LEGEND OF QUEEN NANDI

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THE LEGEND OF QUEEN NANDI

Since the beginning of time, women had a great share in shaping history by different means during different periods. Since the African continent is rich with historical cultures, we can`t neglect the role of African women in building this history. We have to remember those women who stood by the side of men who rose to prominence and their influence in the shaping history as we know it today.

In the past, women were considered inferior citizens whose existence was limited to the confines of homes and care of the children. Despite this our country is replete with many examples of female dynasties, regents and rulers who took up positions of leadership through periods of wars of resistance. In the Zulu culture we know of Queen Nandi, the mother of Shaka and also his aunt Mkabayi ka Jama*(1) who helped shape the Zulu nation behind the scenes to what it is today.

For this research project I have compiled as much information as possible from resource material and interviews about Nandi, the mother Shaka, King of the Zulus. In researching the subject I could not find any sources that give a full detailed description of Nandi from her birth to her death in 1827 only small references and brief descriptions. I have gathered information from books and the Internet and compiled it into one historical background of Nandi through interviews and historical research retraced Nandi`s life from her birthplace to her death with emphasis on locating her first `Emkindini uMuzi`, that was built for her in the Melmoth area adjacent to the farm, Nandi Mission, owned by Mr.W.H Els. According to elders in the vicinity, the `Emkindini uMuzi` was located on a small hill which is now covered by a large bamboo bush.  This however has not been proven and is only based on oral representation.

The history of Nandi and that of her son, Shaka,the great Zulu king and founder of the Zulu nation has mostly been gleaned from oral sources and some written references from the diary of the African trader, Henry Francis Fynn. Fynn spent a great deal of time with Shaka and was also present at the death of Nandi. There are however many inconsistincies regarding the subject.

Some of the most crucial events leading up to the establishment of the Shakan empire took place within a few kilometres of Melmoth situated between modern day Eshowe and the Zulu Capital, Ulundi. The legacy of Queen Nandi is intertwined with that of her son Shaka and it would be impossible to compile a historical background on her without including references and a background to the rise and fall of Shaka as Nandi played such a pivotal role in his life.

*(1) Mkabayi kaJama was the daughter of Jama kaNdaba chief of the Zulu clan from 1763 – 1781.                                         Mkabayi had a twin sister and according to Zulu custom one of the twins had to be sacrificed  to avoid bad luck that would result in the death of one of the parents. Jama refused and consequently his wife died without bearing him a successor. Mkabayi devoted her life to looking after her father and various succesors of the Zulu Kingdom in gratitude to her father for sparing her life.As her father was aging and had no succesor she courted Mthaniya Sibiya for her father without his  knowledge. Mthaniya bore him a son named Senzangakona (`we have done accordingly`) who succeeded him after  Jama`s death in 1781.

Jama`s grave is on the farm Heelgoed that lies within the Emakosini Valley. (The Valley of the Kings)The farm was sold to the Amalfa Historical Society by Mr.,W.H.Els in 1996. Mkabayi remained a influential figure in the life of her brother King Senzangakona, and his son, King Shaka, King Dingane and King Mpande. In fact she was so influential, the most famous phrase was: `Buzani ka Mkabayi,` meaning, consult Mkabayi for any solution