The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal
Vol 16 No 4 - December 2014


By Maxwell Z Shamase
Department of History, University of Zululand

About the author

Maxwell Shamase PhD is a Lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Zululand, South Africa.

Born in about 1798 Mpande was the son of a Zulu inkosi (potentate), Senzangakhona, and Queen Songiya, daughter of Ngotsha of the Hlabisa Isizwe (clan). Senzangakhona had many sons from different wives and Mpande was third in succession in the dynasty of 'martial' Zulu emperors whose military valour transformed small clans into a single powerful nation. The Zulu lineage, largely begotten by Mpande, the first emperor to have children, became a royal group with high status. In spite of the above, however, Mpande began on a very precarious footing. In his youth he was plagued by umchoboka (skin dermatitis). His predecessors and contemporaries viewed him as indolent, inept, obese and even cowardly. A plethora of European historical accounts have referred to Mpande's inferior genealogical status, cowardice, physical and mental deficiencies. On the contrary, Mpande was already a recruited warrior when his half-brother Dingane became emperor in 1828. He had been incorporated into the army on the death of his father in 1816, but retained a submissive role during the next few years because he was an umsizi prince. Exploring and analysing the nature and extent of military engagements of the Zulu army under such an emperor are assumed to be the major contribution of this paper.


A question may be asked: What was an umsizi prince? At a certain point in the annual umkhosi ceremonies, the inkosi (potentate), daubed with powdered medicines (umsizi), was required to spend the night in a specially prepared indlu (hut) in the isigodlo (harem). There he would be attended by a selected wife or a girl from the harem, with whom he might have sexual intercourse (Shamase, p 44). A child born of the connection was an umsizi and held to be of inferior rank in the royal family and therefore not supposed to be heir.

An umsizi child was never made potentate, but always lived and was brought forward when the principal house had no heirs. Mpande was allowed to live because of his being an umsizi, and therefore one who would not contend for the rulership. It was for this reason that Mpande was sent as a youth to live amongst the Cele south of Thukela River. In Mpande's days the umsizi custom was retained to give the monarch an imposing aura, so that he should be regarded with awe (Webb & Wright, Vol II, Evidence of Magidigidi. 8 May 1905. p 88-9).

It could be argued that in spite of his being an umsizi prince, the source of his strength could be traced from his name, 'mpande'. It could also be that Senzangakhona had a premonition of his son's reign by naming him Mpande. His name comes from a Zulu word 'impande', meaning 'root'. A root could be of a plant or nation. The symbolic meaning of a root is that it is a source of life.

The growth of a plant or nation is entirely dependent on the root or roots. It could thus be argued and said that in Senzangakhona's calculations Mpande was to be source, strength and growth of the nation. This bore truth in that through his household there emerged emperors whose genius earned the Zulu monarchy dignity and respect. Besides being an umsizi, it was rumoured that Shaka, the first Zulu emperor, had given Mpande the responsibility of fathering a son. This could be noted as an underlying factor in his becoming a natural successor to the Zulu throne.

Sovereign power and army recruitments

Mpande ruled at a time when the development of new institutions of domination, notably the amabutho (army), facilitated the emergence of a form of centralised authority and gave to potentates a new coercive capacity. Unlike his progenitors, Mpande waged few wars abroad. The style of his military expeditions, however, resembled that of his predecessors. After his campaigns are-vitalization of the Shakan amabutho control system took place. New amakhanda (military camps) were built and occupied by the amabutho, including a harem around his isigodlo (palace) at Nodwengu (Wright and Edgecombe, 1979, pp 52-4 ).

Mpande's system of regiments was a key aspect of state formation in south-east Africa. The dominance of the Zulu ruling group was closely associated with its control over the amabutho. Military units of Shaka, Dingane and Mpande were initially based at Esiklebheni or at Nobamba military imizi (Killie Campbell Africana Library, Stuart Papers, File 9, Notebook 3, Evidence of Xubu; Essay Papers, 'Zulu Royal Regiments', 2 February 1912, p 128; Webb & Wright, Vol 2, p 253, Evidence of Mayinga, 9 July 1905; Bryant, 1929, p 642). Esiklebheni assumed the significance and ideological weight of an ancestral establishment, and became an evocative and sacred site. It was at Esiklebheni and Nobamba that the new recruits to the Zulu army spent the first period of their training (Killie Campbell Africana Library, Stuart Papers, File 61, Notebook 31, Evidence of Ndukwana, 1 May 1903, p3; Webb & Wright, Vol 3, Evidence of Mpatshana, 28 May 1912, p 316). These establishments re-orientated new recruits towards the idea of a Zulu monarchy united under a Zulu potentate.

