Wednesday, March 17, 2021


The Essence of The Pilgrimage of Incwala - by Rodney Tingo-Kanyama

  • Wednesday, March 17, 2021
  • Samuel Albert

    A perspective from a Nguni of Gomani Ngcamane Maseko

    By Rodney Sigidi Tingo-Kanyama Nzunga, Blantyre, Malawi.

    Submitted on March 2, 2021


    It is five years since the passing of uZwangendaba Mbelwa IV, King of Ncwangeni Jele Nguni of parts of northern and central Malawi. In addition, it is twelve years since the passing of Kanjedza Gomani IV, King of Ngcamane Maseko Nguni of parts of central and southern Malawi1. These were two Nguni Kings who left a permanent mark on Abenguni of Malawi, for having emulated their big brother, reigning King uNjengebaso Mphezeni IV of Ncwangeni Jele Nguni of Chipata eastern Zambia and a part of central Malawi(Mchinji). Kings Mbelwa IV and Gomani IV were both inspired by King Mphezeni IV in taking big and bold actions aimed at bringing back the ever living Nguni memory among their people, which has been so evident since 2008.

    This paper, however is not about the Nguni Kings of Malawi, or Zambia either, but rather a reflection on the ancient Nguni Observance called iNcwala, especially as done by the Mphezeni’s Nguni, which in a normal year should have been officially opened on Thursday 25th February, 2021. This year however, His Royal Highness King Mphezeni IV took the decision to decree the cancellation of the public ceremony, just because of the prevailing covid 19 crisis affecting the whole global world. Just last year in 2020, King Mbelwa V decreed the cancellation of his people’s yearly uMthetho Ceremony. So did King Mswathi Gomani V for his Ngcamane Maseko Ngunis’ uMhlangano omkhulu. This is the first time in recent Nguni memory when anything like this ever has happened. It is a crisis indeed, a time to see things differently. It is time to look enzansi, down south east as our ancestors did in times of personal or collective crises. We reflect on iNcwala with the heart of a pilgrim.


    The Incwala form as observed by Mphezeni Nguni of Chipata2 Zambia was revived in 1980 during the reign of uMphezeni III. Before then, it was last observed in 1898 during the reign of uMphezeni ka Zwangendaba (aka Mphezeni I), and was then banned for the next eighty two years until its revival in 1980. Mphezeni III slept on 11th June, 1981, and as such there was no Incwala in February 1982. But in June of that year, Mtwanakosi(Crown Prince) uNjengebaso entered ubukhosi(Kingship), and he presided over his first Incwala on 25th February, 19833. It has gone uninterrupted for the last thirty -eight years till now, thanks to the corona virus epidemic.

    Mphezeni Nguni kingdom is a migrant nation which exists very far from the original home of Abenguni. It has a character of its own. The iNcwala was revived after many years without one. Final preparations and the actual festivities happen during the months which in the older days, the Nguni

    1 It should be noted that using the criterion of traditional authority, Mbelwa’s Nguni are located in Mzimba district in north Malawi, and in Ntchisi, Dowa, Kasungu, Lilongwe, and Nkhotakota districts in central Malawi; Gomani Nguni are located in Ntcheu, Dedza, and Lilongwe districts in central Malawi, and in Balaka, Machinga, Mangochi, Blantyre, Thyolo, Chiradzulo, Mwanza, and Neno districts in south Malawi.

