History of KwaZulu Natal, KZN early history about the Zulu Nation

KZN North Happenings





Compiled and written by Louis-John Havemann

I make no claim to being an historian. I merely relate stories that were told to me verbally, by Zulu elders, chiefs and princes of the Zulu royal family about the Zulu history, including the history of Shaka Zulu, during the course of my life growing up and living in Zululand.
This because of my lifelong interest in this matter, has resulted in me having read many and various papers and books on this fascinating subject of the Zulu Nation, and has further resulted in me being asked on numerous occasions to render an opinion.
The early Zulu history was to a large extent unwritten and carried on down the ages in the stories told by custodians of their nation's history, namely the royal family and various indunas. These "Bards or story tellers were entrusted to tell the stories verbatim as they had heard them and not alter the tale in anyway whatsoever. Obviously the verbal story does alter down the line but by and large with the application of common sense and logic, the "true story" can be reasonably unravelled to ascertain the truth, and accuracy of these "Folk Stories" and Legends.
The romantic side of me could never allow me to be a factual historian, as I find that I enjoy the excitment of a story too much to designate it to cold hard facts.

Enjoy the stories, they are to the best of my knowledge as close to the truth as I can reasonably ascertain.








Information about the history of KwaZulu-Natal, KZN, including information about the rise of the Zulu Nation in South Africa, early Natal history, Vasco de Gama, the history of the Nguni people in KwaZulu Natal and early Natal, the British settlement in Natal and general history about KwaZulu Natal



We read in the chapter of KZN History how the NGUNI PEOPLE migrated down the east coast of Africa finally arriving at the Pongola River where the first significant breakaway by Ngwane, led to the formation of Northern and Southern Nguni groups. Contact with San hunters produced the "click" sounds characteristic of their language today.


A section of the Northern Nguni people kept on moving south to become the Zulu nation and their royal genealogy starts with Luzumane.
There are claims that the Zulu genealogy goes back from, Mnguni to Nkosinkulu, to Mdlani to Luzumane. There could be confusion here with Zulu who was also known as Nkosinkulu, however this cannot really be fully substaniated according to the records that are available.
Luzumane had a son called Malandela. A lot of history books state that Malandela is the founder of the Royal Zulu line, but if you examine the Zulu history a bit deeper, you will find that Malandela is known as "Malandela ka Luzumane". In the Zulu language the prefix "ka" means "of" or "son of", hence Malandela son of Luzumane


There is a traditional greeting that I was familar with as a young man and that was "Sanibona amaDoda ka Mlandela, khati ngiko landela zinkomo za manye madoda", which is translated to "I greet you men of Malandela, you have always followed other men's cattle". This referred to the fact that the Zulu men, being part of the victorious army, always drove (followed) other men's captured cattle home.



It is Malandela who finally settled in the uMhlatuze River Valley close to Mandawe Hill near Eshowe and the present day Shakaland Hotel.
He had a son, called Ntombela kaMalandela.

Ntombela had two sons, Qwabe the eldest and Zulu meaning Heaven, who is also referred to as Nkosinkulu (Great Chief or King).
After Ntombela died a disagreement developed between Qwabe and Zulu.

Zulu together with his mother Mbokodo uNozidiya left Qwabe in the uMhlatuze Valley and crossed over the Melmoth and Mthonjaneni heights into what is now known as the Emakhosini Valley (Valley of the Kings) and settled on the banks of the uMpembeni stream.

This area lies just south of the White Umfolozi River

Zulu finally got married and this was the start of the new tribe or clan, known as "Ama Zulu" or "People of Heaven".




Not much is known about the early line of Zulu and it is only when we get to Senzangakhona ka Jama that we have reasonably accurate facts to relate.

I list the names in order of the Zulu dynasty after Zulu:- (ca. = circa approximately)
(1.) Ghumede kaZulu.

(2.) Phunga kaGhumede d 1727.

(3.) Mageba kaPhunga ca. 1667 - 1745. (Some records say that he was brother to Phunga and was therefore Mageba ka Ghumede).

(4.) Ndaba kaMageba ca. 1697 - 1763 Chief from ca. 1745 - 1763.