The training period created the opportunity for non-Zulu recruits to come to identify with the Zulu monarch and ancestors (Webb & Wright, Vol 1, Evidence of Baleni, 10 May 1914, p 21; Killie Campbell Africana Library, Essay Competition, Thomas Dlamini, 'Some Places of Historical importance in Natal and Zululand', 1942). An important symbol of the unity of the amabutho and their intimate connection with the monarch, however, was inkatha (a coil of grass and medicine plastered with the vomit and body waste of the men of the amabutho). Inkatha was the legitimacy of the monarch's authority and the power to construct an inkatha was vested in him alone (Killie Campbell Africana Library, Stuart Papers, File 41 'Historical Notes', Evidence of Socwatsba, 16 March 1907, p 11).

The first experience of many of the recruits to the Zulu amabutho was gained between the ages of thirteen and sixteen as udibi (carriers) for the men of the amabutho. Others amongst the ranks of the udibi had been taken as captives in war, and entered the Zulu military establishment as udibi, later to become izinsizwa (Killie Campbell African Library, Stuart Papers, File 60, Notebook 28, Evidence of Tununu, p 19; Webb & Wright, Vol I, Evidence of Baleni, 17 May 1914, p 41). As udibi, the young boys became acquainted with amakhanda life and gained a taste for campaigning, although they were kept well in the rear of any battles. On campaign, they carried food, mats, karosses, wooden headrests, gourds of water, spoons, and chamber pots (Webb & Wright, Vol 3, Evidence of Mkando, 10 August 1902, p 163). At the amakhanda they collected firewood and cleaned the huts of the men for whom they carried. They also laboured in the gardens of the for the men of the ikhanda and participated in the ritual life of the establishment (Killie Campbell Africana Library, Stuart Papers, File 61, Notebook 31, Evidence of Ndukwana, 1 May 1903, pp 3-4). Young boys absorbed the military ethos of Zulu society from an early age, and many subscribed to the social values of heroism.

Military palaces and civil or military authority

Mpande thus built his main palace at Nodwengu although his children were born at Mphenqaneni palace (Dhlomo, 1960, p 47; Killie Campbell Africana Library, Stuart Papers, File 41, Notebook 51, Evidence of Socwatsba, 16 March 1907, P 96; Webb & Wright, Vol 2, Evidence of Mandhlakazi, 23 May 1916, pp. 181-182). With the assistance of Masiphula KaMamba Ntshangase of eMgazini as his undunankulu (prime minister), Mpande began restructuring the Zulu army by forming his own amabutho. He had 21 amabutho named after his palaces, namely isaNgqu, iNgulube, amaPhela, uThulwana, iNkonkoni, iNdlondlo, uDlokwe, uMbonambi, uNokhenke, uKhandampemvu, iNgobamakhosi, Mdumezulu, Nodwengu, Mlambongwenya, Zwangendaba, Dukuza, Ndabakawombe, isiKlebheni, uMbelebele, Nobamba and uDlambedlu (Dhlomo, 1960, pp 108-9).

Mpande's great izinceku (attendants at the emperor's household responsible for the performance of certain domestic duties, and for private services for the emperor) were Vumandaba kaNtethi Biyela, Mfinyeli kaNguzalele Xulu, Mzwakali kaCicazana Mthimkhulu, Phakathwayo kaSogodi Khanyile, Mvunyelwa Dladhla, Sijulana KaMcikwana Buthelezi, Mzilikazi kaNgqengelele Buthelezi, Magamudele kaKlwana Buthelezi, Nomnombela kaMfaba Mdunge, and Dazukile kaDlakadhla Sibiya (Webb & & Wright, Vol I, Evidence of Baleni, 12 May 1914, pp 24-6).