    2 Formerly known as Fort Jameson, (J. A Barnes, “Politics in a changing Society).

    3 Matshakaza B. Lukhero, “Ngoni Nc’wala Ceremony”,. Published in Lusaka page 29.

    who crossed the Zambezi called Impala, Inkokoni, and Impuso4. Using the modern calendar, we can roughly translate that preparations begin during end-December(Impala). Then in January(Inkokoni) the preparations are in full momentum. During February, meetings can only take place during the first two weeks to conclude the preparations before the Festivals begin, depending on the moon’s position, and the Zambian national calendar of event). We can safely conclude that the month of Incwala for Nguni of Mphezeni is “Impuso” the weeks just between February and March. It is no coincidence or guess work. In the regions of Malawi, and Zambia, we taste the first crops around this period. Circumstances being different then from the situation in Eswathini and South Africa, the processes may have more such divergences

    We can state that iNcwala has three faces: the inner soul face which resides inside people’s hearts; the inner enclosures face (emagumeni) where so much behind the scenes actions happen; and the outer (public) face. It can be argued that what most people know as iNcwala is what is seen in the public face, and it is only one percent of the whole. The ninety -nine percent is what happens in faces of the inner soul, and the inner enclosures. The author cannot claim authority to discuss details competently. Much work is about imisebenzi, a certain order of doing things best left to traditionally certified experts and Omphakathi5.

    In terms of organization, there are generally two types, one being the main organizing committee, and we can argue that its focus tends to be the public outer face of iNcwala. Then there is the team which focuses on the correctness of whatever happens in the inner enclosures. Order must be followed to the last detail, and no recklessness is tolerated in handling matters. The King and the whole Nation go through a renewal process, a time to respond to the Nguni calling again from Nkulunkulu.

    The organization of the public face, events is orderly. The committee appointed is headed by ordinary Nguni citizens who are shortlisted and recruited for their competence in handling events with such a magnitude. Report meetings are organized in council at kaGogo (KwaGogo, eMtenguleni ka Sosela, Matriarch village of Queen Sosela, Great Wife of Jele Nguni Patriarch King, Zwangendaba, mother of Nthuto Mphezeni)6. While the committee is present, representatives from all izibaya (regimental villages) attend too. The representatives include some elders and abamlumnzana(village headmen). The Amakhosi(Zibaya, territorial chiefs) are also in attendance. Some key non-traditional stakeholders also attend, such as local government authorities, health, security, and business personnel. It is a standard set up to encourage everyone to be an active participant. The King himself regularly and personally attends these meetings.

    4 Margaret Read, “Children of their fathers- growing up among The Ngoni of Nyasaland”. Page 123. Copyright Margaret Read 1959, Yale University Press, 1960. It should be noted that the Nguni nations which crossed Zambezi had their own names for the months of a year. The whole year was covered in thirteen months. Margaret translates the third month of “Impuso” as “when first crops are tasted” which according to the situation in Malawi/Zambia/Mocambique corresponds with the last weeks of February and the first week of March.

    5 Courtesy Thabethe Gift Ndengu, Original founding member for Mzimba Heritage, and Co-Administrator, Amasiko Abenguni. “Mphakati” suggests Inner circle, more about confidentiality rather than mere exclusiveness

    6 Matshakaza B. Lukhero, Ngoni Nc’wala, page 30; J A. Barnes, “Politics in a changing Society- a political history of the Fort Jameson Ngoni”, 14-21. The Rhodes-Livingstone Institute, 1954.

    The Great Festival itself is traditionally officially opened at the next full moon in February(Impuso). In the olden days, the days of the week would not matter. However, with the change of Nguni society, as being a part of the modern Zambian republican, and with new stakeholders to make room for, Kugwabula Incwala 7(official opening) always happens on the Thursday morning of the appointed date, usually within the last two weeks of February. The honour to lead this detail is with Induna ka Gogo, Induna of the King’s Grandmother village, Inkosi Madzimawe (Manzimabi)8. Regiments perform iNgoma at the King’s palace of Ekuphendukeni. Then a party arrives to present the first fruits to the King, consisting of uselwa(maswela, gourd/a type of pumpkin), nhlobo(green maize), and imfe (mamphenga, nsinde, a sweet cane in the family of sorghum and millet)9.

