Zwangendaba's Migration 1818-1835

[ 1818 - 1835 ]

Zwangendaba [d. 1848, Mapupo, near Ufipa, Tanganyika [now in Tanzania]]  African king (reigned c. 1815-48) who led his Jere people on a monumental migration of more than 1,000 miles, lasting more than 20 years. A leader of incomparable stature, he brought his initially small tribe (later called the Ngoni) from its original home near modern Swaziland to the western part of present-day Tanzania, forming it into one of the most powerful kingdoms of eastern Africa.

Driven from the eastern part of southern Africa in 1818 by the Mfecane (the "Crushing," a period of Zulu wars and migrations), Zwangendaba led the Jere north in search of safety. Adopting the Zulu regimental organization that had defeated him and permitting the adoption of captives into Jere families, Zwangendaba collected an efficient and growing fighting force. In 1822 he crossed into what is now southern Mozambique. Defeated there in 1831 by other fleeing tribes, he followed the Zambezi River into what is now Zimbabwe and brought to an end the 300-year-old Changamire empire. The Zambezi was crossed in 1835, and he led his people victoriously through what is now Malawi and north of Lake Malawi to the southern end of Lake Tanganyika, where he founded a city, Mapupo. After his death the Ngoni split into five major divisions and continued their travels, occupying areas in present-day Tanzania, Malawi, and Zambia.