‘ old Ngoni’ who never achieved much if any success; but with a single exception (a minor lieutenant in Mshope) all the principal leaders came from those categories. Such leaders were not in practice, however, ranked according to status by birth but principally by achievement in politico-military enterprise.
Population figures for the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are not, of course, available. By 1948 (the earliest fairly reliable figures), the Njelu chiefdom contained about 75,000 people of whom approximately 1,900 (2 6%) were of Gama or Swazi descent, and approximately 11,000 (c. 15%/) were of’ old Ngoni’ descent. In Mshope the total population in 1948 was about 31,000 of whom approximately 3,500 (18%) were of Tavete, Swazi, or ‘old Ngoni’ origins. These proportions may be rough indications of the relative proportions at the end of the nineteenth century, for there is no evidence of later differential reproduction rates among these populations. Each great chief (nkosi) held office through agnatic descent from the chief- dom’s founder. Each had a number of senior lieutenants (s. nduna) who were agnatic kin, Swazi, or’ old Ngoni ‘. Each nduna had his own lieutenants, and a great chief had lesser lieutenants (s. lidoda) who came from all status categories; and in some cases these men had their own lieutenants (s. mnunzana, but more often also referred to as lidoda). Each lieutenant headed a segment of the population within the wider segment headed by his immediate superior, on the ideal pattern of a segmentary state. A lieutenant was both the military leader and the civil authority over the people of his segment, but he was subordinate to the head of the superior, containing segment.
Male war-captives were allocated to a segment in the idiom of kinship, becoming ‘younger brother’ or ‘son’ of the segment head or one of its members. Segments had therefore the image of patrilineal descent groups, but this was not emphasized outside of the political ideological context and real kinship rights and obligations were not postulated beyond cognatic and affinal relations. Neither were segments at all significant in connexion with marriage choice. Female captives were taken in marriage by the men, or their sons, to whom they were allocated.
There is little indication that war-captives sought to escape from Ngoni country once they were brought there, though perhaps a very few did. Their homes were anything from 50 to 300 miles away, and the Ngoni chiefdoms early became surrounded by a ring of uninhabited country (except for the Matengo mountains to the west of Njelu) which took more than a day’s walk to cross at the real risk of recapture and death. In the 1950’s I talked with many of the later captives (then elderly people) : the consensus was that they did not know how to reach their distant homelands, and that in any case they assumed (probably rightly) that their old villages had been destroyed and that their kin were killed, captured, or refugees in unknown areas. War-captives were given security in their new affiliations, the prestige of becoming ‘Ngoni’, and for males the opportunity of participating in and profiting from Ngoni raiding. They shared in what seems to have been the euphoric ethos of Ngoni success and wealth. They obtained land to cultivate, new ‘kin’ with whom to cooperate, and a leader to follow.
Segments could increase or decrease relatively in size, and they and their heads changed in status accordingly, as new war-captives were allocated to them. Further segments could be created under new lieutenants. The headship of a segment could be gained by agnatic succession, but alternatively it could be taken over by the ambitious head of a subordinate segment who had demon- strated military skill, gathered many followers, and won the approval of the superordinate leader. A lieutenant with his segment was sometimes reallocated to another superior segment, and occasionally he could achieve roughly equal status with his former superior at the decision of their joint superior in the hierarchy. Success in predatory warfare-skill in leadership, captives and booty taken-was the main key to lieutenants’ rewards, to their relative status in the hierarchy and degree of autonomy, and to the changing position of their seg- ments in the total structure of the chiefdom. Because of rapid expansion and a marked achievement ethic, there was considerable fluidity in the structure: relative stability had not emerged in either chiefdom by the end of the period.
Before the two chiefdoms became finally located in the Songea area the original leaders of each-Zulu and Mbonani-had both died. Their successors came to office as the end was made to the long migration and after the defeat and expulsion of an earlier Ngoni group in that area.6 Thereafter, successive great chiefs had in practice, deliberately or not, to deal with certain common factors: the position of leadership, from great chief to smallest segment head, affording rights and authority over people rather than over particular territory and non-human resources; a rapidly growing population and the need to allocate and deal with subordinate politico-military responsibility; the allocation of the spoils of warfare–human captives, cattle, foodstuffs, material goods; the fact that success by subordinates varied and changed, and so therefore did rewards and relative status; the potential or actual threats as subordinates became powerful enough to secede with their own segments; conflict over succession to the chiefship, and its aftermath; increasing detachment from the Nguni cultural tradition (of south-eastern Africa) and increasing cultural heterogeneity and innovation with a growing majority of ‘new Ngoni’ from east-central Africa; a poor natural environment in which shifting cultivation required periodic moves as soil fertility and locally available land became exhausted; the increasing impingement towards the end of the century by Coastal slave-traders, reconnoitring missionaries, and German colonial forces.
As a result of strategies adopted, and other factors internal to each chiefdom separately, despite many structural and cultural similarities by the end of the century the two chiefdoms had become distinguished in a major organizational feature: the degree of centralization. The Mshope chiefdom had become a highly centralized unit, with no major nduna (chief’s lieutenant), with virtually all segment heads (but not all segment members) living next to the chief’s capital village, and with the chief himself as the civil authority and the dominant war-leader both strategically and in the field. By contrast, in Njelu chiefdom there was a marked degree of decentralization: there were ten manduna (chiefs, or senior lieutenants of the great chief) exercising autonomous authority over their major segments, living in villages comprising their own segment members geographically quite separate from the great chief’s capital village. These chiefs initiated the principal military expeditions under their own direction in the field, whilst the great chief seldom if ever led a raiding force.
The purpose of this paper is briefly to examine analytically the factors and processes which produced this significantly different development.7 For convenience, the evolution of each chiefdom is dealt with separately, beginning with Njelu for which I and almost all other sources have the richer and more reliable data.
Njelu chiefdom : decentralization
The founder of this chiefdom, Zulu son of Njelu Gama, was an acknowledged senior lieutenant of Zwangendaba 8 and head of a well-established segment of the original Ngoni migrant group. At the time of his secession from that group (c. 1850) he already had five senior lieutenants: Mawaso (his half-brother), Mpofu (his patrilateral cousin), Chombera (Swazi), and two ‘old Ngoni’, Chikuse (Nyami) and Songea (Kalanga). Chikuse was recognized as his senior- most lieutenant and was the holder of war medicines. There were other, lesser lieutenants also, and the group had already gained a degree of internal segmentation.
After nearly 10 years of further migration and raiding, during which time the group increased in numbers, Zulu died. At about the same time or soon after Zulu’s cousin died, and his half-brother together with Zulu’s eldest son and two other young adult sons left the group to rejoin the Mbelwa segment of Ngoni, by then established in northern Malawi. Whether they were driven out as a result of political conflict (or for other reasons) is not known; but the effect was that two senior royal 9 lieutenants, Zulu’s probable heir, and two potential royal lieutenants were removed from the scene. The three remaining senior lieutenants (none of whom was an agnate of Zulu) agreed to choose the remaining eldest son of Zulu, Hawayi, as successor. They passed over the remaining seniormost son, Mhalule (of the seniormost house of Zulu), because of his relative youth and inexperience, although Hawayi was little better qualified in practice. There was little or no conflict over this since the three senior lieutenants were so dominant and the senior son was in no position to recruit support for his own claim. It was significant, however, that the choice was made by those three, non-royal heads of major segments of the young chiefdom.