    Abonina (elderly women) call out: uMphezeni phuma uhambe! Phuma (come out!) wena ka Libandla lika Nsingu(you of the Council/Army of Nsingu, son of Mphezeni). Hamba wena ka Nthuto Mphezeni(go you of Nthuto Mphezeni)10.The King comes out fully dressed in lion skins to receive them while izimbongi(praise singers) recite the King’s Royal Zwangendaba Jele isibongo and izithakazelo( clan and individual reputational poem) The King enters back into his palace. The process of uKuluma is completed. Then he comes out again to be escorted by a convoy and regiments about twenty five kilometers away to kaGogo at eMtenguleni where everything else to do with iNcwala happens. It is such a spectacle to see the King’s convey drive past the Chipata municipality, with many people lining up, and state security detail in full employment.

    As the King arrives at his kaGogo Royal retreat, he is received by traditional amabutho(regimental warriors) in full ancient Nguni regalia. They all get into trance performing ingoma. The King comes out from his vehicle, and is immediately led to each regiments to perform ukuhlola (inspection). When this is finished, the King is escorted to the retreat house, called eLawini11. It is usually around 4 and 5 p.m when this happens. Some guests are already seated at the podium just next to the King’s retreat house. There is plenty of talking and catching up to do. The King might be seen. INcwala time is a time for the King to observe mzilo(abstinence). Generally it is a quite evening, except for the market areas where so much music, dancing go, and other kinds of merry making go.

    The second day, Friday can truly be called the “iNcwala Day”. The King and his royal guests, mainly other traditional authorities from far and near, Nguni or not, and other leaders, are treated to a day long of izingoma performances. It is an unforgettable event. On the third day, the Saturday, ingoma continues to happen. It is also the day when the King receives the highest elected official guests such as the republican presidents from within Zambia, and their guests, brother-presidents or vice-presidents.

    7 Hilda Kuper, An African Aristocracy, page 203

    8 “Madzimawe” is the corruption of the Nguni phrase, “amanzi”(water) “amabi”(filth/bad). In the Nguni form, it should read “Manzimabi”. Inkosi Madzimawe is fondly called “Gogo”. The Chinyanja translation of “gogo” is “grandparent”, male or female. In Nguni languages however, it has a specific meaning for “Grand mother”. But Inkosi Madzimawe, even though a male person, is “uGogo”. This is because in his traditional role, he is of the Indlunkulu(Big House) of the Queen Mother of Mphezeni, which was eMtenguleni.

    9 AT. Bryant, “The Zulu people- as they were before the white man came”, page 512, Shuter and Shooter, 1949; Matshakaza B. Lukhero, “The Ngoni Nc’wala Ceremony, page 16. Published in Lusaka Zambia. It is interesting to note the use of “maswela” in Lukhero’s book as opposed to “uselwa” in Bryant’s book reflecting the evolution of Isinguni among Ngunis who crossed Zambezi river.

    10 Author’s additional lines, as inspired by the King’s praises and ingoma performances

    11 Margaret Read records this word as “Laweni”. It is also in common use among Mphezeni Nguni. However, sharing notes with Mphezeni Nguni key researcher and analyst, Douglas Mwale (Gumbi Kaziguda) has recommended the use of “Lawini”

    It is the author’s view that this day culminates in two events, namely, the Nguni regimental two kilometer march to the Isikhundla(arena) where guests wait to see Inkosi ya Makosi. The sight of at least a thousand amabutho marching and performing giya12 and in chorus with Ingwenyama amongst them, only tends to take one down the memory lane to when Abenguni north of the Zambezi crossed the mighty river and made it to these parts of the world. It has a lasting effect on your psyche. The King has been in seclusion, making a deep connection with the Most High. It is such a heavy burden to be King. The whole Nguni nation must join him in celebrating.

