Ndebele - History and Cultural Relations

It is still unclear when and how the Ndebele parted from the main Nguni-speaking migration along the eastern part of southern Africa. Oral history suggests an early (c. late 1500) settlement in the interior, to the immediate north of present-day Pretoria, under a founder ruler called Musi. A succession struggle among Musi's sons is a probable explanation for the twofold split in clans and the resultant two main tribal categories, Ndzundza and Manala. The twofold split resulted in clans associating themselves with one of the two groups. The majority of clans followed Ndzundza, who migrated to KwaSimkhulu, approximately 200 kilometers east of present-day Pretoria. The numerically smaller Manala occupied the areas called Ezotshaneni, KoNonduna, and Embilaneni, which include what are today the eastern suburbs of Pretoria.

The Ndzundza chieftaincy is believed to have extended its boundaries along the Steelpoort (Indubazi) River catchment area between the 1600s and early 1800s. Several of these settlement sites (KwaSimkhulu, KwaMaza, and Esikhunjini) are known through oral history and are currently under archaeological investigation.

Both the Ndzundza and Manala chiefdoms were almost annihilated by the armies of Mzilikzazi's Matebele (Zimbabwean Ndebele) around 1820. The Manala in particular suffered serious losses, but the Ndzundza recovered significantly under the legendary Mabhoko, during the 1840s. He revolutionized the Ndzundza settlement pattern by building a number of impenetrable stone fortresses and renamed the tribal capital KoNomtjharhelo (later popularly known as Mapoch's Caves). During the middle 1800s, the Ndzundza developed into a significant regional political and military force.

They soon had to face the threat of White colonial settlers, with whom they fought in 1849, 1863, and, finally, in 1883, during the lengthy Mapoch War against the ZAR forces. The latter's tactic of besiegement forced the famine-stricken Ndzundza to capitulate. They lost their independence, their land was expropriated, the leaders were imprisoned (Chief Nyabela to life imprisonment), and all the Ndebele were scattered as indentured laborers for a five-year (1883-1888) period among White farmers. The Manala chiefdom was not involved in the war and had previously (1873) settled on land provided by the Berlin Mission, some 30 kilometers north of Pretoria, at a place the Manala named KoMjekejeke (Wallmannsthal).

Chief Nyabela Mahlangu was released after the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) in 1903 and died soon afterward. His successor tried fruitlessly in 1916 and 1918 to regain their tribal land. Instead, the royal house and a growing number of followers privately bought land in 1922, around which the Ndzundza-Ndebele reassembled. Within the framework of the bantustan or homeland system in South Africa, the Ndebele (both Manala and Ndzundza) were only allowed to settle in a homeland called KwaNdebele in 1979. This specific land, climate, and soil was entirely alien to them.

Also read article about Ndebele from Wikipedia

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May 13, 2012 @ 4:04 am
What was the name of Chief Nyabela Mahlangu's successor?
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Sep 4, 2012 @ 4:04 am
Where is the Manala tribe currently situated? And is the Manala Kingdom still in existence?
Isaac Mahlangu
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Feb 15, 2013 @ 6:06 am
Vuyani Chief Nyabela didn't have a Successor infact he was regent by Chief Fene the Son of Mkhephula(Fene and Mkhephula were Brothers their Father was Mabhoko)
Isaac Mahlangu
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Feb 15, 2013 @ 6:06 am
Lesiba its situated at KwaNdebele and yes is still exist the current Chief is Enoch Mabhena
Citha Kangangasi Mahlangu
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Mar 2, 2013 @ 4:04 am
Nyabela was succeded by his brother Matsitsi, and Mkhephuli was Fenes father not brother.
laz Mnyakeni
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Jul 23, 2013 @ 11:11 am
Manala tribe still existing but we are scattered due to apartheid government we are the only ndebeles who remain in pretoria that's why majority we are atgauteng province klipgat,soshanguve, Davyton,delmas ,Mamelodi,but u can't recognize us cos most of us we are no longer practice our culture due to township life and different religions .the current leader is king makhosoke 11
nontokozo mahlangu
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Sep 3, 2013 @ 6:18 pm
Wow, this is all so interesting. I would love to know more about my origins as I am a young NDebele woman, living in Davyton and I am a Mahlangu. Township life style and "culture" has erased a part of who we really are
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Oct 10, 2013 @ 10:10 am
How did the other Amandebele found themself in Zimbabwe?
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Dec 1, 2013 @ 12:12 pm
Dear Sir/Madam!