Mpande's izinduna (civil or military officials appointed to positions' of authority or command) were Baleni kaSilwana, Ndungundungu kaNonkokhela Zulu, Fokothi kaMaphitha and Fokothi kaMgulugulu Magwaza, Fokothi kaSiwangu Mthethwa, Tshemane kaNgwadhla, Hhoye kaMqundane, Mbonambi kaDidi Biyela, Bantubensumo kaKlwane Buthelezi, Magwala kaMqundane Zulu, Makhubalo kaNhliziyo Mbatha, Manqandela kaNkabana Zulu, Fokothi kaDlengebeni Sibiya, Madlodhlongwane kaJaja Dludla, Nhlanganiso kaNyokana Dludhla, Mbune kaSomaphunga Ndwandwe, Mswazi kaNtokontoko Zulu, Mahlaphahlapha kaNombobo Mncwabe, Tshovu kaMagula Xulu, Tshemane kaNyathi Ntshangase, Nhlokotshane kaNtshiba Qwabe, Sidubele kaMakedama Ntombela, Hhoye kaMadwala Mthembu, Balisa kaMqundane Zulu, Mlamba kaNtatha Zulu, Mahwanqa kaNkayishana Mtshali, Fada kaMaphitha and Zibhebhu kaMaphitha Zulu of the Mandhlakazi (Webb & Wright, Vol I, Evidence of amabutho. Baleni, 12 May 1914, pp 24-6). They were, however, accountable to Prime Minister Masiphula Ntshangase.

Mpande and his amabutho had izinyanga (diviners or traditional healers) who lapha'd (performed the act of healing on) them on the eve of war. They were Zibanto ka Makhubalo Mdhluli, Bhecwa kaMatshoni Sikhakhane, Ntutho kaVumbi Sikhakhane, Nondo kaMlotshane Sikhakhane, Jiyane kaMqalana Buthelezi, Ntuku kaNondumo Nzuza, Manyelindlela kaKhondhlo Mazibuko, Manembe kaDumisa, Mqedi Nkwanyana and Magonondo kaKhondlo Mazibuko (Webb & Wright, Vol I, Evidence of amabutho. Baleni, 12 May 1914, pp 24-6).

Reasserting Zulu authority

Having enlarged his amabutho, Mpande was also determined to reassert Zulu authority over the outlying chiefdoms. This, however, was preceded by the precaution of ridding himself of any possible claimants to the throne. Thus in 1843 Mpande murdered his only surviving half-brother, Gqugqu (Dhlomo, 1960, pp 50-5). Gqugqu had built his homestead beyond the Black Mfolozi River on the eSigubudu Hill. Gqugqu kaSenzangakhona had a stronger genealogical claim to the throne than Mpande (Dhlomo, 1960, p53). He had also amassed his own amabutho and isigodlo, in addition to support he received from important personalities such as the Nxumalo lineage head Sothondose, Mangena Mnyandu, Ncaphayi Ndlovu, the Ndwandwe inkosi then already under the control of Malanda Mkhwanazi of Mpukunyoni and Mawa kaSenzangakhona (Kennedy, 1981, P 32; Dhlomo, 1960, pp 53-5).

To Mpande's surprise, the murder of Gqugqu triggered an exodus of his subjects to Natal. In addition to the above adherents of and sympathisers with Gqugqu, Mpande's own Prime Minister, Nongalaza kaNondela Mnyandu, crossed the Thukela to pay homage to the colonial establishments in Natal (Dhlomo, 1960, p 54). It should be noted that the flight of these and other subjects of the kingdom became an issue in Mpande's relations with the colonial establishment at Port Natal.

When the British Commissioner Henry Cloete met Mpande in October 1843 an agreement was reached that the subjects of the kingdom who had become refugees in Natal would remain in that colony, and that all cattle they had taken should be returned to Mpande (Wright & Edgecombe, 1979, pp 51-2). By 1845 there were about 75 000 Zulu subjects between the Thukela and Mzimkhulu rivers. This figure had increased to 305 000 by 1872.

