Thursday, August 4, 2011


Ndebele Amabutho or Ndebele Military Structure

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  • The Evolution of Ndebele Amabutho
    Author: Julian Cobbing
    Source: The Journal of African History, Vol. 15, No. 4 (1974), pp. 607-631
    Published by: Cambridge University Press

    IT has become a well-established cliche to say that the Zulu state and its Nguni off-shoots, such as the Ndebele of Mzilikazi and his son, Lobengula, were 'military states', and that at the root of their social and political organizations lay the 'regimental system'. It comes therefore as a surprise to discover that rarely, if at all, has the 'regimental system' of an Nguni state been examined in detail. Barnes, for example, in his study of the Fort Jameson Ngoni, describes 'regiments' as military age-sets which are peripheral to the main political structure of the Ngoni state. As with the Ndebele, regimental age-sets cut across the 'segmentary' structure of Ngoni society; yet one is not told what happened to the 'regiments' when they grew collectively older, nor whether they made any lasting impact upon the political and residential structure of the state.2 Similarly in Zulu historiography there is no adequate manual of how the Zulu 'regimental system' worked. Judging from many existing accounts, indeed, Zulu society was unworkable.3

    The same is true for the Rhodesian Ndebele who crossed the Drakensberg into the country north of the Vaal River in about 1822 and passed on northwards into modern Matabeleland (western Rhodesia) between 1837 and 184I. The student fresh to the subject of the Ndebele finds himself informed that the Ndebele state in the Matopos region was highly centralized and consisted of a royal capital surrounded by a relatively small
    number of 'regimental' towns, each with a population of at least one thousand people and often much more.4 They were 'colossal strongholds' with a purely military raison d'etre.5 Each was 'commanded' by a chief(induna) who was 'appointed' by the king and who was an 'official' rather than the representative of an important local lineage.6 'Regiments' were grouped into four 'divisions', each with its superior commander.7 At this and every other point in the state hierarchy, the political function was overlaid by the military one, so that state and army were inseparable. The kingdom expanded via the creation of new regiments formed every so often to absorb a new generation of youths, to which were added captives taken in the annual raids upon adjacent Shona tribes. Settlement was thus everywhere uniform, the whole one 'warlike aggregation [rather] than a cultural unit'.8 Early descriptions, especially, were invariably accompanied by generalizations about the sanguinary nature of the state and of its militaristic objectives.9

    This picture at first seems plausible. But one soon discovers that it departs in essentials from the historical evidence available. For example, the majority of Ndebele settlements in the pre-colonial era were smallscale, probably averaging from about fifty to two hundred people. Villages were collected together into clusters10 and the outlying political unit of the state was not the 'regimental' town, but the partially decentralized chieftaincy or isigaba (lit: sub-division), which contained several villages. One family supplied a succession of chiefs within an isigaba according to strict laws of patrilineality, which even the king was rarely able to disturb.11 The emergence of the isigaba was inseparably linked with the formation of 'regiments'. It is hoped that the following account illustrates the simplicity of this development whilst accommodating the main historical facts.

    Ndebele Settlement 19th Century

    The Evolution of the Typical Ibutho

    Ndebele settlements not only moved physically from time to time, but were simultaneously in a state of evolution. This can best be understood by comparing the concepts of the umusi (pl. imisi: kraal, village) with that of the ibutho (pl. amabutho: 'regiment'). An umusi was a residential unit containing families of men, women and children, and was essentially concerned with non-military activities, whereas an ibutho was a concept with a specifically military and masculine sense. Generically, the term ibutho meant men gathered together for martial functions; but it was used to designate three different, though related ideas. In the first place it was a theoretical concept defining men from a given group of imisi, who, if called out for military duty, would be called out together. This reflected a relationship between men from imisi which usually had a common origin or geographical location, or both. An ibutho was, secondly, an actual squad of men assembled from the adult male inhabitants of imisi, to which they returned when the specific operation was completed. The Ndebele army was thus essentially temporary and melted away after combat. Thirdly, an ibutho was young men (amajaha) grouped together (ababebuthwa) in separate and temporary settlements of varying sizes for both offensive and defensive fighting purposes. Only in this last sense did ibutho approximate
    to the British idea of regiment, but the differences in concept are so enormous as to make the translation misleading. The thing to note, however, is that imisi-the normal residential units of the Ndebele kingdom- were not purely military formations as in the third sense of the word ibutho. An umusi only had a military function in so far as its menfolk were potential soldiers. But in this respect the Ndebele did not differ from their neighbours such as the Shona and the Tswana.