    Then at the arena itself, Ukuhlaba nzima13(stabbing the black bull) is carefully done by a man set apart for this function. This black bull is given as umnikelo(offering). Ulubende(raw blood) is quickly collected for the King to complete the process. Induna yendlu le Nkosi(the Royal House Induna)14 oversees the roasting of isibindi (liver). In the Nguni tradition, isibindi(liver) symbolizes the much desired quality of any Nguni, chutzpah, grit, resilience, courage, the daring spirit. It can easily be understood why the roasted liver is cut up into pieces and taken first to the King and then passed on to a cross-section of his high level guests.

    The rest of the day ends with speeches by some selected leaders of the Kingdom, and the guest politicians and presentation of gifts to the King. The event closes by around 3 p.m. In the evening a Royal dinner is hosted for the King and some of his guests. In some cases, there are live band performances by such diverse artists as Zambia’s Sakala brothers, Angela Nyirenda, and Malawi’s Lucius Banda in Chipata city. Everyone will have returned home by Sunday.


    The author suggests that all Nguni nations and people have experienced displacements in some form, especially with regard to their locations. It is worse for the present day northern Nguni nations of Sochangane in southern Mocambique, Mzilikazi in Zimbabwe, and farther north, of Zintambila in Angonia Mocambique, Gomani and Mbelwa in Malawi, Mphezeni in Chipata Zambia and Njelu-Mhlophe(Njelu-Mshope)15 Nguni of Tanzania.

    As these northern Nguni nations were migrating, they were being recreated into various forms suffice to say, because of new experiences, assimilations with other cultures, disruptions of constant war scenarios, and eventually the changing society and the resultant new dominant thoughts. These Abenguni groups hardly have had time to revive the iNcwala tradition in a consistent way. There is evidence though that some processes have been maintained though, but hardly any evidence of the

    12 Traditional Nguni performance. It is usually done by an individual warrior with his weapons. It can be compared to kata forms in karate.

    13 Author’s Nguni selected word for “ kuhlaba inkhunzi yomnyama( slaughtering the black bull). It is interesting to note that Baba Matshakaza Blackson Lukhero uses the word “incwamba” for the same. It is important to note that the author assumes that “Nzima/Mnyama” stands for “darkness”, which can be a state of melancholy or potential calamity. However, Nguni analyst Simao Chatepa holds the view that the “black bull” of Abenguni symbolizes originality of life, something like the Genesis story in the Jewish Bible, a static state

    14 Author’s personal Nguni suggested words.

    15 Patrick M. Redmond, “A political History of the Songea Ngoni from the mid-nineteenth Century to the rise of the Tanganyika African National Union, Proquest, pages 59-89

    practice of the whole ceremony as we know it. The Nguni of Sochangane16, Mzilikazi, Zintambila, Gomani, Mbelwa, and Njelu-Mhlophe do not do iNcwala in their domains. There is simply no institutional memory and precedent in these Kingdoms. However, old writings by anthropologists such as Margaret Read and Barnes indicate that some old Nguni of Gomani and Mbelwa in the 1930s still remembered something of iNcwala17.

    We are therefore very fortunate that Nguni of Mphezeni have kept this tradition. Though once banned by the British in 1898, it was finally revived. At its revival in the 1980s it must have been largely a local Zambian event. With the political changes of 1990s in both Zambia and Malawi from one party to multi-party democracies, it has become more open. Mphezeni Nguni of Malawi attend in multitudes. Over time, King Mbelwa of Mzimba too has made a number of trips to observe the Ncwala. King Kanjedza Gomani did not live long enough to make the pilgrimage to Ncwala, but thanks to his direction and the efforts of his close aide, a Nguni elder called Impi Charles Govati, Maseko Nguni of Malawi18 and Mocambique are high on the list of pilgrims to iNcwala of Mphezeni. Notable among them are the Zintambila Maseko Royal house of Mocambique, several senior members of the Gomani Maseko Royal House including King Mswathi Gomani V himself, and Mgazi Maseko Nguni royal family of South Africa19.

