Sunday, October 17, 2010


Some Interesting Observation By a Sympathetic Missionary Observer on the Language and Manners of the Maseko Ngoni in 1894

  • Sunday, October 17, 2010
  • Samuel Albert
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  • By Miss A Werner, British Central Africa.

    The Angoni Zulu are like their congeners in the south, a fine, manly, warlike race. Dr. Elmslie says of Chekusi’s people, “There are now no Ngoni among them, and their language is Nyanja” (ie Mang'anja), but I think this is too sweeping. Certainly, in 1894, I saw and talked with an old woman from Chekusi’s kraal,who knew Zulu; and I was given to understand that the language was still spoken by some of the older headmen.

     However that may be, the people generally spoken of at Blantyre as Angoni are Mang’anja pure and simple - vassals (or so they were in my time) of Chatantumba and his brother Mandala. They came over in gangs during the winter, or dry season, to hire themselves out as plantation-hands or tenga-tenga men (carriers),returning in time to hoe their gardens at the beginning of the rains. They are cheery,patient,honest, hard-working fellows-I never met any one who had not a good word for them; and, personally, I must say I always felt a strong liking for them. I believe that they had,on retuming, to hand over a proportion of their calico to the chief; and I know that he occasionally came down upon them (as already referred to) for real or supposed delinquencies in rather a high-handed fashion. They were not allowed to keep cattle, and their sons, as they grew up, were liable tn be summoned to the chief's kraal to assist in herding his. But,on the whole, I do not think they found this state of serfdom very oppressive I may take this opportunity of saying a word about slavery-a most misleading term, if used without further explanation. I mean domestic slavery, as distinguished from the cruel system of buying or raiding for the market, which, it cannot be too often repeated, is (in our day at any rate) always, either directly or indirectly, due to Europewn or other outsiders.With regard to domestic slavery, perhaps it will be the clearest illustration of my meaning, by saying that, among the Mang’anja families whom I personally know in the south of Angoniland (or more precisely, in the district marked on the maps of the protectorate as “West Shire ”)-there were a good many Yaos, who, I suppose, were technically slaves, since they had been brought back as captives in former raids; but there was nothing,so far as I could see, to mark their status.

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