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Michael R. Mahoney

Zulu king, was born in emLambogwenya, in what is today KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa, to the future King Mpande ka Senzangakhona and his wife Ngqumbazi. In 1839, shortly after Mpande defected from his brother King Dingane’s side in the war between the Zulus and the Boers, he officially declared that Cetshwayo would be his heir, even presenting him as such at a meeting of the Boer legislature that year.

As Cetshwayo grew up, he became involved in the various intrigues in the Zulu royal house. One of the main issues in these intrigues was the relative status of Mpande’s twenty-nine wives, each of whom came from a prominent family either within the Zulu kingdom or neighboring it. It has long been customary in polygamous households in this region for the husband to name one of his wives as inkosikazi, or chief wife with her eldest son being heir ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

mbang (king) of the Chadian Baguirmi kingdom, was born in the middle of the nineteenth century. In his youth, his predecessor Ab Sakin battled numerous internal and external foes to retain his title as mbang. Bagurimi had long been dragged into disputes between its neighbors: the kingdom of Bornu to the west and the kingdom of Wadai to the east. Since the successes of Wadai’s dynamic ruler Sabun in the early nineteenth century, Wadai had treated Bagurimi as a vassal state. Ab Sakin tried to break free from Wadai, and a Wadaian army destroyed the Bagurimian capital of Massenya in 1871 in retaliation. Ab Sakin continued to fight against the Wadai and other claimants to the throne of Baguirmi. Yusuf, Sultan of Wadai, decided to impose a new king on Baguirmi more favorable to Wadai’s influence. At Ab Sakin’s death in 1884 Yusuf ensured the victory of Abdul ...

Article

Dierk Lange

ruler of the western African kingdom of Bornu (also Borno, Bornou) (c. 1487–1509), is most known for having launched two military campaigns against the Bulala in view of the reconquest of Kanem, the ancient homeland of the Sefuwa. In consequence of the destruction of the Mune shrine by Dunama Dibbalemi (1203–1242), oppositional Duguwa groups had progressively reinforced their position in Bornu’s neighbor Kanem, the central province of the Sefuwa Empire. It would seem that the Bulala had split off from the Duguwa ruling group, which strove for the restitution of the former corporate state symbolized by the Mune shrine. They reinforced their position in the region of Fitri, southeast of Kanem, until they were finally strong enough to force the Sefuwa court to abandon their ancient capi tal, Njimi, and to retreat to Bornu c. 1380 During their first period in Bornu the Sefuwa were weakened by dynastic rivalry ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

king of the Tio kingdom of the Téké people, was born at the village of Ngon, near the Gamboma River in modern Republic of the Congo. He belonged to a royal lineage since his probable grandfather, Opontaba, had been king. His kingdom engaged in several wars against Bobangui slave traders who lived north of the Malebo Pool on the Congo River in the mid-nineteenth century. The pool served as a vital meeting place for slave and ivory trading and had been controlled by Téké leaders for several centuries. Bobangui forces ultimately forced Iloo to make some concessions toward their demand for trading rights on the pool in the 1850s or 1860s. Between 1865 and 1870 Iloo was elected king by a group of powerful noble leaders The monarchy did not pass down directly from father to son among the Téké Kings were chosen by negotiations between a council of ...

Article

Maitseo Bolaane

king of the Bangwaketse in Botswana, was born in Thaba Nchu, Lesotho, on 17 August 1933, the eldest son of Kgosi Bathoen II, paramount chief of the Bangwaketse ethnic group, and Mohumagadi Ester Mafane, a princess of the Barolong boo Seleka. Between 1946 and 1949, Seepapitso started his primary education at Rachele Primary School in Kanye, headquarters of GaNgwaketse District. He was later sent to Tiger Kloof Institution in Vryburg, South Africa, to complete his primary education and continue his secondary education. Seepapitso’s parents were staunch believers in education and Congregational Christianity, and Tiger Kloof Institution in Vryburg had been established by the London Missionary Society.

In 1956 the South African apartheid government began regulating education at Tiger Kloof with the introduction of Bantu education As a result Seepapitso left Tiger Kloof for Moeding College a school in Bechuanaland Protectorate now Botswana that was modeled on the ...