(5.) Jama kaNdaba ca.1757 - 1781 Chief from 1763 - 1781.

(6.) Senzangakhona kaJama ca. 1757 - 1816. Chief from 1781 - 1816.
(7.) Shaka Zulu kaSenzangakhona 1787 - 1828. King from 1816 - 1828

(8.) Dingane kaSenzangakhona ca.1795 - 1840. Half brother to Shaka and King from 1828 - 1840

(9.) Mpande kaSenzangakhona.1798 - 1872. Half brother to Shaka and King from 1840 - 1872.
Shaka, Dingane and Mpande were half brothers, same father but different mothers. Bear in mind that the Zulus are polygamous.
(10.) Cetshwayo kaMpande. 1836 - Feb 1884. King from 1872 - 1884

(11.) Dinizulu kaCetshwayo. 1868 - 1913. King from 1884 - 1913.

(12.) Solomon (Maphumuzana) kaDinizulu. 1890 - 1933 King from 1913 - 1933.

(13.) Cyprian Bhekuzulu kaSolomon. 1924 - 1968. King from 1948 - 1968.
(14.) Goodwill Zwelethini kaBhekuzulu. King Goodwill Zwelethini is considered to be the eighth Zulu King. Born 14 July 1948 and King since 1971.

Zulu (Nkosinkulu), Punga, Mageba, Ndaba, Senzangakhona, Mpande and Dinizulu are all buried in the Emakhosini Valley.




In order to grasp the very basic fabric and foundation of the early Zulu and in fact all the Nguni Peoples, you have to understand that their cattle were the centre and cornerstone of their lifestyle.The entire Nguni migration down the east coast of southern africa was at the pace of the ox so to speak. Time was not important to them and the southward migration was slow and unhurried.

Their culture in fact, considered haste when meeting or introducing themselves to strangers, or haste when conducting any form of meeting or parley (Indaba), as very bad manners, displaying a total lack of courtesy.


Cattle and to a lesser extent goats and then sheep, were the benchmark and yardstick of a person's or a tribe's wealth. The more you had the wealthier you were.


The condition and health of the cattle were secondary in comparison to the number of animals.

I do not know of another group of people, that had their cattle play such a major role in their lives and lifestyles, as the Nguni people of Africa.

Cattle influenced the arrangement of their huts in their villages, right up to laws governing marriages, known as "Lobolo" or the bridal price.

Their lifestyle revolved around the the care of their herds.


These small rangy and scrubby cattle are known as the "Nguni" breed of cattle, made up of many and varied colours. The Zulus had over 300 words to describe the colours of their cattle.

Horn shapes were also very aptly named to describe certain animals.


Nguni cattle were and still are classified as part of the "Bos Indicus" breed of cattle. These are also sometimes known as 'humped cattle' or 'indicus' cattle, and are much hardier and better-adapted to tropical environments than the other domestic cattle, known as "Bos Taurus", which mainly stemmed from Europe.


Some of the colours of cattle were described as "Izinpugane ebisini", "The flies in the milk" given to a white skin with lots of small black spots thus representing flies that had fallen into and were floating on the surface of the milk. "Amaqanda we Titiyoya" "The eggs of the Crowned Plover" describing a mottled skin with marks and colours resembling the eggs of a Crowned Plover. "Amatshe we Ngoya" "The rocks of the Ngoye range of mountains" resembling brownish pastel colours of the Ngoye mountain rocks.

Horns that were curved forward and then swept back were given the name "Mfazi wa lahlega icxala" "The woman who lost her court case" said to resemble a woman throwing up her hands in despair with her elbows bent forward and her open palms facing up with the fingers pointing backwards.


When Senzangakhona became chief after his father Jama died, the lifestyle of the Zulu people had not changed much in hundreds of years.

The Zulu tribe was a small rather minor tribe of about 800 to 1000 people.

The history of the Zulu People can be divided in three distinct phases viz.
1.) The time from Luzumane until Senzangakhona.
2.) From Shaka until Cetshwayo.
3.) From Cetshwayo's death until the present day.



The social structure and lifestyle of the Southern Nguni People including the Zulus, had not changed overly much for many years.


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