Monday, February 14, 2011


BY: Peter Qeko Jere

One of the key features that appear on the map of Malawi is the most famous Nguniland in the northern part of the country called Mzimba. The word Mzimba is a Zulu – Xhosa one and it means the body of a human being. The word is famous in Malawi not because of its meaning but because this is the largest district in the entire country. It’s the only district which is ruled by children of one man, Zwangendaba (Ka Jele, Ka Qeko, Ka Lonyanda, ka nyandeni, Ka Khali , Ka lovuno, ka nguwoyempisi) who in the 1800s fled the wars of Shaka. Zwangendabah was born in Zululand but died in Mapupo while his children settled in the northern region of Malawi in a district called Mzimba. These children of Zwangendaba are present JERE ruling class of the Mzimba kingdom who during colonialism, formed the JERE COUNCIL which was the highest decision making body of the kingdom.

Mzimba with its capital at Mzimba Boma has of today more than 610944 people and covers 10430 square kilometers. This territory is basically occupied by the JERE Nguni’s. Northern region of Malawi where this district is located has other four smaller districts where we find the Tongas, Nkhondes, Tumbukas and Lyambias.

History says that as the Zwangendaba Ngunis were on their way from the south Africa, they in 1835 crossed the Zambezi river and briefly stayed in the present day Zimbabwe where they fought some fearless wars before going further north-east into Malawi. In Malawi they briefly settled at Mabiri from where Mmbelwa was born. Zwangendaba moved northward and crossed into Mapupo-Tanzania where he later died. However his children moved backward into the south and crossed into Malawi while one called Mpezeni moved and settled in the eastern side of Zambia from where he rules as INKOSI YA MAKOSI MPEZENI IV.

In Malawi, there are seven Zwangendaba sons who are ruling the ruling class in Mzimba Ngoni kingdom and these are the Jeres under INKOSI YAMAKOSI M’MBELWA. Now Inkosi Yamakosi Mmbelwa IV (who was given the name Zwangendaba at birth) is the overall King of the Zwangendabah Jere Ngunis of Malawi and he reigns from Edingeni and Engalaweni some few kilometers from Mzimba BOMA. His other brother is INKOSI MTWALO who reigns from Ezondweni which is an offshoot of Ekwendeni (ekhaya lagogo). In the southern Part of Mzimba district is INKOSI MABILABO who rules from Ekhahleni, Emfeni and Elangeni. In the north western part of the district is INKOSI PHEREMBE who rules from Emcihleni. In the central western part of district is INKOSI MZUKUZUKU who reigns from Ephangweni and Embangweni. In the eastern part of the district is INKOSI MZIKUBOLA who reigns from Emcigohleni or emchakachakeni and finally we have INKOSI CHINDI who reigns from euthini.

Some may wonder as to why we the custodian of Ngoni culture and tradition seem not to recognize Kampingo Sibande and Jalavikuba Munthali as part of the Amakhosis in the kingdom. To clarify this, those of you who do seem not to know Ngoni history and tradition, Kampingo Sibande and Jalavikuba Munthali has special cultural role to play and that is to lender their cultural obligation to Inkosi Mthwalo and other Amakhosis in the kingdom. They are under Inkosi Mthwalo and they can not just begin to rule at the same level as Inkosi Mthwalo. As far as the Ngoni Culture and tradition is concern, Kampingo Sibande and Jalavikuwa Munthali still remains Senior Ndunas of Inkosi Mthwalo.

The elevation of the two to the status of Amakhosi is and remain unwelcome by many in the kingdom because this whole exercise undermines and violated the Ngoni Cultural and tradition. I emphasise on this because those day when I was growing up at Ezondweni in Mthwalo, I used to seeing these two being part of the many meetings that the late Inkosi Mthwalo IV was hosting at Ezondweni. They fulfilled their duties as senior Indunas of Inkosi Mtwalo and elevating them to the same status of Inkosi goes against culture. I will undertake a project where a full research shall be done on this matter responding to the question as to why the Mzimba Ngoni Kingdom in Malawi lost its glory and its dignity.


Anonymous said...


it's intresting to find such valuable write up of the nguni people in Malawi. from this can you clarify how the surnames Phiri and Mahwayo came about and what was that clans role in the evolution of Malawi? i hope to hear from you as i am trying to trace family roots that lead me to Malawi.

Wandile Phiri

Crespo Ncube said...

wow, thus great man of God, I always enjoy your sermons @ City of Light Christian Ministries,God bless you! so whc language do the people of Mzimba speak?

Anonymous said...

I just opened your blog and have captivated my interest. However I fail to understand on the following:

1.Are chiefs such as Jalavukuva and Kampingo Sibande Ngonis or not. How was this relationship captivated or came into being. Was Mzimba kingdom the same with Mzimba district or was it restricted to Mawiri area before 1907.

2.How do Ngonis view other tribes or clans they claim to be of Ngoni origin such as Karanga (Chibambo, Hara, Mbizi etc), Senga (Lungu, Mithi, Mumba etc), Safwa (Mbenje, Hondya etc) and Tongas from the Zambezi valley (Baroyi, Nhlema etc)

3. Can you research of the impact other tribes Ngonis found in Malawi had on the living style of the invading Ngonis.

4. Is Nguni (Ngoni) a one tribe or clan name or is a composite of various mixed groups in an area stretching from southern coastalof the present day mozambique to around Transkei in South Africa?

Best wishes in your research.

Bennie Banda

lovemore Chilambo said...

I am please to come across this History how ever I would like to know under which Clan name do belong, since I am fro Mzimba, in a place called Ewothini. My surname is Chilambo. Hence I was born in Zimbabwe

Gushu said...

Jeko, I concur with you that the Jere council is diluting the essence of being Ngoni. Of late we are seeing a son not born in a true ngoni being given space to rule the Ngoni. This was inconceivable in those days when Ngoni culture and tradition were respected. Of course, we accept that both tradition and culture are dynamic but this should weep out our identity. We need to do someting to preserve our identity.

Lyson Goodwin Sibande said...

May you please tell us the history of the Sibandes?