At about this time the Njelu group (in alliance with the Mshope group) defeated and expelled the Maseko Ngoni from the Songea area,10 and soon after the chiefdom was settled there, to the north-west of the modern Songea town. Hawayi, the new great chief, was in no position to challenge his father’s lieu- tenants who had put him in office, who were experienced leaders and had large segments under their authority. Fairly soon after, a fourth senior lieutenant emerged (Magagura, a Swazi) to head another major segment. The major segments based on Zulu’s four ‘houses’ (i.e. sets of his wives and their sons) had all been heavily depleted by the departure of the three sons and many of their followers. In effect only the rumps of houses I and II remained as major segments, headed by Mhalule and Hawayi himself respectively, whilst houses III and IV virtually disappeared.11
The four senior lieutenants seem to have wished to maintain the unity of the chiefdom and were content to give allegiance to the new great chief whom they had selected. Hawayi 12 was in a weak position and necessarily had to concede considerable freedom to his senior lieutenants. He appears to have been at least a competent co-ordinator as the new chiefdom embarked on persistent raiding of the surrounding peoples in southern Tanzania and northern Mozambique. Several military expeditions were made by the ‘chief’s army’ (i.e. a single fighting force drawn from all segments of the chiefdom), though it is unclear whether he himself led such an army. Certainly expeditions were also recruited from the major segments separately, and led by each senior lieutenant. These latter increased in frequency whilst the idea of a’ chief’s army’ declined and seems to have disappeared before the end of Hawayi’s reign in about 1874. This is suggested not only by accounts of raiding forces but also by the com- monly acknowledged fact that during this reign an age-regiment (the Ngoni military unit) no longer comprised all the coeval young men of the whole chiefdom. Thereafter, although new age-regiment names applied throughout the chiefdom, fighting units became effectively limited to coevals within a major segment under the segment head. At about this time the senior lieutenants came to acquire the title of nduna (to be glossed as ‘chief’ in reference to Njelu), although that term could also be applied to lesser lieutenants as a mark of prestige and compliment.
During most of Hawayi’s reign the chiefdom comprised a consolidated residential unit, with the great chief’s village at the centre and villages of the major segments clustering around. As local land was exhausted in agriculture the whole chiefdom shifted to a new location where fresh land was available- i.e. after about half a dozen years. But by the end of the reign the growth of population through the assimilation of war-captives was such that it scarcely remained possible to continue the concentration which had originated in the earlier requirements of the smaller, migratory war group. The local miombo woodland soils are poor, yielding crops for only about three successive seasons and requiring 20 or more years of subsequent natural fallow (Gulliver, 1971, 40-3). It is possible that the chiefs took the opportunity to re-emphasize their autonomy under these circumstances; but in any case the new pattern that began to emerge was an expression of that autonomy and strengthened it further. From that time the successive residential locations of the major segments and of the great chief’s village 13 show that the consolidated unit was no longer maintained. Instead each chief and his major segment focused in a general area relative to but at some distance from the great chief’s village (up to a day’s walk away). The great chief’s village and satellites, and the various chiefs’ villages and their satellites, thereafter shifted independently according to land needs as assessed by the chiefs themselves with their own lieutenants. First-fruits ceremonies seem to have ceased for the whole chiefdom at about the same time. The new pattern was that the major segments based on the two remaining houses of Zulu (Maposeni and Mpitimbi), together with chief 13 The sites of the main villages were fairly well remembered in the middle of the twentieth century.
Magagura’s major segment, remained more or less in the central and north- central areas. Other major segments were disposed roughly as follows: north- west-chief Chombera; west–chief Putire; south-west-chief Chikuse; east and south-east–chief Songea. After this geographical separation of the major segments from the great chief’s capital, it is reported that the chiefs regularly visited the capital and the great chief occasionally visited their villages. But unlike the practice in some African states, a chief did not keep an official residence nor a representative at the capital. As a result there was diminished co-ordination of military activities and administration after that time.
The death of Hawayi (c. 1874) raised no special problem. The chiefs agreed to the succession of his younger brother, Mhalule. He had previously been chief of the major segment based on his father’s (Zulu) house I; and although he became the great chief, in many ways he continued as head of an autonomous major segment, and perhaps not much more than primus inter pares. Zulu’s house II (formerly headed by great chief Hawayi) was continued as a major segment under Hawayi’s younger half-brother, Mlamilo. The general pattern now was of seven largely autonomous segments, residentially separate, each shifting locally and independently in response to land needs. Raiding parties originated mainly from each segment, though two or more could loosely ally together in major expeditions. Mhalule seems not to have led a war party in the field, though he and his capital village served still as a useful focus for co- operative consultation and co-ordination. Retrospective reports from mid- twentieth-century informants agree that a proportion of war-captives and booty was given to the great chief on the return of raiding expeditions, but that the main allocation of these spoils of war was controlled by the chief concerned, and not by the great chief. This meant that the head of each major segment was able to control the rewards for service among his subordinates and dependants; and in particular he could control the relative growth of sub-segments and the creation of new ones, and the relative status of his lieutenants. War-captives were, of course, the principal source of the growth of segments at each level. Thus the great chief had little patronage to dispense outside of his own major segment.
Common memory has it that the chiefs were not much concerned with the internal civil administration of their segments, leaving it to their subordinates (heads of sub-segments) to take care of affairs among their dependants. These subordinates were able to mount minor raids and so, with war-captives and booty, to seek to achieve the prestige of military success. However, the potential decentralization within a major segment was restricted as the chiefs continued to initiate and lead the more important military expeditions, retaining the power to allocate this main source of war-captives. This meant that whilst there was competition between sub-segment heads (lieutenants) for military success, prestige, and war booty, there was seldom direct confrontation between these men and their superior. In effect (and perhaps through deliberate intent) there was a policy of divide and rule within a major segment-a policy which was not practised at the chiefdom level because (as I have shown summarily) the great chief was in too weak a position. There are no reports of overt competition between the chiefs themselves. The reasons for this may lie in the territorial segregation and autonomous military competence of each chief. But in addition a pertinent factor must have been that this was a period of uninterrupted military success and population expansion. The peoples within reach of Nielu Ngoni raiding-east as far as the Indian Ocean (350 miles) and south deep into Miozambique-offered little resistance. They lived mainly in acephalous societies without the means of organizing concerted defence, nor were they culturally oriented to military endeavour. Each Njelu chief appears to have been absorbed in planning and leading predatory expeditions, celebrating successes on the return home, and distributing captives and booty. Each chief tended to raid outwards from his own location in the chiefdom, so that each had roughly his own sector of interest. Competition in the field seldom or never occurred. In brief, there seems to have been neither need nor desire to compete for spoils because so much was readily available for all. Meanwhile the great chief’s focal co-ordination was adequate to maintain sufficient but loose unity.
