Nandi returns to the Langeni

nandi_300Nandi, Shaka and Noncuba sought sanctuary in the Mtlatuze Valley with the eLangeni people where it seems they were not welcomed. Shaka became a herd-boy at his mother`s I-Ngugo kraal in the Elangeni area about 48 kilometres away from his father`s kraal. It was apparently not a happy time for Shaka or Nandi as she felt herself disgraced through the dismissal of Senzangakhona. Shaka himself was subjected to humiliation and bullying by the older boys who referred to him as `the fatherless one`. He became anti-social and unpopular. Few people liked the arrogant Nandi or her son.This unhappiness may explain Shaka`s subsequent lust for power and his hatred against the eLangeni. In Zulu cronicles Nandi is said to have soothed Shaka by saying: `Never mind , my Um-lilwane (Little Fire), you have the got the isibindi ( liver, meaning courage) of a lion and one day you will be the greatest chief in the land.` (Quote from E.A Ritter – Shaka Zulu)

A few adult women defended him and were kind to him. Among these his grandmother, Mntaniya, Mkabi the chief wife of Senzangakhona and Mkhabayi  (*7), Senzangakhona`s  sister.

It seems throughout his childhood, Mkabi (Senzangakhona`s mother) and Mkabayi, his older sister, visited Nandi and Shaka. Shaka never forgot this and when he came into power he placed them in the highest positions in the land- they became reigning queens of his military kraals and he maintained them there to his death. Shaka idolised Nandi and he had great resentment for the way Nandi had been treated by Senzangakhona and  the people of the eLangeni tribe who referred to his illigitimate birth. On the one hand he exalted those who treated his mother well but revenged all those who had slighted Nandi and ridiculed him.

According to the Diary of Henry Fynn, Nandi  had married a `commoner of the Langeni tribe named, Gendeyana (Ngendeyana) and bore him a son called Ngwadi. In about 1802 the eLangeni were affected by a great famine and Nandi, unable to provide food for her children, moved the family to the Mpahla flats, east of Eshowe near the Amatikulu river. In the book Shaka Zulu by E.A Ritter, Nandi at this time went to join Gendeyana, by whom she already had a child and who lived among the Ama-Mbedweni people, a sub-clan of the Qwabes. She was well received but Shaka (15) felt no rightful place and was sent by Nandi to live with Macingwane of the Cunu clan.


(*6)Footprints in Time-Natal, I.L.Perrett

(*7)Mkhabayi later played a pivotal role in the death of Shaka.


Shortly after,Nandi again sent Shaka to live with her father`s sister in Mtetwaland north of the present day Kwambonambi. Shaka Zulu and Nandi found refuge with her aunt at the mDletsheni clan which dwelt directly under the powerful Mthethwa and their aging king Jobe. Jobe was succeeded by his son Dingiswayo – Godongwane.  E.A Ritter states, Nandi, Shaka and his siblings all went to live in the area presided by Ngomane, son of Mqombolo of the Dletsheni clan and a chieftain under the rule of King Jobe.

It was 1803 and for the first time in many years Nandi and Shaka were treated with kindness

and sympathy at the Mthetwa home of her aunt. Shaka became a herdboy for Ngomane and lived with Mbiya, who became a foster-father to him.  In 1809, Jobe died and his son, Dingiswayo returned home and became chief.

Shaka was about twenty-three years old when Dingiswayo called up the emDlatsheni Intanga(age group) of which he was part, and incorporated it in the iziCwe regiment.All the young men of Shaka`s age group were called up and Shaka became a soldier living the Ema-Ngweni kraal under the leadership of Buza.  Shaka served as a Mthethwa warrior for six years, and distinguished himself with his courage, rising to a general.