    Other international high profile dignitaries have also been guests at iNcwala, such as Nxamalala Msholozi His Excellency Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma while he was South Africa’s Deputy President. King Zwelithini’s Chief Induna, Thulasizwe Shenge Inkosi Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi too, has visited.

    There is little doubt that King Mphezeni’s iNcwala is a big force in Southern Africa in many other ways. It is a big event which facilitates many commercial activities. It attracts wide media publicity, and is a big tourist attraction. In some other way, at an arts and museum center called Kungoni at Mua, Dedza in central Malawi, the Zambian ingoma hlombe style performance has been perfectly mastered by the dance troupe composed of mainly Maseko Ngunis and Chewa.

    There is yet no evidence of will to revive iNcwala in the other northern Nguni Kingdoms. Perhaps the Mzilikazi Kingdom of Ndelebes in Zimbabwe might be the first to do it when it has been properly recognized as a Kingship. In the Shangaan areas, there is no evidence of will. In Gomani’s kingdom, they do Mhlangano at the grave of King Gomani ka Tshikuse Maseko who was killed by the British in 1896. In Mbelwa’s Kingdom they do uMthetho at Hola Mountain, the scene of a tragic punitive war against rebelling Baza Dokowe.

    In Tanzania, it is Government policy not to recognize kingships. However the Njelu-Mhlophe Nguni celebrate Maji maji, the tragic war with German forces in the 1800s which cost Nguni lives. All these

    16 Consultations with Baba Simao Hodges Chatepa. It is important to note that though the Shangaan people of Mocambique do not have a King,and therefore cannot celebrate Incwala, Baba Simao mentions Portuguese records which document that founder of the Gasa(Shangaan) Kingdom, Sochangane held Incwala in the 1820s.

    17 Margaret Read, “Ngoni of Nyasaland”, pages

    18 Impi Charles Govati appears courtesy of Gomani Amangcamane Trust. In more ways than can be stated, the author owes much of his lifetime journey in ubunguni to Baba Govati who has tirelessly mentored, reprimanded, and sponsored him on countless occasions. The author constantly consults Impi Govati on matters of ubunguni. Baba Govati introduced the author to many illustrious Nguni. He also led the author to the kraal of King Mphezeni, and introduced him to the royal house of Mdlasomi ka Khophoza ka Mgazi ka Khabangobe ka Maphanga, Ngcamane Maseko Nguni of South Africa. And he recommended the author to the Friends of Kungoni. Let alone the author’s personal benefits, it is hard to imagine how Ngcamane Maseko Nguni history would have been developed without the individual efforts of Baba Charles Govati.

    19 Revival of Maseko Ngoni records.

    events are not equivalent to iNcwala though, but unique to the individual kingdoms, just as Shaka Day and Isandlwana are unique to Amazulu or if HRH King Mphezeni decreed that there will be Nsingu Day every year20. Since, iNcwala is the common tradition to all Nguni nations, it has sometimes been suggested that all northern Nguni Kingships with particular emphasis to those of Mbelwa and Gomani must do their own iNcwala. The thrust of the traditionalists’ recommendation is that just as ultimately each person must bear his own burdens, each Nguni King can only fully observe his own Incwala21. How exactly that would be done or when it will be decided to be done, can only be the prerogative of the Royal Seats and their Councils of Amakhosi, and not for their obedient servant like the author. They could do it in a rather small localized way. It does make sense to do at least the first fruits/crops process.


    We now come to the critical question: what is the point of maintaining the Incwala tradition at all? Is it a relic of the past, irrelevant to the times we are in, or perhaps a Chipata Zambia Nguni, Eswathini, and Kwazulu matter and not for other Ngunis? The author is of the view that the Incwala spirit must be kept alive always, as discussed below:

    Ubumbano(Unification)22. Ubunguni(Nguni life) thrives on our living collective memory, where we have come from, where we are, and where we are going. This is done mainly through izibongo(praises) and izingoma(Nguni singing). It is not about living in the past, but always being mindful of the power of precedents. At Incwala, Abenguni come together to observe their common destiny23. We are renewed and refocused as a people. There is a good reason why the British colonialists frowned on iNcwala and why the African Governments of Zambia and Malawi (one-party) might have some reservations about it. We cannot ignore the power of our living memories.