During Mhalule’s reign (c. 1874-89) there was, however, something of a counteraction to decentralization. Mhalule himself (unlike his brother previously) was a mature man at the time of his succession and experienced in military command as head of a major segment during the preceding reign. He seems to have been ambitious to emulate his father’s (Zulu) pre-eminence, though his opportunities were small. It is reported that he made a practice of holding large feasts frequently at his capital village to which came the chiefs and their followers. At least the idea of his capital as the focus of the whole chiefdom was kept alive; and he acquired a useful reputation for generosity and hospitality by this expenditure of the cattle and other booty he obtained from his subordinates’ raiding.
His position was adventitiously strengthened when the Ngoni were seriously threatened by external attack. In about 1878 a raiding army of the Hehe (or at least led by Hehe) invaded the Songea area from the north, devastated the Mshope chiefdom, and penetrated deeply into Njelu territory. It is probable that this army withdrew after a time in order to return home, though latter-day Ngoni informants claim that it was driven off by Njelu forces. In any case, Mhalule was able to take the initiative in co-ordinating Njelu defence in the unforeseen emergency, and so to re-emphasize his central, superordinate role. A second Hehe force arrived in 1881, but this time the Ngoni were not so taken by surprise. Mhalule led a combined Njelu army, with a force from the Mshope chiefdom as subordinate ally. It is not clear if he acted as general in the field; but after a pitched battle and a number of skirmishes the Hehe were constrained to withdraw without penetrating to the residential areas of the chiefdom. Undoubtedly as a result Mhalule’s personal prestige was heightened, and it is probable that the need for centralized organization and leadership was stressed and its possibility demonstrated. The great chief’s lieutenants, under common danger, had been willing to accede to alliance under him and to recognize his valuable function.14
During Mhalule’s reign (but the dates are unclear) contacts were made with the Mbelwa Ngoni chiefdom beyond Lake Malawi. This chiefdom had developed from the segment of Zwangendaba’s group from which the Zulu Njelu group had seceded; and it was to this chiefdom that three of Zulu’s sons had gone at the time of his death (see above, p. 86). Mhalule sent messages inviting his brothers to return. The eldest, Gwaselepasi, made a visit but soon returned to Mbelwa. The two younger half-brothers, Fusi and Mkuso, came and decided to stay. They became chiefs of major segments based on the two reconstituted junior houses of Zulu. Apparently at least one reason behind Mhalule’s action was to gain new lieutenants who might be expected to give direct loyalty to him as great chief and senior brother, in contrast to the other chiefs. It was an attempt to reinforce his central position; but the new major segments were in fact created at the expense of reducing the size of the existing major segment based on house II.15 Moreover, both Fusi and Mkuso seem to have modelled their policies on those of the other chiefs and to have sought increasing autonomy as their own raiding was successful and the size of their segments grew.
Mhalule’s strategy was not, therefore, particularly effective. Indeed, by creating a potential royal faction as against a non-royal faction 16 he might have succeeded only in splitting his chiefdom irrevocably-although the occasion for such confrontation did not arise. To further his policy, Mhalule attempted the traditional Nguni practice of allocating his wives to reside at the villages of his senior lieutenants. There they could represent the great chief’s authority, act as channels of communication, and perhaps provide a justifiable reason for his regular visits to the headquarters of each major segment. This stratagem was no more successful. Chief Songea refused to accept a wife of the great chief in his village, whilst other chiefs who did were able to nullify the intended effects.
Towards the end of Mhalule’s reign, Zamchaya (eldest son of Zulu’s eldest son) came from the Mbelwa chiefdom, and was made lieutenant over a lesser segment within house I. At the death of Mhalule he claimed the chiefship, with some support of the royal chiefs. The leading non-royal chiefs agreed, however, in supporting the seniormost surviving son of Zulu, Mlamilo of house II. Their reasons are not known. But Mlamilo was at least middle-aged by this time and was more or less chronically ill and enfeebled. Unlike his predecessor, he did little to strengthen centralized authority in the chiefdom. Both non-royal and royal chiefs continued to increase the size and to maintain the autonomy of their segments. By now chief Songea was not only head of the largest segment (perhaps almost a quarter of the total population) but he was acknowledged as the most influential leader in the chiefdom. He seems to have led meetings and discussions with both Coastal slave-traders and the early German mission- aries and colonial officers.7 So impressed were the German authorities that they called their new administrative district and its headquarters by his name.
At the end of the century the chiefdom was still expanding until the Germans put an end to raiding. At the death of Mlamilo in 1899 both Fusi and Mkuso (surviving sons of Zulu) made claims to the chiefship, as also did Mputa, senior- most grandson of Zulu, now come from Mbelwa’s chiefdom. By now a German military-administrative base had been established at the new Songea township, and therefore German influence may have been important. Mlamilo seems to have been recognized only as one’ sultani ‘ along with the chiefs who were given the same title. Mputa became ‘sultani’ of the Maposeni (house I) segment without the full support of the other chiefs, and he was seen by Ngoni and Germans alike as little more than primus inter pares. It is significant, neverthe- less, that at the outbreak of the Maji Maji Rebellion in the region in 1905 Mputa’s village was the central rallying point for the Njelu chiefdom. Decentralization, though well advanced, had not therefore reached the point of culminating disintegration of the chiefdom into its constituent parts.
As a result of the unsuccessful rebellion, great chief Mputa, chief Songea, and other Njelu leaders were executed, whilst others and their dependants fled in all directions. After some two years of punitive measures the Germans appointed or recognized new ‘ sultani ‘ (junior agnates of former office-holders) over each segment. Strict military control and a nascent civil administration were maintained thereafter. The Njelu chiefdom was later reconstituted under indirect rule policy by the British colonial authorities, but by then both external and internal political conditions had radically changed.
Centralization in Mshope chiefdom
The founder of this chiefdom, Mbonani son of Mshope Tavete, apparently was not an important lieutenant of Zwangendaba, nor did he play a significant part in the northward migration of the original Ngoni group.18 At the time of 92 P. H. GULLIVER his secession from that group, in association with Zulu Njelu, it is most probable that he led only a small group of followers (possibly much smaller than that of Zulu). His only senior lieutenant was his half-brother, Mnukwa. It is possible that other, lesser lieutenants emerged only during the following decade before the final settlement in the Songea area; but in any case none had become well established enough by that time to head a major segment.
At the death of Mbonani the succession was straightforward. His eldest son, Chipeta, was in his early thirties 19 and had acquired experience and prestige as a war leader. Other sons of Mbonani were still youths and offered no rivalry; and his paternal uncle, making no claim to be more than head of a major segment, supported the new chief. Thus the chiefdom, newly settled about 20 miles north-east of the modern Songea town, was a small, compact unit with little internal division. Chipeta was firmly in control, with only minor lieu- tenants of Swazi or ‘old Ngoni’ origin; and at least some of his younger brothers died before they could become important segment leaders. Chipeta’s coeval, patrilateral cousin, Mpepo, seems to have remained clearly subordinate to the latter’s father, Mnukwa.