Article

Phillip A Cantrell

mwami (king) of Rwanda from 1860 to 1895, was the descendant of a long line of monarchs who ruled a steadily expanding Tutsi kingdom in central Rwanda. During his thirty-five years as mwami, Kigeri (also known as Rwabugiri) received the first Europeans explorers into Rwanda and vastly enlarged the kingdom, establishing the territorial basis for the modern state. His efforts to centralize his rule resulted in the permanent subjugation of the Hutu majority and the creation of an ethnic/racial divide that haunts Rwanda down to the present.

Determined to expand the power of his throne Kigeri mobilized the populace into armed regiments to engage in wars of expansion against neighboring kingdoms in every direction even southward into present day Burundi As the kingdom grew Kigeri centralized and expanded the powers of the Tutsi monarchy Hereditary clan chiefs who in many cases were Hutu chiefs were replaced by royal ...

Article

Enocent Msindo

king of Matabele (in present-day Zimbabwe), was born in the late 1830s to Mzilikazi Matshobana Kumalo (clan name), the first Ndebele king who occupied Matabeleland of Zimbabwean in 1838, having migrated with his clan from Natal, South Africa, in the 1820s. As a child of a minor Swazi wife, Lobengula became king by chance because the would-be heir Nkulumane’s whereabouts were unknown, perhaps because he had been killed for trying to usurp power or because he had exiled himself in Natal. Therefore, when Lobengula came to power, he was initially viewed as an illegitimate successor (especially by the Zvangendaba royal faction). This background would perhaps influence his style of rule, which was a mixture of the authoritarian style of his predecessor and a more consultative approach that Ndlovu-Gatsheni (2003) controversially called the “democratic” style of governance characteristic of Ndebele settled life. Lobengula was inaugurated on 22 January 1870 ...

Article

Michael R. Mahoney

was king of the Hlubi people in southern Africa. The upheavals that plagued the area of the present-day province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa in the late 1700s and early 1800s had led to the killing of the king, Mthimkhulu, and the scattering of his people. In the early 1800s a large number of the Hlubi settled along the upper reaches of the Thukela river and attempted to reconstitute the chiefdom, naming Mthimkhulu’s son Dlomo as their king. Dlomo was himself killed at the orders of the Zulu king Dinuzulu. The Hlubi kingship then fell to Langalibalele, also known as Mthethwa. However, Langalibalele’s cousin Mini contested the throne. The resulting succession dispute was only resolved when Mini was killed by Dingane’s soldiers.

When the Boers and later the British annexed Natal in the late 1830s and early 1840s and the Thukela became the border between Natal and the Zulu kingdom ...

Article

Walima T. Kalusa

king of the Lozi people (in present-day Zambia), was born in the Bulozi plain around 1842. His father, Litiya (or Litia), was one of the numerous sons of Mulambwa, the greatest Lozi sovereign. As a boy, Lewanika, initially known as Lubosi (“the escaped one”), fled with his father from the plain to Nyengo on the western margins of the kingdom in modern Zambia. This followed intermittent bloody coups and counter-coups between two main rival factions contesting the Litungaship (kingship) many decades after the death of Lewanika’s grandfather in the 1830s. Litiya supported the faction led by his own brother Imbuwa. When Imbuwa and Litiya fell out in 1856 the latter with his son returned to the Bulozi plain to reconcile with Sekeletu the king of the Kololo who had invaded the plain in the 1830s Sekeletu killed Lewanika s father and other Lozi royals but he spared the ...

Article

Fred Morton

reigning kgosi (chief, king) of the Bakgatla baga Kgafela people from 1875 to 1920, during which the Bakgatla emerged as a major power in the western Transvaal–eastern Bechuanaland region, was born at Mmasebudule southeast of Pilanesberg, in the then–Rustenburg district, South African Republic. Linchwe was the eldest son of kgosi Kgamanyane Pilane (r. 1848–1875) and his senior wife Dikolo Ramantsana Tlou of Mabieskraal. He spent part of his childhood at his father’s new capital at Moruleng, located on Saulspoort 269, a farm owned by S. J. P. (Paul) Kruger, Rustenburg Commandant and later president of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (South African Republic, or “ZAR,” often informally known as the Transvaal Republic). Like other youth, Linchwe lived much of his time away from home at his father’s cattle posts north of the Pilanesberg. A Dutch Reformed Mission station was started at Saulspoort in 1866 but Linchwe was not allowed by ...