Military engagements

Mpande's first military expedition after securing his position at home was against the Swazi in July 1847. Mpande's campaign against the Swazi was motivated by his need for more cattle and military honour. He deployed isaNgqu, iNkonkoni, uDlokwe and uNokhenke amabutho to seize cattle from King Mswati of Swaziland (Killie Campbell Africana Library, Stuart Papers, File 68, Notebook 9, Evidence of Ngangaye, 14 May 1904, p 12; Wright & Edgecombe, 1979, p 66). The Swazis concealed their cattle and themselves in caves while soliciting the support of the Voortrekker forces stationed at Ohrigstad (Killie Campbell Africana Library, Stuart Papers, File 68, Notebook 9, Evidence of Ngangaye, 14 May 1904, P 12; Wright & Edgecombe, 1979, p 66).

Eventually the total annihilation of the Swazi people was only averted by Mswati's alliance with the Voortrekkers. These allies of Mswati were promised a huge tract of land in the eastern Transvaal (Mpumalanga), stretching from the Olifants River in the north to the Crocodile River in the south. This was secured by a treaty signed on 26 July 1846 between Mswati and the Ohrigstad Voortrekkers. Against this Mpande's amabutho could make little impression and had to return empty-handed shortly afterwards (Minutes of the Natal Volksraad, 15 October 1839 in Bird, 1888, pp 537-45).

Izibongo (a set of praises) that Mpande earned from the first Swazi expedition were of great historical significance (Nyembezi, 1983 p 74):

Inhlehlanyovane kaNdaba, [The backslider of Ndaba]
Ihlehlelefuthi ngoBulawayo, [Backsliding through Bulawayo]
Ihlehlele 'izinkomo zamaSwazi. [Retreating from Swazi cattle.]

In 1849 the continuous struggle for succession in Swaziland once again provided Mpande with an opportunity to reassert his authority over the Swazis. Malambule, a regent to the throne in the minority of Mswati, refused to surrender to Mswati cattle seized from Fokoti (his rival brother) (Wright & Edgecombe, 1979, p 65). Malambule was in control of a chiefdom near La Vumisa, south of Swaziland from which he could mount a rebellion. During the Zulu Civil War, Malambule and his adherents appealed to Mpande for assistance.

This event was well recorded in Mpande's praises (Nyembezi, 1983, p 75):

Isimemezane sikaNdaba, [The yeller of Ndaba]
Simenyezwe ngamaSwazi, [Yelled by the Swazi people]
Athi zaphel' izinkomo nguMswazi. [Saying Mswazi devours cattle]
Lalelani low' omemezayo, [Listen to the one yelling]
Umemeza sengath 'uyakhala, [Yelling as if he is crying]
Sengath' ukhal' isililo: [As if he is mourning]
Umalambule banoSidubelo, [Malambule and Sidubelo]
Banonina kaPhenduka, [with Phenduka's mother]
Bamemeze behlez' eMfihlweni, [They yelled seated at Mfihlweni]
Bathi godl' ekhwapheni. [Saying 'hide it under the elbow'.]

The Izinyathi (Buffalo) ibutho of Mswati was feared among the local clans, but proved unable to withstand the Zulu amabutho, invariably retreating into the cavernous precipices and mountain strongholds of its land. The Zulu onslaught forced the Izinyathi to flee to the caves and gorges (Cope, 1979, pp 2-5). The reason was that the Zulu discipline and tactics proved to be highly effective and could not be neutralised by traditional Mswati offensives.

IsaNgqu, the only Zulu ibutho of many in the force which remained unexhausted, proceeded to raid the cattle of Fabase, an inkosi of the Sotho clan. This was also recorded in Mpande's praises (Nyembezi, 1983, p 75):

Lukhozi lukaNdab' olumaphikw ' abanzi; [The eagle of Ndaba with large wings]
Lufulel' oSomhhashi noFabase, [Encompassing Somhhashi and Fabase] Lufulel' uNdengez' ezalwa uMayibuka. [Engulfing Ndengezi born of Mayibuka.]

In 1851 isaNgqu and iNgulube amabutho attacked Sikwata kaThulwana of the Bapedi clan (Cobbing, 1977, pp 2-8). The seizure of cattle was the main aim of this campaign. Although this campaign was a failure, Mpande was praised (Nyembezi, 1983, p 76):

Wamudl' uMtshikiia kubeSuthu bakwaPhahlaphahla. [You devoured Mtshikila among the Phahlaphahla Sotho.]
Othukuthele wawel' uBhalule ngemvula yezinyembezi. [In wrath you crossed Bhalule with rain of tears.]
Way' enqabeni kaSikwata kubeSuthu. [You went to Sikwata's seraglio among Sothos.]