The size of the chiefdom continued to grow as a result of successful raiding. Chipeta himself both initiated war parties and led them in the field. Age- regiments comprised coeval young men of the whole chiefdom. The allocation of war-captives and booty was strictly controlled by Chipeta, which meant, of course, that he was able to control rewards and the relative status of subordinate leaders and their segments. His policy appears to have been to develop a relatively large number of small segments headed by lesser lieutenants. This may have been a deliberate intent to restrain potential competition for authority, but in any case there is no evidence of any senior lieutenants (except the ageing Mnukwa) in this reign, nor of any threat to his supremacy.
When the first Hehe army invaded the Songea area (c. 1878), Chipeta is said to have ignored it in the apparent disbelief that it offered any threat. At least he was unprepared to oppose its advance. His capital village was overrun and he himself was killed there. His people scattered in panic as the Hehe army continued westwards into Njelu. After the departure of the invaders, Mnukwa reassembled the chiefdom, directed the rebuilding of destroyed villages, and acted as regent. By now he was an old man and he made no claim to the succession either for himself or for his son, Mpepo. During an interregnum of about three years there was dispute over the succession. Chabruma made claim as the eldest son of Chipeta, but this was challenged by his half-brother, Palangu, on the grounds that Palangu’s mother was the seniormost wife (and also of Swazi origin) whilst Chabruma’s mother was not only junior but had in fact not been married by Chipeta but merely taken in concubinage as a war- captive. Chabruma was the older and more experienced man, and perhaps the more able; and he was supported by his aged uncle and most of the minor lieutenants. Eventually Palangu agreed to accept Chabruma as the new chief.20
The succession was further troubled by the concurrent death of Mnukwa and the claim of his son, Mpepo, to a large share in the wealth (principally cattle) of Chipeta. This seems not to have been an indirect claim to the chiefship, and most twentieth-century Ngoni agree that office and wealth are separable inheritances. Mpepo’s claim to a share of inheritance of property may therefore have been quite a legitimate one, but it was denied by Chabruma. In dis- satisfaction Mpepo seceded with his (formerly his father’s) segment and moved northwards some 80 miles into what is now southern Mahenge. Thus the chief’s major lieutenant and a potential rival for power, left the chiefdom.
About this time (c. 1881) the second Hehe invasion occurred. Although it is reasonably clear that the Ngoni offensive against it was mounted by great chief Mhalule of Njelu, yet Chabruma at a minimum shared in the success of the enforced withdrawal of the Hehe, and certainly he led the Mshope army as its single principal commander.
A year or two after this, Chabruma gave sanctuary to a small group led by Sakamaganga, second son of a Bena chief in southern Mahenge. Mpepo now allied with Kiwanga (elder brother of Sakamaganga and his legitimate chief) and the two led an invasion force into Mshope (c. 1885). It was driven off without great difficulty by a united force led by Chabruma.
Both in the second Hehe invasion and in that of the Mpepo group, Palangu supported his brother. Fairly obviously, Chabruma had demonstrated his able leadership in warfare and his authority over the whole chiefdom. As a result of the Mpepo secession and possibly some minor secessions to Njelu, the chiefdom was reduced in size, whilst confidence had been severely shaken by the Hehe devastation. Chabruma as the new chief took the praise for what was a successful reconstruction and defence. Thus his power was such that he was able to con- tinue his father’s authoritarian policy. Mnukwa’s former segment had gone; and of the two houses of Chipeta, the first at this time contained only young sons and seems not to have formed the basis of a major segment of the chiefdom. In the second house, that of Chabruma himself, only Palangu was an adult man; and Chabruma permitted him to be no more than a minor lieutenant. In effect the chiefdom consisted of a single major segment (comparable to a Njelu major segment) based on house II of former chief Chipeta, with Chabruma at its head.
Chabruma followed Chipeta’s policy in insisting that all of his lieutenants 21 lived immediately adjacent to the chief’s capital village. At first, and into Chabruma’s reign, the whole chiefdom moved as a unit in the periodic requirement to obtain access to new woodland in the shifting cultivation regime. Gradually, however, as the population began to increase again with the renewal of marauding warfare, the commoner population began to spread out and to drift eastwards and north-eastwards into unoccupied country, seeking fresh agricultural land. Chabruma permitted this, tacitly or not, whilst at the same time he continued to insist that his lieutenants reside next to his own capital village. Thus gradually most (or even all) of the lieutenants came to be residen- tially separated from the segments of people which they headed. That is, substantial numbers of Mshope commoners came to live apart from their leaders; and this was tolerated so long as they continued to render tribute and to supply men for raiding parties. By the end of the century, the Mshope population had become fairly thinly spread (at something like 10 persons per square mile) over an area extending up to 40 miles from the chief’s capital. This development was paralleled by Chabruma’s policy of maintaining client populations at a distance from his capital. Thus there was a Bena group in the Mahenje area, some 40 miles north-north-west, which, after conquest, was allowed to remain on its lands whilst sending tribute and army recruits regularly to the chief. Similarly, Sakamaganga’s group 22 became a client population to the north in southern Mahenge after the Mpepo invasion. The reasons for this policy are not known. It is difficult to imagine such a development in the Njelu chiefdom, and it can only be suggested that Chabruma placed his principal strategy on keeping his lieutenants resident at the centre, under strict control, using them primarily as subordinate war-leaders and tribute collectors.
Some time during the early 1890’s Palangu sought to gain the position of something like sub-chief over those newly occupied areas to the east and north- east. Presumably he wished to create a new major segment in the novel circum- stances, with himself as new senior lieutenant or nduna . Chabruma rejected this idea, reportedly because Palangu was still claiming himself to be the rightful successor to Chipeta. No doubt Chabruma feared a possible secession by Palangu if the latter were to gain local autonomy. But also Chabruma seems to have been adamant in refusing to allocate any considerable degree of authority and responsibility to any lieutenant; and at least for the time being the out- ward drift of the commoner population did not raise too serious problems in recruiting adequate war parties for continued raiding. Like great chief Mhalule, Chabruma followed a policy of frequent feasting, with much slaughter of cattle gained in raiding, attended by his subordinates, by which he acquired a reputa- tion for hospitality and generosity. The chief’s younger brothers and most other lieutenants did not support Palangu, nor did they claim autonomy for themselves.
It may be pertinent to Chabruma’s autocratic and centralized regime to note that, in some contrast with Njelu, he failed to appreciate the significance of new forces impinging on his chiefdom towards the end of the century. He remained isolationist, rejecting approaches by Coastal slave-traders, European mission- aries, and, eventually, German colonial officers. Ultimately, whilst treating with the Germans at the end of the century, he sent (or led ?) a major raiding party into the Kilwa hinterland (south-central Coastal region); and as a result a German party occupied his chiefdom by force, exacting reparations in cattle and food (Ebner, 1959, 158).
