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Mbegha  

J. C. Winter

was the partly historical, partly legendary founder of the Kilindi royal dynasty of the Shambaa of Usambara in present-day Tanzania. He was the great-grandfather of Kimweri ye Nyumbai (c. 1815–1862), who was responsible for the expansion and consolidation of the kingdom, after which it disintegrated into an array of local chiefdoms under the strains of slave-raiding promoted by his son Semboja at Mazinde. Much of what is known about Mbegha is based on oral traditions, and historians have tried to separate historical facts from the myths contained in those oral traditions. What is indisputable historical fact is that three generations before Kimweri there was a founder of the dynasty, and most likely his name was Mbegha, which means “Colobus monkey.” Probably also historical were some of the details of his life.

Mbegha was a native of Ngululand to the southwest of Usambara which he left as a social outcast Together ...