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Article

Maitseo Bolaane

Kgosi of the Bangwaketse, was born at Tswaaneng, southern Gangwaketse, in Botswana. The eldest son of Kgosi Gaseitsiwe’s senior wife, Bathoen I was heir to the Bangwaketse chieftaincy. His mother was of the Batlhware people. He learned to read and write at a London Missionary Society mission (LMS) school. As the son of Kgosi, he became leader of the Maisantwa regiment, initiated in 1864 (Ngcongco 1977: 277). Bathoen became chief of the Bangwaketse in July 1889 after the death of his father, Gaseitsewe. The key events of Bathoen’s life related to the growth of British colonial power in this period. In 1885 Botswana became a British protectorate. Khama of Bangwato, Bathoen of Bangwaketse, and Sebele of Bakwena were key players during the period (1890–1891 when Britain s control over Botswana developed from a vague protectorate over the southern part to a more clearly defined though still in practice ...

Article

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

Judith Imel Van Allen

mohumagadi (queen or queen-mother) successively of the Mmanaana Kgatla and BaNgwaketse (subgroups of the BaTswana in the Bechuanaland Protectorate, present-day Botswana), was born around 1845. She was also regent of the BaNgwaketse for her grandson, Bathoen II, later a prominent leader in colonial and postindependence politics. Gagoangwe was a daughter of Sechele I, king (kgosi) of the BaKwena, and his wife Mokgokong. As a child, Gagoangwe put out the eye of a servant, and her militantly Christian father, asserting both the biblical injunction of “an eye for an eye” and a certain equality among BaKwena, allowed the servant to blind his own daughter in return. She later became known as the “one-eyed queen.”

Gagoangwe first married Kgosi Pilane of the Mmanaana Kgatla, but in 1875 eloped with Bathoen I, heir to rulership (bogosi of the BaNgwaketse and later married him Gagoangwe was a devout Christian and an ...

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

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

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

Mkwawa  

Catherine Cymone Fourshey

paramount chief of the Hehe people in the southern highlands of German East Africa/Tanganyika (present-day Tanzania) from the early 1880s. His name was Mkwavinyika; it has been written many ways, including Kwawa, Kuawa, Qwawa, Mkwaba, Mkuanika, Mukwawi Nyika, Kwawinjika, and Mkuu wa Nyika.

Paternally he was descended from the Muyinga dynasty and his mother, seNgimba, was descended from chiefs of Ilole, while his grandmother was daughter of a Lugemba chief. His wife, seMusilamugunda, was related to several chiefs. His father, Munyingumba (d. 1879), formed the Hehe chiefdom between the 1860s and 1870s by conquering and unifying the clans between Iringa and Njombe into a more centralized polity. The confederation of people, spread over an 8,000–square mile area, emerged primarily as a means of defense against encroaching Ngoni regiments that spread into eastern Africa from southern Africa.

Mkwawa did not inherit the position of paramount chief from ...

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

Mpezeni  

Bizeck Jube Phiri

paramount chief of the Ngoni (in present-day Zambia), was the eldest son of Zwangendaba (Zongendaba); his mother was Nshlanze Sosera Ngumayo. It was during the migration of the Ngoni northward around 1830 that Ntutu Mpezeni was born. Ntutu Mpezeni was about nine years old when the Ngoni crossed the Zambezi River. Indunas are in agreement that he was carried across the Zambezi as was befitting of a paramount chief’s heir. Legend also has it that prior to crossing the Zambezi River, Zwangendaba had given Mpezeni a small shield and an assegai and that he had killed his first duiker buck. Zwangendaba continued his wandering until his death in 1945, after which Ntutu Mpezeni took over as leader of the Ngoni. Mpezeni led the group from Fipa country into what is now the Chipata district of Zambia.

Before leaving the land of the Bemba people Mpezeni captured Chanda Mukulu sister ...

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

coastal Gabonese leader, was the son of an Asiga clan leader living on the south bank of the Gabon Estuary. He was known to French visitors to the Gabon Estuary as Denis and to English visitors as King William. The Asiga comprised one of the leading Mpongwe Omyènè-speaking clans in the Gabon Estuary in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Rapontchombo profited greatly from the rise of slave exports from Gabon to the Portuguese colonies of São Tomé and Principe, Brazil, Cuba, and the United States after the Napoleonic wars. When the British navy began patrolling West African waters to stop the trans-Atlantic slave trade, many slave merchants turned to Gabon. With no formal European presence, it was relatively easy to acquire and smuggle slaves. As oga clan chief Rapontchombo acted as the leader of a council of officials and leading male free notables rather than an autocratic ...

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

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 ...

Article

Sina  

J. C. Winter

last precolonial mangi (king, chief) of Kibosho in western Kilimanjaro (present-day Tanzania), is remembered for having been the first Chagga mangi to challenge the German colonial authority. In 1890, having withstood the retaliatory attack of the German army under the command of Hermann von Wissmann in a two-day battle in February 1891, Sina submitted to him undefeated.

Early in the nineteenth century, Mangi Rengua of Machame had managed to break Kibosho’s domination of West Chagga, and Machame’s leading position lasted until after 1887 in Sina s period of rule Sina acceded late in life and indirectly to his mangi ship As he was a member of a junior line of the ruling dynasty the two sons of Mangi Tatuo r 1852 1862 Ngaluma r 1863 1875 and Lokila r 1875 1878 had to precede him The baby son of Lokila also had precedence and was at first ...

Article

Edna G. Bay

high official in the government of King Glele (1858–1889) of the Fon kingdom of Dahomey (located in what is now southern Benin), held the key office of Tononu, a position that is sometimes compared with that of the head wife in polygynous marriages (e.g., the woman who directed all others in the household). Reportedly the king’s favorite, Visesegan was one of thousands of the king’s wives or dependents, all of whom—women and men—were called ahosi. A woman grown wealthy through commercial activities, Visesegan played a central political role in two major internal struggles of the late nineteenth century: the question of which prince would succeed Glele, and the development of appropriate responses to French demands that led to the 1892 invasion and conquest of Dahomey.

In the late nineteenth century an estimated five thousand plus women and a much smaller number of eunuchs inhabited a series of ...