When the Germans established colonial hegemony in the region at the turn of the century they did not recognize Chabruma’s authority over either the eastern or the northern areas. He was recognized as ‘ sultani ‘ over the central part of his chiefdom only, and an akida (appointed official from the Coast) was placed in those other two parts. Whatever the reason for this German policy, it is clear that in both eastern and northern areas there were considerable populations among whom no Ngoni authority was resident. Chabruma’s objections to the Germans were ignored, and this may have been a major reason why he enthusiastically embraced the mystical power and the opportunity for rebellion offered by Maji Maji in 1905.
In defeat Chabruma fled to Portuguese territory where he later died. In 1907 his eldest son was apointed as ‘sultani’ over the central area, under the direct authority of the German colonial government. Only much later under British indirect rule policy was Palangu recognized as sub-chief (nduna) of the Mbunga (north-eastern) area; and Ngoni sub-chiefs were appointed to the Likuyu (eastern) and Mahenje (northern) areas in 1930 and 1939 respectively, although still no Ngoni (i.e. Swazi or ‘old Ngoni’) resided there.
The two Ngoni chiefdoms were subject to colonial over-rule for more than half a century after the close of the ‘ traditional era’ in 1905. As a result of the ideology and practical exigencies of colonial administration within Tanganyika Territory, the structure of each chiefdom was given a semi-bureaucratic formalism which, deliberately or not, significantly modified and rigidified the earlier systems. Mid-twentieth-century Ngoni perceptions of the past must have been affected by this experience, as well as by the passage of time which encouraged some idealization of earlier conditions. Nevertheless, retrospective Ngoni accounts strongly suggest that the ideological model of the segmentary state persisted in both chiefdoms during the second half of the nineteenth century.23 In this model, the great chief ‘ owned’ the whole chiefdom and its people, and was the ultimate authority by virtue of descent from the founding leader. The chiefdom was divided into major segments of the population (not of territory), each under a senior lieutenant of the great chief. Each major segment was subdivided into lesser segments, and these again subdivided, with each segment under a lieutenant of the head of the superior, encapsulating segment. A superficial view might thus summarily describe the politico-military structure, but this would largely ignore the evolving operational system in each chiefdom.
The contrasting political evolution in the two chiefdoms has been implicit in the foregoing accounts in this paper, brief though they are and unavoidably lacking reliable data on some crucial points. Clearly the two did not in fact begin at the same point: decentralization and centralization were already present in early Njelu and Mshope respectively. That such a character should persist and develop further in each case was not necessarily inevitable, particu- larly in view of the prevailing ideology which fitted neither case at all well. Yet it did persist as a result of a variety of factors–political, organizational, successional, economic, demographic, and military. By the end of the century the Njelu chiefdom was in effect a confederation of the 10 major segments, each under its autonomous chief. The great chief, reduced almost to a symbol of ideal unity, was virtually but one such chief and not the most powerful in practice. In the Mshope chiefdom there were in effect neither major segments nor autonomous chiefs. There the great chief had autocratic, centralized authority over lesser lieutenants who had quite limited power over small segments.
In summary, the more significant historical factors were these. The Njelu chiefdom began as a larger, well-established group already internally differen- tiated, with major segments under experienced royal and non-royal lieutenants. As a result of death and defection of royal leaders, three non-royal lieutenants were left in power after the death of the group’s founder. They were able to choose and impose their power over the successor who was (and inevitably) a rather inexperienced son of the founder; and they could avoid subordination to the two remaining royal houses of the founder headed by junior sons. The chiefdom enjoyed more or less uninterrupted success in predatory warfare and expansion of population. With the prevalent poor soils and shifting cultivation it became necessary for the chiefdom to expand geographically and it was most practicable for each major segment to arrange its own periodic moves to fresh woodland within its own separate area. This avoided competition for land and, of course, it well suited the desired autonomy of major segment heads (chiefs). There was marked absence of concern for civil administration which was largely relegated to heads of minimal segments: thus no administrative hierarchy developed. Prestige, status, and power depended on military achievement, and here the chiefs were able effectively to control both fighting units and the distribution of captives and booty. A policy aimed at centralization by the great chief around 1880 was scarcely successful even though it was reinforced by his competent leadership against the Hehe incursion, and it was nullified by new royal lieutenants who gave him little support but rather sought an auto- nomy comparable to that of the older non-royal chiefs. In the 1890’s an elderly, chronically sick great chief was unable to exert much influence, and his position was partly undermined by the growing rivalry of his elder brother’s son. Thelatter eventually succeeded as great chief, but he was little more than primus inter pares.
In contrast, the Mshope group began as a smaller unit, only weakly dif- ferentiated internally with a single senior lieutenant (the founder’s brother) who never sought autonomy. The founder’s successor was obvious, with no real rivals. His effective policy was to maintain his chiefdom as a residentially intact unit, and so to distribute the spoils of war as to create a large number of small dependent segments whose heads competed among themselves rather than challenging his authority. The sudden devastating invasion by the Hehe, the killing of the chief, and the secession of the one semi-autonomous segment (under Mpepo) left the chiefdom in disarray and smaller. The new chief re- established autocratic authority in the achievement of recovery and in successful defence against renewed Hehe incursion and Mpepo’s invasion. Successful predatory warfare continued under his active leadership. The fear of secession prevented the chief’s principal rival and half-brother from achieving autonomy as a segment head. The policy of compulsory residence at or near the chief’s capital was strictly maintained, although at the cost of permitting commoner populations to move away (in shifting cultivation) from direct residential control by their segment heads. Until the end of the century this centralization policy worked well enough, such that sufficient fighting men and tribute were supplied by those commoner segments, and the chief’s role and policy were uncontested.24
2 Barnes, 1954, is a good source for references.
3 For convenience throughout this paper the names of modern African countries and places are used for reference.
4 The chiefdoms persisted until the abolition of all the chiefships in independent Tanganyika.
5 Presumably from the Nguni word isibongo ‘ praise-name ‘.
6 This was the Maseko Ngoni group which later settled in southern Malawi. It was not part of Zwangendaba’s group and had reached the Songea area separately. Cf. Read, 1936 and 1956.
7 This analysis is based on data which I obtained in field research in 1952-4, together with materials gathered by earlier inquirers. The more useful sources on the Songea Ngoni are: Prince, 1894; Fullerborn, 1906; Hatchell, 1935; Gulliver, 1954 and 1955; Ebner, 1959. A number of missionaries, travellers, and early colonial officers visited or approached the Songea area during the second half of the nineteenth century and, although leaving rather little in the way of hard data, they have been useful in the establishment of a fairly dependable chronology.
8 He is referred to in the literature on central Africa Ngoni: e.g. Lancaster, 1937, 70; Barnes, 1954, p. 123, n. VOL. XXXVII. PART 1.
9 The term ‘royal’ is used to denote members of Zulu’s patrilineage, i.e. the Gama kibongo.
10 See p. 84, n. 6.
11 Their remnants became parts of house II, but were later to be revived as separate segments. See p. 90.
12 Hawayi and his successors held the honorific title of Nkosi Zulu. For convenience the term nkosi will be glossed as’ great chief’ in this paper
14 The rising Hehe state, some 200 miles to the north of Songea, had the only military force within hundreds of miles capable of offering any real threat to the Ngoni chiefdoms before the arrival of the Germans. No other external attack was made on either chiefdom during the period under review.