    Kunyathela24. First fruits. The spirit of gratitude is admirable in any human being of any colour, creed or religion. Nothing wrong with Abenguni giving thanks in the way they know best.

    Zambezi crossing. This is unique to Abenguni of Zwangendaba(Mphezeni and Mbelwa) and Ngwana Maseko (Gomani, Zintambila, Kachindamoto). Crossing the Zambezi was a permanent change of our circumstances. It was a sort of crisis moment, an entry into very unfamiliar territories, an uncertain future. Some Ngunis must have wished they returned back home where their life experience was more familiar, more predictable, and therefore more secure. But the Leadership decided that there was never going to be any looking back. They pressed on to break new ground (vul’indlela), to pursue the dreams “Amaphupho”25 Incwala revives this memory of great change. It takes a new meaning this year with the covid 19 crisis. Economies have been disrupted. Just how shall we face the many problems as Abenguni?

    20 Matshakaza Blackson Lukhero, “The Ngoni Nc’wala Ceremony”, page 14. Matshakaza writes the sonname of the son of Mphezeni as “Nsingo”, a militant Crown Prince who went to war with the British.

    21 Revival of Maseko Ngoni (Gomani Amangcamane Trust) briefings

    22 Revival of Maseko Ngoni and Mgazi Ngcamane Maseko Nguni Council (South Africa) records.

    23 O. F Raum, “The Interpretation Of The Nguni First Fruits Ceremony

    24 Matshakaza B. Lukhero, page 4; AT Bryant, The Zulus before the white men came to them”

    25 Y. M. Chibambo, “My Ngoni of Nyasaland”, Lutterworth Press, United Society for Christian Literature, page 24. This book was translated by Rev. Charles Stuart from the original Tumbuka version“Midauko, Makani gha Wangoni”, authored by the same Rev. Yesaya Mlonyeni Chibambo. In his book, the word is translated as “Mapupo”. The author received his copy as a present from late Mr. Frank Johnson as encouragement in pursuing knowledge of ubunguni.

    Nzima26. The black bull that is slain at Incwala and everything detailed process about this tradition is a constant reminder of the pain of leadership for the King and for Sizwe sonke sabenguni(Nguni nation). It is not for the King alone. It is like Jacob when he wrestled with the delegated of the Most High, throughout the night27. He went away limping, but with the prize of blessings, and a new name Israel. The slaying of the black bull is about facing the Giants in our lives, “Amaf’omnyama” (Dark clouds) we must wrestle with: How will we govern our society and solve its problems? Ubunguni, as Amavulindlela(the founders of Nguni nations) lived, is not for the fainthearted. It is not about performing Ingoma at Incwala and that’s it, “sala kahle Baba, zobonana next year!”. When Incwala se imbonyiwe28 it is ended, the real life begins, everyday life! Real test of ubunguni.

    Theme of coexistence with others. Modern day Incwala is never for Abenguni alone. Many guests are received. In fact it is put in the republican national calendar of events. In any case, Abenguni do not exist and live in closed systems. Former President of Malawi, Prof. Peter Mutharika once said “it is important for Ngoni people to celebrate their culture. But they must remember to co-exit with others”29. As a people who have gone through many cycles of both the triumph of conquests and the trauma of defeats, Abenguni tend to risk being self-centred, and sometimes our collective psyche is exposed to various negative energies and toxic narcissism30. The renewal spirit of Incwala takes us into the opposite direction, to embrace humanity with the spirit of practical ubunthu(Umunthu)31. The world of today is not about tribal groups. It is our opportunity now to contribute to the building of our nations and the SADC region, together.