    Hughes and Omer-Cooper have already suggested that an ibutho in the third sense could transform itself over a number of years into an umusi, or, more probably, a cluster of imisi.12 In doing so the character of the settlement underwent a metamorphosis, and its purely military function evanesced. The military potential of the kingdom would come to reside in newly-created amabutho, into which the children of existing imisi might be drafted. This process explains, firstly, the perpetuation of settlements over several generations (age-set units disappear); and, secondly, the internal settlement proliferation of the state. Only in the most general sense was it a form of segmentation.13 It is better described as a process of unplanned internal self-regeneration, at once both politically and militarily expedient, which reversed any tendency towards in-breeding of close kin: a tendency already emphasized by the ban on marriage between people of the same isibongo (praise-name). The process, finally, led to the social advancement of brave warriors (abaqawe) and the permanent elevation of new aristocratic families.14

    This process of settlement evolution is pivotal to an understanding of the structure of the Ndebele state, and so warrants a more detailed analysis. The Ndebele youth was brought up to be cattle-herder, hunter and soldier functions which were obviously linked. Depending on his promise, but usually at about the age of ten, the Ndebele child would begin to help in the herding of his father's cattle. He would follow the cattle into the winter veldt, mix with his elders and learn the rigours of life.15 At puberty, an initiation ceremony, the tomba, was performed: a medicine called izembe was burnt, blown into the boy's mouth through a reed, and official adulthood was reached.16 The youth would not however make the next transition, that of entry into an ibutho, until he had had full sexual experience, for otherwise the protective medicines (intelezi) of the izanusi(doctors) would not work.17

    The raising of amabutho in the Ndebele state was an irregular occurrence, depending firstly on the particular political or fighting requirements of the moment, and secondly on the availability of sufficient numbers of adult males. The examples which follow are taken from the raising of Imbizo, Insuga and Umcijo. Imbizo was raised during the civil war crisis between i870 and I872, the first two years of Lobengula's reign, and only two years after Mzilikazi had raised Inqobo. The raising of Insuga which followed in c. I883, a gap of about twelve years, was more clearly connected with the availability of recruits, but was also probably linked with the wars against the Tawana of I883-5. And the drafting of Umcijo and another ibutho, the Ihlati, in I890 followed by only approximately two years the raising of Isiziba. This outburst of ibutho-raising was almost solely the result of the European invasion of Mashonaland.

    Ntabeni Khumalo, giving us our first example, was born at Dukadeni in the western Malungwane and in I87I was put into Imbizo.18 The recruits trained at the Nkantor Mountain in the central Matopos for two years before establishing a settlement on the Koce River.

    We first went by ourselves and built the kraal, and then our mothers came. We cooked our own food whilst we built the kraal, and when our mothers came they cooked for us. Our sisters also came. Our fathers stayed behind. Some younger women stayed behind to look after our fathers.19

    And a contemporary observer, Thomas Baines, wrote in August 1871,
    giving a different emphasis:

    The king is forming a new regiment called La Besa or 'the called'. They are lads of 10 to 18 years of age . . . all removed from their mammas and other softening influences, that they may grow up as hardy and daring as possible. He sent them out twice to hunt.20

    Ginyalitshe Hlabangana told a similar story of being drafted into Insuga in the mid-1880s.21 Ginyalitshe was born at Amangubeni (Inqobo), which was near Inyati, and for many years he herded cattle there for his father, Sigozwana. After Sigozwana's death he went to stay at the umusi zamathanga (private village) of his grandfather, Dlamlomo, which was not far from Inqobo. One day Lobengula's messenger came to Inqobo, and the induna sent round the imisi under his control and collected a group of youths amongst whom was Ginyalitshe. They went to Bulawayo, were, with others, collectively named Insuga ('those who depart in the day') and sent to the upper Nata River. 'Today', Lobengula informed them, underlining their rise to independence and maturity, 'you leave your fathers and you have your own kraal'. They stayed in the west of the kingdom for about six years before being transferred to the upper Gwelo in 1890.