These had justification in that praise-singers or court-poets were also required to recite the praises of the emperor (Mpande) on all occaslons to continually reaffirm the legitimacy of the ruling house.

Mpande's amabutho returned from Sikwata operations during the weeding season in 1854 and were immediately ordered again to attack the Swazis (Killie Campbell Africana Library, Stuart Papers, File 81, Notebook 42, Evidence of Ndukwana, 1 May 1903, p 11). Mpande had just enrolled the amaMboza ibutho of which Cetshwayo (his son) was a recruit. He deemed it necessary to allow amaMboza to accompany the most experienced amabutho like umKhulutshane, inDabakawombe, isaNgqu, umDlenevu, iHlaba and iziNgulube. Thus the campaign became known as the ukufunda kwamaMboza (the experience of the amaMboza) (Webb & Wright, Vol I, Evidence of Baleni, 12 May 1914, p 34).

Mswati took the precaution of immediately removing his cattle over the border into Ohrigstad territory and of withdrawing Izinyathi into the caves of the Mdimba Mountains. The amaMboza ibutho collected huge piles of wood and old hide shields to fill the mouth of the caves and set the whole on fire (Webb & Wright, Vol I, Evidence of Baleni, 12 May 1914, p 36). Few Swazi people were killed but a number of cattle were seized.

With this 1854 campaign Mpande's imbongi bellowed (Nyembezi, 1983, p 77):

Inzingelezi kaNdaba, [An encircler of Ndaba,]
Emabal' azizinge, [Who wears spotted colours,]
Sengath ' abekwe ngabomu; [As if deliberately done so;]
Inzingelezi kaNdaba, [An encircler of Ndaba,]
Ngokuzingelez' izinkomo zikaMswati kaSobhuza. [For Mswazi and Sobhuza's cattle.]

Mpande's Swazi expeditions were terminated due to pressure exerted by the colonial government in Natal. Zulu devastation in Swaziland instilled fear of a massive in-flow of refugees into Natal (Killie Campbell Africana Library, Stuart Papers, File 81, Notebook 42, Evidence of Ndukwana, 1 May 1903, p 36). The Natal government ordered Mpande's amabutho to refrain from any further depredations among the Swazi (Wright & Edgecombe, 1979, p 69).

Thus Mpande's thrust into Swazi territory ended in a fiasco. The north-western part of the kingdom, across the upper Phongolo, remained open for Zulu expansionism. That part was occupied by small chiefdoms like those of the Magonondo, amaNgwe, and Shabalala. In 1847 Mpande quarrelled with Phuthini, the amaNgwe inkosi, and when he failed to obtain the compensation he demanded, he sent his amabutho to seize the cattle (Wright & Edgecombe, 1979, p 33). This campaign failed because the amaNgwe managed to send their cattle away through the Hlubi country, across the Mzinyathi, into the Colony of Natal (Killie Campbell Africana Library, Stuart Papers, File 59, Notebook 30, Evidence of Ndukwana, 1 May 1903, p 33).

Conflict with the Hlubi

Given Mpande's nascent enthusiasm to expand his authority over the Mzinyathi-Phongolo marshes, it was only a matter of time before the Zulus and Hlubi came into conflict (Ladysmith Historical Society, nd, p 33). During the early 1830s the Hlubi were in a process of reformation within the Zulu empire, firstly under Dlomo, Mthimkhulu's heir, and then under Langalibalele. The Hlubi under Langalibalele re-established their homes at the confluence of the Mzinyathi and Ncome rivers (Killie Campbell Africana Library, Stuart Papers, File 59, Notebook 30, Evidence of Mabhonsa, 15 February 1903, p 8; JB Wright, 'Pre-Shakan age-group foundation among the Northern Nguni' in Natalia, No 8 (1978), P 11). At that time, Langalibalele had formed eleven amabutho in comparison to two known in Mthimkhulu's time and none in the period of Bhungane, Mthimkhulu's father (Wright, 1978, P 11; Manson, 197'9, pp 13-16).