    It’s time for ukugolozela, (contemplation) when each person has to contemplate and connect with spirituality. The historical fate of the African in the last four hundred years is that he was subdued in two ways, slavery and then colonization. Colonization is well familiar to Abenguni, but anyone suggesting that Abenguni were taken into slavery are not dealing with truth appropriately. However, the effects are the same, all about losing what we value, and displacement. Since four hundred years ago then, we have experienced change in Nguni economic lives, education, and religion.

    It is like being summoned to participate in the Council of Ancestors (Libandla la Madlozi)32, with all kings of olden times present, and the present ones too. A diverse kind of people are in attendance too, including surprisingly people of distant races. There is a chilling silence until the Chief Induna instructs a Holocaust survivor to address the Council. The holocaust survivor does not turn to the Kings but instead turns to the person summoned, and says: “adversity has run you down, and you cannot rise above it by finding meaning in giving service to humanity”33. As the words sink down the mind, and after give the Royal salute, many thoughts run through: modern education is an advantage, and Abenguni, old and young, cannot think twice about seeking it. No one in the world can claim originality in knowledge and skills. It is always about learning from others and owning it.

    26 Author’s Nguni selected word for “inkhunzi yomnyama(black bull).

    27 Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi with Joel Segel, “Jewish with Feeling”, page 192.

    28 Margaret Read, “The Ngoni of Nyasaland”, page 61. International African Institute, Oxford University Press. In the early 1930s, Margaret Read lived for three years among the Nguni of Nyasaland(Ngcamane Maseko Nguni of Ntcheu and Mocambique, and of Mbelwa, Mzimba) and of Mphezeni Jele, Chipata Zambia. He research assistant was the Rev. Y.M Chibambo.

    29 Author’s personal reminiscence of Press report.

    30 Robert Greene, “The Laws of Human Nature”, profile books, pages 42-71

    31 Chiwoza Bandawe, “Practical Umunthu Philosophy, Montfort Press, page 19

    32 Napoleon Hill, “Think and Grow Rich, pages 249-257. Revised and extended by Dr Arthur R. Pell

    33 Victor Frankl, “Man’s Search For Meaning”, pages 135-184.

    In religion too, many Abenguni have become Christians. Nothing wrong too, since at the heart of spirituality, all things turn to one end, Nkulunkulu who is the same for all. A true Mnguni therefore is also a worshipper, a prayer warrior. It’s not about returning to our primitive ways, and certainly not just about taking everything from others either.

    It is about rediscovering ubunguni and positioning it powerfully in the modern world. It is about finding the spirit of the monkey cartoon character curious George, who was forcefully taken out of Africa, exiled, was alone, but with an ever enthusiastic spirit he makes something out of everything and every situation, just like Israel’s son, Joseph, the ultimate enterprising person. We cannot continue the vicious cycles like the countless Abenguni who are trapped in the toxic narcissistic tendencies of modern life, which at their worst have the potential to turn a whole population into a nation of psychopaths who only treat other human beings like objects when we should be taking care of one another 34. Even in displacement, we must find our way.

    The memory of the Council of Amadlozi keeps coming. It is like Dlozi(Ancestor) Lion King Mufasa addressing Simba: “you have forgotten me!” Ubunguni is our true Lifa (inheritance). Perhaps by taking care of it instead of “just paying lip service”35 we might do something great about it by taking our place in the Circle of Life36. We have a choice. Nguni nations did not just happen. Likewise, Nguni history did not just happen. Success and failure do not just happen. They result from human actions. We cannot be trapped by our past. We look at the world as it is now. And yet our memories are living. We tap on the hustling spirit37 of our founders to forge our collective future, openness, determination (inkani), complete preparedness, warrior ethic, leadership, and self-reliance (ukuzithemba), and reputation(Isithunzi, shadow/Soul-force)38. Such a balancing act.