I am a young lady who is desperately in search to know about the Luphahla clan and their totems! I would be treasure if one can help me! I am so lost since i just know only my surname, since i live half patents in town! Please i will value any feed back!
Fikile Mahlangu
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Jan 18, 2014 @ 10:10 am
This is all too interesting. I'm a teenage Mahlangu girl (Mahlangu maGhoboli) and I'd really like to be more informed about my roots. I'm a mixed breed but I love my Ndebele side of me. I'm a proud Ndzundza :) I'd like to know how the Ndebele monarchy goes and why our Chiefs are not taken seriously like Chief Zwelithini or the Dlamini royal family for example. Our ancestors did not die for this
Sifiso Mefane
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Jul 7, 2014 @ 7:07 am
Please, help me find the origin of my surname Mefane. I am told I am a Ndebele at other time told am Letebele
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Aug 10, 2014 @ 7:07 am
Why isn't the eastern suburbs of Pretoria aren't renamed to the orginal names that they were named as others places are renamed?a drama should be made about this rich culture inorder to inlight those who don't know much of our histroy
tabiso mahlangu
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Jan 28, 2015 @ 4:16 pm
I grew up being told that I am uNdzundza kaNanase, uNanase kaGodonga, uGodonga kaHetshe. I have not seen any of these other names from the literature. Is there anyone out there who can help.and shed some light. I would.love to know my identity and origin please.
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May 14, 2015 @ 12:12 pm
How did other Nobel people end up in Zimbabwe? Please any one come with a truthful answer , I am still wondering if come from Zimbabwe or SA , since we are from Militaries , and Militaries was a Zimbabwe an Nobel from Shaka Zulu.
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Oct 12, 2015 @ 5:17 pm
My surname is Letsiki, our totem is an Elephant,
We are Amandebele. Our Ancestors lived at Bela -Bela. We were never told about where we came from. We speak mixture of Setswana and Sepedi. We have come together as family to find our history. We want to know whether the name or the surname existed among the Amandebele, where, when?. Please help us.
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Nov 19, 2015 @ 1:13 pm
Please, help me I want to know more about Maphosa surname and culture
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Aug 9, 2016 @ 1:13 pm
Good to see this web and will assist us to understand the origin of the Ndzundza glen.
Mahumutsha Mahlangu
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Jul 25, 2018 @ 5:05 am
Good day to all aMagodonga, i was born here in RSA, but my Father is from Nkai Distric at Zimbabwe, and my Family is still resitting there, so this hisory is not laying to us it is true especially to young People, go there and meet your Ancestors, like me.and we are so many here in RSA from Zimbabwe but we are afraid to talk about it.i need any body who knows Ndata Mahlangu is the elder brother of my Father Mesheke Mahlangu child of Mahumutsha and Mvenda Ngwenya Sister of Khutshwa Ngwenya.here is my Cell; 076 4949815
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Sep 11, 2018 @ 8:08 am
I just want to know how did other ndebeles ended up in Eastern Cape,I was born and grew up in North West province but my roots in Eastern Cape as i was told that my grand father was from Eastern Cape in uMthatha.I speak setswana since i grew up in North West.Here is my clan name "Msi-ka Mhlanga waka Langalibalele".I just want to know how the other ndebeles specifically the Skhosanas ended up in Eastern Cape?
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Aug 13, 2019 @ 3:03 am
As I have read before, if you can look for Msi, Mhlanga genealogy, they fall under amaHlubi. During Shaka wars some stayed with amaZulu, some went to the Eastern Cape, I think that is why you find Skosana surname in the Eastern Cape. Some of the amaHlubi words sounds like Ndebele.
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Aug 13, 2019 @ 3:03 am
@Motsoane, if your totem is elephant, then you are Motebele (Northern Ndebele) from Moletlane or Mokopane.
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Aug 13, 2019 @ 3:03 am
@Motsoane, but also, the Ndebeles in the North originate from Msi.
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May 11, 2020 @ 6:18 pm
I'm a ndebele on my paternal side, I'm just curious to find out if anyone's ever come a cross the name Dumane Skosana, in their ancestiry.
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Aug 14, 2020 @ 3:03 am
@Tsepo The Ndebele of Zimbabwe was foundered by Zulu General Mzilikazi but as a tribe we are comprised of many groups. We have KwaNdebele's from SA, Venda's, Sotho, Swathi, Zulu and Xhosa. In addition we have Kalanga, Karanga and Tswana's. We are an amalgalation of tribes. We divide ourselves into two main groups mzanzi and enhla (south and north. ) enhla are those we picked up on the way. The Mzanzi were at the beginning of the journey.

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