Mpande launched an offensive against the Hlubi in March 1848 with the pretext that he was pursuing the amaNgwe cattle. The Hlubi, however, were forewarned of the attack and managed to hide their cattle in the caves and behind boulders. On their desperate retreat, Mpande's amabutho burnt many Hlubi homesteads and destroyed their ripening crops (Pietermaritzburg Archives Repository, CSO, 44 No 37, Statement of Hadebe to T Shepstone, 21 March 1848). Mabhonsa, an elder of the Hlubi interviewed by James Stuart in 1909, described Mpande's attack on the Hlubi as follows (Killie Campbell Africana Library, Stuart Papers, File 59, Notebook 30, Evidence of Mabhonsa, 15 February 1903, pp 8-10):

'The impi came and bivouacked on the south side of the Mzinyathi. A certain two men of our tribe, Mangobe and Mganuko, were driving goats, having come from Chief Jobe of the Sithole people at iLenge. They got to a precipice, and some way below, heard the Zulus calling to one another in the dark. They grasped the position at once, and made straight off to our kraals, giving the alarm everywhere. Fires were lit in every direction; the whole country was ablaze. I was ordered to drive the cattle, together with some old men. We got away before dawn, and rushed the cattle up northwards. The Zulus were too late. There was a certain amount of fighting. I remember this affair well, for I was a boy who had reached the age of puberty. The Zulus got quite tired out, and many of them were killed by our people. Only two of our people were wounded, and none killed. A few of our cattle were seized, including Langalibalele's oxen that had no horns (izithulu), 100 of them.'

In the wake of Zulu attack, Langalibalele sent an urgent message to the colonial establishment in Natal to plead for permission to move his people into the colony. The colonial authorities were alarmed and angered by the Zulu incursion over the Mzinyathi and promptly sent envoys to warn Mpande against making further attacks on the Hlubi and amaNgwe (Ladysmith Historical Society, nd, p 34).

Mpande assured the Natal authorities of his co-operation, but in May 1848 he sent emissaries to Langalibalele's residence with the following message (Pietermaritzburg Archives Repository: CSO, 44, No 37, Statement of Hadebe to T Shepstone, 21 March 1848): 'Plait yourself a rope that will raise you from the earth to avoid the king's vengeance, but so long as you remain on its surface you cannot avoid him. You may think of assistance from the frogs (meaning British) but this hope is also a vain one, as you will find to your cost. Your destruction is inevitable. Your rocks and caves will not save you. Your cattle which you have sent away for safety shall become the inheritance of those to whose care they are entrusted when you shall be no more.'

Thus, in August 1848, Langalibalele gathered his people and crossed the Mzinyathi into Natal. A few weeks later they were followed by the amaNgwe. The Hlubi and amaNgwe arrived in Natal at a time when the colonial establishnient was still fledgeling and no drastic measures were taken against either Mpande or Langalibalele (Ladysmith Historical Society, nd, p 37).

The Maputoland expeditions

Mpande intervened to settle the succession dispute in Maputoland to his advantage. This was viewed as an expression of Zulu determination to maintain its hegemony over an area of great strategic and economic importance. In 1854 Inkosi Makhasana died at the estimated age of 97 years (Bryant, 1929, p 293). He had named as heir his second eldest son, Noziyingili, after his first born, Hluma, had died. Makhasana's brother, Nonkatsha, had acquired a considerable amount of autonomy and a powerful following in Maputoland and usurped the throne. Noziyingili fled to KwaZulu and solicited Mpande's support in reclaiming his inheritance (Bryant, 1929, p 306).

Mpande dispatched seven amabutho to Maputoland. The Zulus were checked by Nonkatsha's forces in a clash at the Nondaka stream. Mpande rushed reinforcements to his mauled forces, and eventually Nonkatsha and many of his adherents were caught and slain. Noziyingili returned to Maputoland as undisputed king and ruled from 1854 until his death in 1886 (Ballard, 1981, p 105). By armed intervention, Mpande increased his tributary grip over the Tsonga, and Noziyingili paid homage to the Zulu monarchs (Ballard, 1981, P 105). His throne had been saved by Zulu intervention and as long as tribute was paid annually, his position was underpinned by, and his power enhanced through his links with the Zulu empire.

