Original Research

Chiefdoms on the margins of the Zulu Kingdom: A case study of Nzama and Ngubane chieftaincies in Kranskop, Umvoti, from the 1820s to 1870s

Siyabonga Nxumalo
New Contree | Vol 88 | a3 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.54146/newcontree/2022/88/02 | © 2022 Siyabonga Nxumalo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 December 2022 | Published: 01 July 2022

About the author(s)

Siyabonga Nxumalo, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

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The chieftaincies in Kranskop in Umvoti seized the opportunity to exercise independence from the Zulu royal family, an opportunity which the advent of British imperialism provided. These chieftaincies decided to support the invading colonial forces during the Anglo-Zulu War of January to September 1879 and participated actively in the colonial armed forces which fought the Usuthu section of the Zulu royal family during the 1880s. They also provided active military support to the Natal colonial forces during the Poll Tax uprisings of 1906. This article retraces the genesis of the dispute over the chieftainship at MaMbulu in Kranskop between the Ngubane and the Nzama families. The consolidation of the Zulu Kingdom by King Shaka does not tell the whole story because some chiefdoms maintained their own autonomy. Examples are the shift in allegiance by the Ngubane to the British side because of political conflicts, and the move away from King Shaka by the Nzama chiefdom. It will be shown that the context which made it possible for the Nzama people to come under the leadership of the Ngubane can be linked to the different relations that King Shaka kaSenzangakhona, the founder of the Zulu Kingdom, shared with the various chieftaincies on its western boundary during the 1820s.


Chiefdoms; Zulu royal family; Nzama; Ngubane; Political conflict; Shifts of allegiance


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