Episode 101 - Mnkabayi dresses like a man and Dingane drowns his brother

Port Natal was steeped in fear and loathing in late 1828 follow in Shaka’s assassination on the 24th September 1828 which had thrown the traders into a panic.

They anticipated that Shaka’s death would lead to a civil war, and that they’d be targeted in the coming political storm. Most fled their homesteads and clambered aboard the schooner Elizabeth and Susan to depart for Algoa Bay.

On the 28th September, word was sent by Shaka’s murderers, his brothers Dingane and Mhlangana, that the traders were assured of friendship and protection - and Dingane in particular had asked them not to leave.

However, the traders had seen what happened when the Zulu fought over succession, and understood the power of the regiments so they let caution eclipse valour and most sailed away on the Elizabeth and Susan on December 1st.

They returned to Port Elizabeth, but not before Dingane’s messenger arrived - both he and Mhlangana sought the support of Cape officials and with that ringing in his ears, Francis Farewell scarpered.

Meanwhile Shaka’s Bhalule imp was still away on campaign, so the abantwana wanted to avoid more conflict with the amaMpondo, the Bhaca, and other neighbours. If the colonists left, and without their powerful army, perhaps these other smaller nations would try and seize cattle or attack the outlying Zulu homesteads.

Before he was murdered, Shaka had been raising an entirely new regiment of youths called the iziNyosi the bees - and Dingane and Mhlangana added weight to this young ibutho by forming another called uHlomendlini, the Home Guard.
Dingane and Mhlangana began to circle each other like angry lions, mistrust and antagonism developing literally by the day. It had been all very well in killing Shaka, a bit like the moment Caesar was stabbed. Now what? Who is numero uno, and who isn’t?

At first, they worked in concert, sending a joint force of the uHlomendlini and iziNyosi under Mbopha’s tight command to deal with Nandi’s other son and Shaka’s half brother - Ngwadi kaNgendeyana.
It was in late November when this dispute was brought before the royal house and the nobles of the realm.

The main interrogator was Ngqengelele kaMvulana, Shaka’s protege who’d been appointed induna of the Buthelezi people. Sitting near Ngqengelele was Noncoba, Shaka’s half-sister - Nandi’s daughter.

Also present, and apparently the person who took control, was aunty Mnkabayi - Nandi’s sister. It is said by the oral storytellers that despite all these powerful men hanging about, it was Mnkabayi who really ran the show.
It must have been quite a sight on that day because Mnkabayi arrived at this most symbolic of Zulu gatherings dressed as a man.
15 Jan English South Africa History · Places & Travel

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