Article

Meli  

J. C. Winter

mangi (king), 1892–1900, of Mochi in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania (a realm that since 1919 has been known as “Old Moshi,” near the municipality of Moshi), who is mostly remembered for his victory over the German occupation forces in Kilimanjaro in June 1892 and was defeated in August 1893 by the combined German colonial forces. “Meli,” a Swahili word that translates as “steamship” or “mailboat,” was the name he took at his circumcision. He probably underwent his ngasi initiation (initiation into adulthood) in 1886 as a member of the Kiruru age set, acquiring his other name, “Kiwusa,” which means “crowd.” In the struggle for succession in 1891, at least one contending brother was murdered.

No sooner had Meli become mangi in Mocshi in late 1891 when a neighboring mangi Marealle conceived a plot to overthrow him with the aid of the new rulers of the land He arranged that an ...

Article

Chris Saunders

founder of the Basuto nation Relatively little is known of his early life though he probably acquired his name meaning the shaver from his success in capturing the cattle of his enemies Born near the upper Caledon River in what is now Lesotho Moshoeshhoe s success as a junior chief attracted to him refugees and victims of wars during the turbulent decades of the early nineteenth century and he gradually built up a sizeable following He established himself first at Buthe Buthe then at Thaba Bosiu mountain of darkness a mountaintop citadel that his enemies found impossible to capture When attacked by the Zulu he agreed to pay tribute to Shaka in return for being left alone From Thaba Bosiu he skillfully played off the British and Boers in the lands along the Caledon River from the 1830s and won the allegiance of Sotho speakers living as far west as ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

king of Rwanda, was born in that kingdom in March of 1911. His father was King Musinga Yuhi V of Rwanda. His mother was Kankazi Nyiramavugo. His father’s decision not to convert from indigenous spiritual practices to Roman Catholicism alienated missionaries and many colonial officials, who began to search for a new king to replace Musinga by the end of the 1920s.

Kankazi a skillful politician lobbied for her son to become the royal heir However the Roman Catholic bishop of Rwanda Léon Classe initially deemed Rudahigwa to be too weak and possibly a threat to Christian missions The colonial administration had a more favorable view of Rudahigwa however and made him chief of the Marangara province against Musinga s wishes Rudahigwa thus gained control over 10 000 head of cattle and soon extorted more cattle from leading Tutsi aristocrats Affluent Tutsi in Marangara despised the young prince ...

Article

Jean-Pierre Chrétien

king (mwami) of Burundi from 1915 to 1966, was born in Nyabiyogi, a royal enclosure situated in the northwest of Muramvya. He was the son of King Mutaga Mbikije, who reigned from 1908 to 1915, and Queen Ngezahayo, a Tutsi of the Banyagisaka clan. His grandfather was King Mwezi Gisabo. Second of the name in Burundian traditions, he was called Mwambutsa IV beginning in the 1930s according to a “long” chronological hypothesis from Rwandan historiography. First educated in familial aristocratic circles, between 1925 and 1929 he received primary education in a school created for him by the Belgians.

His early childhood took place under dramatic conditions. King Mutaga surprised Ngezahayo in an adulterous situation with his half-brother, Prince Bangura, in an enclosure close to Bukeye in 1915 A brawl ensued after which Mutaga and Bangura died The Germans who occupied the country at the ...

Article

Jean-Pierre Chrétien

mwami (king) of Burundi, also known as Mwezi Gisabo, was born in the royal enclosure of Mugera in the center of the country. His birth name was Bijoga. He was the son of King Ntare II Rugamba, who reigned from the beginning of the nineteenth century, and Vyano, daughter of Ndabazi (of the Benengwe Tutsi clan), the king’s last wife. In the countryside, away from European or Asian influences, his education, framed by the members of the court, was that of a young aristocrat: physical education, training in war, training in traditional moral values, and mastery of speech.