15 The rumps of houses III and IV had been taken into house II after the death of Zulu and the departure of his sons to Mbelwa in about 1860.
16 i.e. the segments based on Zulu’s four houses as against the segments headed by other chiefs (principally Chikuse, Mpambolioto, Putire, and
17 Fullerborn wrote: ‘When I saw Songea in 1897, he was a sickly old man, but nevertheless he knew with unscrupulous energy how to get his orders obeyed promptly. At the meeting of chiefs which we had called, he was the speaker on behalf of the other chiefs. At times whilst he was speaking his bent body rose and his eyes sparkled so that his opponents trembled. He was a born ruler’ (quoted in Ebner, 1959, 159).
18 Mbonani is nowhere mentioned in the plentiful literature on central African Ngoni. One story current among some of his descendants is that he led a separate migrant band northwards from the Swazi homeland, and only linked up with Zwangendaba’s group shortly after the latter’s death (Ebner, 1959, 66). There is no supporting evidence for this.
19 He was reported, by several of his descendants, to have been born a year or two before the Ngoni crossing of the Zambesi river in 1835.
20 This was on his own admission in a written autobiography taken from his dictation many years later when he was an old man, of which I have a copy in my files. This submission to Chabruma did not prevent him making renewed claims later on, although he never actively sought to contest his brother’s power.
21 It is possible that none had the clear title of ndana (comparable to Njelu) and that all were referred to as lidoda (lesser lieutenant). The data are not clear.
22 see above
23 This model derived from earlier Nguni tradition, and seems to have been largely applied in practice among the Zambian Ngoni (of. Barnes,
1954, ch. ii).
24 As this article was about to go to press, I was informed that a Ph.D thesis by P. M. Redmond, A political history of the Songea Ngoni, from the mid nineteenth century to the rise of the Tanganyicka National Union, was accepted by the University of London in 1972. I was unable to consult this.
Barnes, J. A. 1954. Politics in a changing society : a political history of the Fort Jameson Ngoni. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Ebner, F. E. 1959. History of the Wangoni. Peramiho, Tanganyika: Peramiho Mission Press.
Fullerborn, F. 1906. Das Deutsche Njasa- und Ruwuma-Gebiet, Land und Leute, nebst Bemerk- ungen iber die Schire-Lander. Berlin: Reimer.
Gulliver, P. H. 1954. Administrative survey of the Ngoni and Ndendeuli of Songea District. Tanganyika : Provincial Administration.
Gulliver, P. H. 1955. ‘ A history of the Songea Ngoni ‘, Tanganyika Notes and Records, 41, 16-30.
Gulliver, P. H. 1971. Neighbours and networks. Berkeley and London: University of California Press.
Hatchell G. W. 1935. ‘ The Angoni of Tanganyika Territory ‘, Man, xxxv, 73, pp. 69-71.
Lancaster, D. G. 1937. ‘ Tentative chronology of the Ngoni, genealogy of their chiefs, and notes ‘, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, LXVII, 1, 77-90.
Prince, D. 1894. ‘ Geschichte der Magwangara nach Erzahlung des Arabers Raschid bin Masaud und des Fussi, Bruders des vor drei Jahren verstorbenen sultans des Magwangara Mharuli ‘, Mitteilungen von Forsch ungsreisenden und Gelehrten aus den Deutschen Schutzgebieten, vII, 4, 213-24.
Read, M. H. 1936. ‘ Tradition and prestige among the Ngoni ‘, Africa, Ix, 4, 453-84. Read, M. H. 1956. The Ngoni of Nyasaland. London: Oxford University Press.
By G. W. Hatchell, (May 1935)
There exist in Tanganyika Territory two groups of people known as Angoni. They reside the one in the Kahama District of the Tabora Province, and the other in the South. western area of the Territory, at and around Songea. Since the Angoni are popularly supposed to be of Zulu origin, it is of interest to consider how these people have come to be settled in places so far distant from Zululand.
The writer first became interested in this question in 1920, and during the succeeding ten years had opportunity to make enquiries in various parts of the Territory, with the object of discoveringsomething about the wanderings of the Angoi. The following account has been compiled from information obtained from native sources. Of necessity, much of the true story has been lost in the passage of years, but it is thought that the information now placed on record is, in the main, correct.
The Angoni were known to Livingstone and his contemporaries as the Mazitu and Wa-tuta, and they have frequently been described as Zulus. This description, however, appears to be incorrect since they were not, it is thought, Zulu, but Abe-nguni who had been resident in Natal as far back as 1620. They continued there until towards the end of the reign of the Zulu King, Chaka, with whom they became embroiled, with the result that they migrated northward under the leadership of Zwangandaba and crossed the Zambesi in November 1835. Continuing their journey northward and to the east of Lake Nyasa, they finally reached what is now known as Tanganyika Territory, somewhere between Lakes Nyasa and Tanganyika.
They were exceedingly able warriors and had, it is believed, adopted the Zulu methods of attack. Throughout their joumey north they raided and subdued the people along their route: amongst these were the Swazi. Tonga and Kalanga. On reaching the country to the west of Domira Bay on Lake Nyasa they rested, and Zwangandaba establshed a headquarters or base from which he made an expedition to the southern end of Lake Tanganyika with the object, it is stated, of advancig along its western shores. In this he was frustrated by the poor nature of the country and by tsetse fly. Nevertheless, the expedition produced repercussions farther north, to which reference will be made later.
Zwangandaba retumed to his base, and having rested and reorganzed, agai set out northward, but this time his object was the country on the eastern side of Lake Tanganyika: through Ufipa and beyond. The chief of Ufipa, Nsokolo, hearing of the threatened invasion, succeeded in coming to terms with the enemy, thus saving his people from the terrors of an Angoni raid.
Zwangandaba was accompanied on the expedition by his brother Ntabeni, and by his two wives, the senior of whom had borne him a son, named Mpenzi, while the junior, whose name was Qutu, had borne him a son named Mombera. Both these lads were with the expedition.
Shortly after reaching Ufipa, Zwangandaba died and was buried at Chapota, where his grave, marked by a grove of trees, can still be seen. On his death, Ntabeni, who had quarrelled with the successor. Considerable friction and internal strife resulted in a general break-up of the force. Mom- bera and Mpezeni returned south into Nyasaland, but two sections of Zwangandaba’s following remained in Tanganyika Territory, and it is with the subsequent wanderings of these that we are now concerned.
No further information regarding Ntabeni seems to be obtainable and his fate is obscure, but much is heard of the activities of his sons Mtambalika and Mtambarara, and Mbonambi, the wife of the former, who were the leaders of one of the two sections. They are first heard of at Mpimbue, at the north end of the Rukwa valley; only some fifty miles north of Chapota. They raided and subdued the Wa-pimbue and appear to have settled in that country for some time, for it is known that from there they raided into Ukonongo and as far as Ukabende, near Cape Kungwe on Lake Tanganyika. The inhabitants of Ukabende were the Baholoholo, who had but recently crossed the Lake, having been driven to do so by pressure from the south, which had its origin in Zwangandaba’s abortive expedition to the western shores of Lake Tanganyika.