    Ubunguni angeke buphele (Ungoni sungaphele)39, ubunguni cannot be perished. Abenguni angeke aphele wonke (Angoni satha onse)40, not all Abenguni die. Vuka mathambo41 ka Mavulindlela ba Sizwe sabeNguni! Vuka mathambo ka Zwide! Vuka mathambo ka Zwangendaba Jele! Vuka mathambo ka Ngwana Maseko42. Vuka mathambo ka Baba Sangwa Steven Ngoma! Vuka mathmbo

    34 Daniel Goleman, “ Social Intelligence, Ne Science of Human Relationships”, pages 117-132.

    35 King Gomani Kanjedza IV, Speech, Mua Cultural Open Day, 8th August, 2009. HRH Kanjedza Gomani’s reign lasted only a year, the shortest in record history, but the Nguni renaissance spirit he implanted in his people is unprecedented. His vision has made it possible for Ngcamane Maseko Nguni to properly document their history, and reconnect with Nguni of Mbelwa, Mphezeni, Zintambila, remnants of Ngcamane Maseko Nguni of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, Njelu-Mhlophe Nguni of Tanzania, and the Mdlasomi ka Khophoza ka Mgazi ka Khabangobe ka Maphanga Ngcamane Maseko Royal House of South Africa.

    36 Disney’s “The Lion King”(book and motion picture).

    37 50 Cent and Robert Greene, “The 50th Law”, pages 27-68. Profile Books

    38 Mike Boon, “The African Way- the power of Interactive Leadership” page 31-45. Zebra Press

    39 A well proverb among Mphezeni Nguni. The author personally heard, Inkosi Mnukwa(one of King Mphezeni’s chiefs) mention it in Libandla(Council). A common feature in ingoma of Mphezeni Nguni

    40 A well known proverb among Ngcamane Maseko Nguni of Malawi.

    41 “Arise dry bones”, lines borrowed from “Vuka mathambo” a song by South Africa’s mbaqanga female Trio Imithente. From their album by the same name.

    42 It is not uncommon to come across some Nguni groups and writers who hold the view that Gomani Maseko Nguni are a break way from King Mzilikazi ka Mashobane Khumalo founder of the Ndebele Kingdom. This view is not fully backed by historical facts. HRH Mswathi Gomani V, King of Maseko Nguni of Malawi, is a direct descendant of Ngwana Masesenyana Mnyandazizwe Maseko. An analysis of several old sources at Malawi National Archives, as well as writings of A.T Bryant, Phillip Bonner, and Mandla Maseko clearly say that Ngwana Maseko’s Nguni state originated from Usuthu(Lusuthu) Valley in Eswathini. He left around 1823 with Nxaba Nsane and Zwangenda after the Ndwandwe were defeated by Shaka Zulu. The three lived together in the Zimbabwe are before Mzilikazi arrived. Margaret Read in the 1930s recorded an isibongo(praise) for Ngwana in her short write up, Songs of Ngoni People, and in one line it says “wena oSilo, Amachamani, nge

    ka Baba uLasamu Zimba! Qina43 mathambo ka Zikhulu zika Libandla ka Njengebaso Mphezeni IV Kosi! Qina mathambo ka Baba uCharles Govati ka Phumisa umlondolozi wakithi! Bayethe Inkosi ya Makhosi, uNjengebaso Mphezeni Jele! Nina bohlanga, nina bomdabuko, Amakhosi bonke bakithi, Nina ka Ndlovu. Thina Sizwe masithi Bayetheee! Nina izindaba za zitha!

    Sidwaba so Luthuli”. This is rightly spelled as “Amangcamane…Sidwaba so Luthuli”, a well known isithakazelo(praise) for the Ngcamane Maseko royal clan.

    43 “Qina”, stand firm..the last lines are a celebration of Nguni heroes of past and present including Baba Sangwa Ngoma, an old man whom the Mphezeni Nguni turned to as “Mlondolozi”, guide to remind them about the Way of Incwala.