Toy Soldiers and Dining Room Battles

Toy Soldiers and Dining Room Battles

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Kingdom of Ngoni

The rise of the Zulu nation to dominance in southern Africa in the early nineteenth century (1815 - 1840) disrupted many traditional alliances. Around 1817, the Mthethwa alliance, which included the Zulu clan, came into conflict with the Ndwandwe alliance, which included the Nguni people from the kwaZulu-Natal.

One of the military commanders of the Ndwandwe army, Zwangendaba Gumbi (c1780–1848), was the head of the Jele or Gumbi clan, which itself formed part of the larger emaNcwangeni alliance in what is now north-east kwaZulu-Natal. In 1819, the Zulu army under Shaka defeated the Ndwandwe alliance at a battle on the Umhlatuze River, near Nkandla. The battle resulted in the diaspora of many indigenous groups in southern Africa.

In the following decades, Zwangendaba led a small group of his followers north through Mozambique and Zimbabwe to the region around the Viphya Plateau.  In this region he established a state, using Zulu warfare techniques to conquer and integrate local peoples.

The date on which Zwengandaba's party crossed the River Zambezi, sometimes given in early writings as 1825, has been argued to have been on 20 November 1835.

Following Zwangendaba's death in 1848, succession disputes split the Ngoni people. Zwangendaba's following and the Maseko Ngoni eventually created seven substantial Ngoni kingdoms in Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi. 

While the Ngoni were primarily agriculturalists, cattle were their main goal for raiding expeditions and migrations northward.  They raided north, taking women in marriage and men into their fighting regiments.  The Ngoni integrated conquered subjects into their warfare and organization, becoming more a ruling class than an ethnic group, and by 1895 few individuals were of pure Ngoni descent in the world of In Her Majesty's Name.


  1. Great figures beautifully painted!

    1. Thanks! The best figure I think is the one yelling the challenge.