The Baholoholo were brave and capable warriors, and under their chief, Swima, actually took the war into the enemy’s country and attacked the Angoni at Mpimbue. They were beaten off and Swima lost his life, but they seem to have put up a sufficiently stout resistance to persuade the Angoni that there was nothing to be gained by attacking them again, for, when Mtamballka resumed his journey, he avoided Ukabende and, passing to the east of it, struck the Malagarasi valley somewhere about Uvinza. He then launched a series of raids westward towards Kigoma and attacked the Arab town of Ujiji. Here he suffered a reverse and so turned north-east through Uhaa and reached the Runzewe country, north-west of Tabora, where he settled down and established a base from which he raided as far north as the southern end of Smith Sound on Lake Victoria.
At this time, about 1870, the notorious Mirambo was busily occupied with raids into Unanyembe (Tabora) and against the Arabs of that place. He and Mtambalika joined forces and the Arabs, who had organized an expedition against them, were defeated at Issasa Magazi. It was in this expedition that Stanley took part. Mirambo and his ally were defeated eventually and Mtambalika retired to Runzewe.
He had two wives: Mbonambi and Nwasi. The former bore him one son, who died in childhood, but Nwasi bore four sons: Mpangarara, Mvumba, Mini and Muvi. The first of these succeeded his father and was in tum succeeded by his son Mtambalika, the present chief.
Mtambalika died at Mgomba and was buried there, while Mbonambi died at Kungene, where her grave is still treated with respect and reverence. In spite of her ill-success in the production of children, she seems to have been as famous as her husband, and her name is remembered to this day from the Rukwa to Runzewe.
The descendants of Mtambalika’s followers are now considerably inter-bred with the people of Runzewe, and it is stated that they are beginning to lose their Angoni identity.
The wanderings of the second section of Zwangandaba’s following which remained in Tanganyika Territory are of no less interest. The leaders were Mboanani and Zuru of the Gamma clan. It is pos- sible, however, that the latter was of the Njere clan, for some informants have stated that his ‘ grand- father’ was Njere or Njeru.
On the break up of Zwangandaba’s force consequent on the election of Mombera, Zuru and Mboanani led their followers south-eastward through Usafwa and into Ukinga and Upangwa in the Livingstone Mountains, raiding as they went. They finally reached the plains, in the neighbourhood of the place where the town of Songea now stands, and proceeded to establish themselves. They were not, however, the first Angoni to reach the Songea area, for they found there another party of Angoni under the leadership of Mputa, sometimes called the Smiter. Mputa was a Swazi of the Mseko clan who had been a member of Zwangandaba’s original force and who had apparently broken away from it, after it had crossed the Zambesi. He came north up the east side of Lake Nyasa, and crossing the Ruvuma River, settled at the hill of Mbunga, about forty miles north-east of Songea, where he settled down and absorbed the unwarlike Wa-ndendahaulh, whom he found there. From Mbunga he carried out many successful raids northward and into the Kilwa hinterland. It is stated that he even raided as far north as the Digo country, a few miles south of Mombasa.
Zuru and Mboanani seem to have entered into some kind of agreement with Mputa and to have lived at peace with him until he treacherously murdered Mboanani and attacked and defeated Zuru and his followers. Shortly afterwards he proceeded on an expedition against the Yao, south of the Ruvuma, and suffered a reverse. In the subsequent rout he was captured by a party of Mboanani’s followers who hanged him out of hand on the roadside. It is related that his body was taken to his ‘great place’ at Mbunga and there burnt, but another account states that his followers dammed the Ruhuhu River, wrapped the body in an ox-skin, burnt it in the bed of the river and allowed the waters to flow over the remains. There seems to be little doubt that Mputa’s body was cremated, but whether at Mbunga or in the bed of the Ruhuhu needs further confirmation. At this late stage it seems doubtful if reliable information on the point can be obtained.
On the death of Mputa the Zuru party reorganized, and delivered a successful attack against Mbunga. Mputa’s followers were heavily defeated and fled in all directions. The pure-blooded Swazi fled south across the Ruvuma, while the half-bred Swazi-Wa-ndendahauli fled north into Mahenge, where they founded the tribe now known as Wa-mbunga. The Wa-ndendahauli serfs fled east into Tunduru, where they still cherish their acquired Angoni status.
Mboanani was succeeded by his son Chipeta, and he and Zuru established a dual control over the country lying between the Pitu and Ruvuma rivers. They raided in Ukinga and Upangwa and on the shores of Lake Nyasa, where Zuru’s third son, Muharule, is well remembered. At Kipingo, a few miles north of Manda on the lake shore, may be seen the remains of a pile village, which the Wakissi of those parts state was built by their fathers as a refuge from the Angoni, who were reputed to be averse from entering or crossing water if they could avoid doing so. Muharule also raided into Uwungu on the eastern shores of Lake Rukwa. He succeeded Zuru on his death, and was himself succeeded by his nephew, Chabruma, who was later deposed and replaced by Usangila, the son of Muharule.
On the death of Chipeta, a dispute regarding the inheritance arose between his sons Mpepo and Chabrunia. In this Mpepo was defeated and retired with his followers to Mkasu, near Mahenge, where he founded an independent stub-division of the Angotni. Chabruma was an energetic and successfuil warrior and brigand, and with his brother Palango raided into the Kilwa area, whence he retuined with many Wa-ngindo slaves and much loot. He has sometimes been referred to as the ‘killer by night.’
In 1890, with the advent of the German administration, the Angoni of Songea were under the leadership of Chabruma and MuLharule. The next event of importance in the history of these Songea Angoni seems to have been the Maji-maji rebellion of 1905-6. They’ drank the water with disastrous results, for, although they were successful against a small expedition sent out against them from Songea, they were eventually scattered with heavy loss by a force sent down from Iringa. The severest punitive measures were then adopted by the Governnment, and it is affirmed that many more Angoni lost their lives as a result of these than in the rebellion itself. Tlleir fighting spirit, however, was not extin- guished, for they fought bravely both for the British aiid for the Germans in the Great War. An Angoni company raised by the Germans and known as the ‘W’ Company was regarded as being in the category of ‘ storm troops.’
After the rebellion a number of minor chiefs came into being in Songea. They were for the most part sons of the Zuru and Mboanani families, and although in the course of time they became semi- independent, the administration of the tribe remained largely in the hands of the alien native Akidas, appointed by the Government as its agents in the outlving districts. Among these minor chiefs or sultans, as they came to be called, was one who was not a member of the old ruling families. He was Songea, an Mkaranga Nduna of Muharule, and it was from hini that the town of Songea took its name.
Since the war a policy of indirect rule has been inaugurated and the internal struicture of the tribe has been, to some extent, reorganized, giving the direct descendants of Zuru and Mboanani that recog- nition to which they are entitled, while the exact status of the minor chiefs has been defined.