The conquest of iziMpondwana Hill

Of all Mpande's campaigns the most successful in its outcome was one against Mlotshwa KaSiwele, head of the abakwaNkosi junior branch of the senior Khumalo house (Bryant, 1929, p 602). Mlotshwa was much more famous as the crackbrain mentor of his clan, to whom black oxen were regularly sent as propitiatory sacrifices to the clan ancestors. His realm comprised the country round iziMpondwana Hill on the northern side of the upper Mkhuze. IziMpondwana Hill stood as a rugged and solitary mass amidst an extensive plain. Whenever invasion was feared, the mountain summit was, as a precautionary measure, provisioned and the cattle moved there for safety (Bryant, 1929, p 603).

In 1840 Mpande found Mlotshwa defiant as ever within his unassailable mountain fortress. Mpande's iziNyosi, uDlambedlu and uMkhulutshane amabutho succeeded in ferreting him out. They overtook and routed him beyond the Phongolo, seizing about 2 000 head of cattle (Bryant, 1929, p 604).

Settling old scores

In the late 1840s, Mpande was prevented by HT ('Frank') Fynn from attacking Faku in Pondoland. Fynn was placed as a British Resident with inkosi Faku for three years until he returned to Natal in 1852 (Pietermaritzburg Archives Repository: Fynn Papers, Vol VI, Smith to Mackinnon, 3 April 1848). He succeeded in convincing Mpande to abandon his planned military offensive against the amaMpondo. He argued that the land they occupied belonged to the British government in Cape Town, and that Faku had an alliance with both the Natal and Cape colonial forces (Pietermaritzburg Archives Repository: Fynn Papers, Vol VI, Smith to Mackinnon, 3 April 1848). The land was surrendered by Faku himself when he said (Pietermaritzburg Archives Repository: Fynn Papers, Vol IV, Fynn to Southey, 29 July 1848): 'I have no country, it belongs to the [Government], they are my refuge. I shall appeal to Smith and his mouth shall direct me .. .' It is claimed that Fynn's experience in Natal suited him for the task of improving relations between Mpande and the colonial establishment. Governor Sir HGW ('Harry') Smith wrote (Pietermaritzburg Archives Repository: Fynn Papers, Vol VI, Smith to Mackinnon, 3 April 1848): 'Mr Fynn is so well from previous experience acquainted with the duties imposed upon him, I send him no instructions, but rely with confidence on his discretion for he has previously, both with Faku and the Zulu king, ably done his duty.'

Mpande also attempted to destroy the position of Phakade KaMacingwane Ka Lubhoko Mchunu. Phakade was an inkosi (chief) of the Chunu in Natal from the late 1830s until his death in 1880 (Killie Campbell Africana Library, Stuart Papers, File 61, Notebook 36, Evidence of Mbovu Ka Mshumayeli, 7 February 1904). He lived for a time in KwaZulu after his father's (Macingwane's) chiefdom had been broken up by King Shaka. During the battle of Maqongqo in 1840 Phakade seized many of Dingane's cattle and crossed into the bush country of the Mpofana (Mooi) River. The Mpofana River rises in the foothills of the Drakensberg near Giant's Castle and flows into the Thukela east of the present-day Tugela Ferry (Bryant, 1929, pp 263,271-2; Webb & Wright, Vol 2, p 55.) Thus, in 1848, Mpande demanded the return of the cattle Phakade had seized from Dingane.

Phakade defied Mpande and the iziNyosi and the Dlambedlu amabutho were dispatched to rout him. The Chunu then settled in the country about the confluence of the Thukela and Mpofana (Mooi) rivers. In the 1850s Phakade, together with other Natal potentates, expressed willingness to provide levies against Mpande (Killie Campbell Africana Library, Stuart Papers, File 58, Notebook 18, Evidence of Mini Ka Ndlovu, 9 April 1910).