The royal succession in Burundi safeguarded by the seers who mediated between the sons of the dead king was also the fruit of rivalries among the queens the most influential often being the youngest The was the case with Vyano eleventh and last spouse of Ntare Rugamba but who had been presented ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Nsimba Ntamba, king of Kongo in what later became northwest Angola and the western coast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, was born sometime in the middle decades of the seventeenth century as a member of the royal House of Kinlaza family. Little is known of his early life. He was the elder brother of archrival João II, who also claimed the throne of the Kongo kingdom in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Pedro III’s battles for power were part of a larger series of conflicts that first emerged in the Kongo kingdom in the 1660s. After the death of the powerful king Garcia II in 1661 various members of the large royal family struggled to overcome one another Garcia II had wrested the succession on behalf of his family the House of Kinlaza from the previous dominant branch of the royal household the House of ...

Article

Brian H. Biffle

second king of the Barghwata people and self-proclaimed prophet. The Barghwata peoples of Tamasna, located on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, comprised one of several Berber communities in southern and central Morocco. These small, localized kingdoms existed among numerous independent Berber peoples who lived in prestate political communities. The Berber population was diverse and included pastoralists, peasants, and camel-herding nomads. The Berbers were known under several names, including Masmuda, Sanhaja, and Zenata. The Barghwata established their kingdom in the mid-eighth century after participating in the Kharidit insurrection of Maisara. The Barghwata remained under the rule of the descendants of Salih ibn Tarif until the middle of the eleventh century when they were conquered by the Almoravids.

Salih ibn Tarif succeeded his father Tarif ibn Shamaʾun ibn Yaʾkub ibn Ishak to become the second king of the Barghwata His reign coincided with that of the caliphate of the Ummayad Hisham ibn ...

Article

Fred Morton

kgosi (king) of the Bakwena of Bechuanaland Protectorate (Botswana) from 1892 until his death, was born into controversy. He was the son of Sechele I, kgosi of the Bakwena, and his wife-by-substitute, Selemang Kgorwe. Sechele had married Selemang’s elder sister, Kebalepile, daughter of the man Sechele had slain to achieve the kingship. After Kebalepile died while giving birth to their daughter Ope, Selemang fulfilled her role as Sechele’s wife, as was customarily done (seantlo She then gave birth to Sebele But by then many of Sechele s people regarded Mokgokgong as Sechele s great wife having been betrothed to Sechele before he married Kebalepile Moreover Mokgokgong had given birth to Sechele s first son Kgari before Sebele came along Sechele nevertheless favored Sebele and regarded him as his heir Sebele s reign was marked by internal discord ecological crises and strained relations with the protectorate administration Sebele was ...

Article

John Wright

first king of the Zulu in present day South Africa was the son of Senzangakhona kaJama d mid 1810s ruler of the Zulu chiefdom and of Nandi d 1827 daughter of Mbhengi ruler of the eLangeni chiefdom It is not clear whether he was born in his father s or his mother s chiefdom both were situated south of the middle White Mfolozi River in what is now the KwaZulu Natal Province of South Africa Shaka is one of the most famous figures in African history and one of the most mythologized Much of what has been written and told about him has little if any basis in historical evidence Usually he is presented either as a bloodthirsty tyrant or as a heroic warrior leader Only in the last twenty years drawing on newly published oral histories have historians been able to move much beyond colonial era stereotypes of this ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Tanzanian political leader was born in the early nineteenth century in the northern Tanzanian kingdom of Shambaa His father was Mnkande heir of the Shambaa king Kimweri ye Nyumbai but Mnkande died before his long lived father who controlled the Shambaa kingdom through most of the first half of the nineteenth century One of Shekulwavu s major difficulties was his relative youth in the 1850s while his grandfather grew too aged to maintain his authority over various Kilindi nobles who had traditionally obeyed Nyumbai s rule Among these were Shekulwavu s uncles including the powerful sorcerer Mshuza and the trading leader Semboja Nyumbai installed Shekulwavu as his regent sometime in the late 1850s which displeased the Kilindi elite Shekulwavu could thus claim he was the legitimate successor to his enfeebled grandfather Eventually Shekulwavu was able to exert some authority at least in the capital of Vugha He also collected fines ...