The Angoni continue to be wanderers, and large numbers of them leave the Songea and Kahama districts every year, making their way to the Tanga district, where they obtain employment on the sisal estates and where they are regarded as first-class labour. Many of them settle down and never return home, or only do so after a lapse of years. They retain, however, a marked pride of race and have no doubts whatever regarding the inferiority of other tribes in the Territory.
By J. M. Winterbottom, B.Sc., Ph.D., Department of Native Education, Northern Rhodesia Aug, 1937.
The rival claims of Mpezeni and Umbelwa to the paramountcy of the Angoni have never been decided to the satisfaction of those who are most deeply interested in the matter- the Angoni themselves. Thanks to the work of Dr. Elmslie,l Dr Fraser2 and the Rev. T. Cullen Young,3 the history of Umbelwa’s section of this tribe, and, with it, his claims to the chieftainship, are pretty well known and even Mr. Lane Poole4 has been content to follow them in his account of the tribe. The credit for unravelling Mpezeni’s claim belongs to Mr. D. G. Lancaster, whose paper (in the press) on chronology and genealogy I have been privileged to see in manuscript. The story is told, from Umbelwa’s point of view, simply and sufficiently in Midauko, a vernacular book published by the Livingstcnia Mission (1933, pp. 135-136); and from Mpezeni’s view- point in Maikol Jere’s unpublished account, for which I am indebted to Mr. L. B. van der Walt, of the Dutch Reformed Church Mission, Tamanda, at which station Maikol Jere is an evangelist.
The chief wife (gogo) of Zwangendaba was Loziwawa Nqumayo, who was a sister of Zwide. She was barren and the chief, following a well- known custom, took her sister Sosera to raise children for the house. Such a wife is known as an nhlanzi. Mpezeni Ntutu was the son of Sosera.
Zwangendaba’s second wife (Lusungulu) was Lomagazi Jere, in whose house there was also an nhlanzi. The latter bore Mtwalu. Later, Lomagazi herself bore a son, Umbelwa. These are the three men concerned in the paramountcy dispute.
Before the birth of Mpezeni, the people of loziwawa’s village, Emvuviyeni, brewed somebeer and sent a pot of it to the chief. Zwangen- daba, however, found extraneous matter in the beer-a hair in the Livingstonia account,5 ‘ some- ‘ thing unmentionable’ according to Maikol Jere. Highly incensed, Zwangendaba sent people to wipe out the village. The ndunas, however, finding Sosera pregnant, hid her and, later, her son, the future Mpezeni. On the presentation of this child to the chief, he was appeased.
The crux of the matter, however, lies in Zwangendaba’s actions after the slaying. According to the Umbelwa version, the chief was not sufficiently softened to restore the child to his rightful position as heir apparent. In the Mpezeni version, Ntutu was not presented to his father for some years and did not lose his rights. Naturally, during the interim, the heir-apparentcy would pass to the house of the lusungulu, that of the gogo being supposed extinct. The hair, according to ‘Midauko,’ was taken by Zwangen- daba to be an attempt to bewitch him; but ‘something unmentionable,’ while it might be supposed to rouse the chief to a fit of fury at the disrespect and carelessness it presupposed, would not cause the deep and lasting resentment that an attempt at witchcraft would bring about. It is probably impossible now to get the truth, but it might be worth while showing how subsequent events are to be reconciled with the two accounts.
If we assume the truth of Umbelwa’s contentions, we can readily believe that Mpezeni would not be willing to resign his claims after his father’s death and the quarrel between Zwangendaba’s brother, Ntabene, and Lomagazi (a quarrel also due to a charge, made by the latter against the former, of trying to bewitch the chief), would give him a powerful supporter amongst the ndunas.
If, on the other hand, we take Mpezeni’account to be true, the claims of Umbelwa remain understandable. Those who, during the interval when Ntutu’s existence was hidden, had paid court to the house of the lusungulu, would naturally be reluctant to change over to support a newcomer. Many of those implicated in the destruction of Emvuviyeni, too, would be apprehensive that, if Mpezeni assumed the paramountcy, he would take his revenge upon them; and according to Maikol Jere’s account, he was himself indiscreet enough to hint as much to Mgayi6 before he was fairly in the saddle.
There remains only to weigh the probabilities. There are two or three rather suspicious points in the Umbelwa version, notably the account of how, in a time of hunger after the departure of Ntabene and the death of Mgayi, Mpezeni was asked to lead the whole tribe to a new country. The right of Zwangendaba to nominate his heir, and to pass over the gogo’s house on an unproved charge of witchcraft, may also be queried.
The weakness of Mpezeni’s story is the extraordinary fury aroused in Zwangendaba by an apparently trivial event. I confess, however, that it seems to me that the balance of probability is in his favour.
As between Mtwalu and Umbelwa, Cullen- Young states that the former’s onset of puberty was delayed, whereas Umbelwa came of age at a lucky time. The most usual version current among the Natives is that Mtwalu, as son of the nhlanzi, voluntarily gave way to the son of the lusungulu herself.
There can be no doubt that Mpezeni lacked his father’s genius for leadership; his failure to seize the opportunity to rally the whole tribe behind him, a failure to which reference has already been made, is one example, and the defection of his nduna Chiwele, who first refused to accompany him to Mpinduka and then to rejoin him when he moved to Chiposa, is another.7 But Mpezeni’s defects as a leader are far less marked than those of Umbelwa. The latter started his career with a severe defeat at the hands of his father’s nduna Zulu Gama, allied with Mgabi; then followed the revolt of the Atonga, who defeated the punitive expedition sent against them and made good their inde- pendence. The revolts of the Ahenga and Batumbuka, though avenged, still further re-duced the number of Umbelwa’s subjects a,nd there was also an humiliating defeat at the hands of Mwase Kasungu. A long series of bickerings between Umbelwa and one of his war leaders, Pikamalaza, resulted in the latter and his superior, Magodi Ndhlovu, crossing the watershed into what is now Northern Rhodesia in order to put themselves beyond Umbelwa’s jurisdiction. Mphamba, a minor Tumbuka chief, took himself off and settled in the country of the Chewa Zumwanda, himself a chief of no great importance, without, apparently, Umbelwa being able to do anything about it.8 The ‘ drift from ‘ Umbelwa’ is still going on to-day and it may be doubted if this chief would still be a figure of great importance, had he not been supported by the European Administration on account of his historical position.
1.W W. A. Elmslie, Among the Wild Angoni, 1899.
2 D. Fraser, Winning a Primitive People, 1922.
3 T. Cullen-Young, Notes of the History of the Tumbuka- Kamanga People, 1933.
4 E. H. Lane Poole, Notes on the History of the Tribes of the East Luangwa Province of Northern Rhodesia, 1934.
5 This implied an attempt to bewitch him.
6 My own informants say Ntabene, but Mgayi would account more plausibly for the effects
7 Mpezeni did send a punitive expedition, but it lost its way, and was annihilated by Gomane.
8 I am indebted to Mr. F. B. Macrae, District Com- missioner, Lundazi, for this piece of information, which he obtained from the District Note-book and subse- quently checked