It could be argued that as the political and social revolution of Nguni society - carried out by Emperor Shaka in the 1820s and maintained by Mpande - was effectuated by force, the military system was one of the basic presuppositions for this process of development. Occupying a considerable part of a Zulu man's time and labour from puberty to the age of about 35, the military apparatus was probably the political institution within the new national system to have the greatest influence upon the concrete life of a Zulu individual (Pietermaritzburg Archives Repository: CO 879/2/5: Papers on Native Affairs, p121).

In Mpande's time military service was a common duty to all male members of the Zulu monarchy. To serve in Mpande's army became a matter of indirect as well as of direct force. It was a matter of honour to serve in the army. This fact argues for the supposition that the national system of military service by the time of Mpande had achieved a fairly firm and undisputed position (Pietermaritzburg Archives Repository: SNA 1/4/23 CR 19/1911: Mpande to Cloete, 23 and 29 October 1843). But the result was similar to Shaka's time, as during the period of Dingane every man in KwaZulu was drafted into some regimental service for some twenty years.

Mpande fitted well in the royal continuation of Shakan Zuluness and the day to day sovereign power of Mpande applied along the same lines as the administrative and military organisation. In fact, it was the very same administrative and military apparatus which also exercised the judicial and legislative functions of Mpande's people.


Ballard, C, 'Trade, Tribute and Migrant labour - Zulu and Colonial Exploitation of the Delagoa Bay Hinterland, 1818-1879' in J B Peires (ed), Before and After Shaka - Papers in Nguni History (Grahamstown, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Rhodes University, 1981), p 105.

Breytenbach, Cloete, The New South Africa: The Zulu Factor (Montagu, South Africa, Luga, 1991).

Cope, Nicholas, To Bind the Nation: Solomon Kadinuzulu and Zulu Nationalism, 1913-1933 (Pietermaritzburg, University of Natal Press, 1993).

Cope, R, 'The Zulu Kingdom, 1824-1879', paper given at a conference on the Anglo-Zulu War, University of the Witwatersrand, 1979.

Dhlomo, RRR, Umpande KaSenzagakhona, (Pietermaritzburg, Shuter & Shooter, 1960)

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Hallencreutz, Carl F, 'Thomas Mofolo and Nelson Mandela on King Shaka and Dingane' in Raoul Granqvist (ed), 'Culture in Africa: An Appeal for Pluralism' Seminar Proceedings, No 29, Uppsala, Sweden, Scandinavian Institute of African Studies, 1993, pp 185-93.

Killie Campbell Library: Essay Competition, Thomas Dlamini, 'Some places of historical importance in Natal and Zululand', 1942.

Killie Campbell, Essay Papers, ' Zulu Royal Regiments', 2 February 1912, p 128.

Killie Campbell Library, Stuart Papers, File 9, Notebook 3, Evidence of Xubu;
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File 41, Notebook 51, Evidence of Socwatsba, 16 March 1907, p 96;
File 58, Notebook 18, Evidence of Mini Ka Ndlovu, 9 Apri1 1910;
File 61, Notebook 31, Evidence of Ndukwana, 1 May 1903, p 3;
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File 61, Notebook 36, Evidence of Mbovu Ka Mshumayeli, 7 February 1904;
File 68, Notebook 9, Evidence of Ngangaye, 14 May 1904, p 12;
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Knight, Ian, Zulu: The Study of a Nation Built on War (New York, Sterling, 1994).

Ladysmith Historical Society, The Hlubi Chiefdom in Zululand and Natal - a history, nd, p 37.

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NAB: Pietermaritzburg Archives Repository: CSO, 44 No. 37, Statement of Hadebe to T Shepstone, 21 March 1848.

NAB: Pietermaritzburg Archives Repository: Fynn Papers, Vol 4, Fynn to Southey, 29 July 1848, and Vol 6, Smith to Mackinnon, 3 April 1848.

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Wright, J B, and Edgecombe, DR, 'Mpande KaSenzangakhona, 1798-1872' in CC Saunders (ed), Black leaders in Southern African History (London, Heinemann, 1979), p 69.

Wright, J B and Edgecombe, DR, 'Mswati 11 C, 1826-65' in CC Saunders (ed), Black leaders in Southern African history (London, Heinemann, 1979), p 65.

Wright, J B, 'Pre-Shakan age-group formation among the Northern Nguni' in Natalia, No 8 (1978), P 11.

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