    Ndansi Khumalo, lastly, tells of being drafted into Umcijo.22

    We spent about a month singing and dancing near the King's kraal; he used to give us lots of food and we were well looked after. We brought our own outfit, our skins and shields. Our parents provided our spears.

    During their stay at Bulawayo the recruits bathed in a specially treated pool in the Umgusa River to counteract any evil which might level itself against them. They were then sent to the Shangani River to guard the king's cattle. Each pair of amajaha (unmarried soldiers) built cattle shelters and looked after from five to ten head, having the use of the milk. They learnt to fight, and were posted to the Gwelo River in March i892.23

    A newly-formed ibutho, consisting of young soldiers-to-be under the leadership of a mature warrior, would be 'butha'd' in a particular isigaba (induna's area), sometimes moving from isigaba to isigaba for particular purposes. Dr Smith noted that 'they then only take their war-dresses and implements. The karosses they leave behind them saying that the people of the kraal whither they go must find them in karosses'.24 They had an internal law-and-order function; and the local induna could call upon the amajaha to make themselves useful around the king's villages, cutting poles and grass for huts or being utilized for building and repair works.25 Moving around continually, the amajaha would erect temporary grass 'loobas' or shelters at night, with special lodging for any attendant women.26 An ibutho would usually divide into a number of encampments or groups termed isigatshana, each training and hunting under a separate leader.27 As time went by, a young ibutho would be mixed with maturer forces for raiding experience. After a few years it would become an elite group of soldiers, who enshrined in themselves the major military potential of the state.

    Although it was not uncommon for men who were already married to be drafted into an ibutho,28 the decisive stage in its evolution into a number of settled imisi occurred when the amajaha were officially encouraged to marry, between five and ten years after formation. During this period the ibutho remained closely connected with the imisi which had supplied its recruits, irrespective of where it was posted. Ginyalitshe even emphasized: 'I continued to live at Dlamlomo's kraal after I became a member of the Insuga regiment. The king did not separate the young men from their homes'; and, 'it did not mean that we could not go back and live with our fathers if we wanted to. It was not a prohibition.'29 Ginyalitshe seems here to be referring to periodical visits home, which most frequently took place during the summer months, the time of planting and of the rains. Thomas Morgan Thomas mentions on one occasion how 'the impiso [Imbizo] are scattered here and there visiting among their friends',30 a form of regular 'home-leave' called umusi wamaxhegu.31 During these constant contacts, a young man would perhaps take a sister, or even one of his father's wives, back to the ibutho. Love-making between the amajaha and the attendant females was a normal and condoned practice, and if pregnancies resulted, marriages were arranged. The rate of marriage would accelerate when the warriors were in their late twenties or early thirties, at this stage with the specific approval of the king.

    Although Maund wrote in i885 that Lobengula 'has just permitted a military kraal to marry, because several hundred girls in it were reported to be in an interesting condition',32 it need not be thought that some huge marriage ceremony or a large number of simultaneous marriages took place.33 Marriages occurred over an extended period of time; and each was a matter for the families of the couple concerned. A man would leave his ibutho and return to his father's umusi for the ceremonies (bavulelwe). Ntabeni Khumalo at Imbizo recalled how 'when my wife came to me I paid lobolo: three beasts, two cows and an ox, to her father. We killed an ox for the occasion'.34 The bride would come with her attendants to her future father-in-law's umusi in a procession called the umtimba, after which dancing and feasting lasted several days. Shortly after his marriage Ntabeni returned to Imbizo and his wife remained at his father's umusi of Dukada. Later it is probable that his wife moved to Imbizo; and here they would settle as a family where the children would grow up. Women might even go to an ibutho in search of marriage. The induna Geletu remembered how a girl called Nhlombi had left his umusi to go and marry a man in Imbizo, the girl's relations moving with her.35 On another occasion the daughter of Jozana of Mbambanjeni ran away to her sweetheart, Simila, at Imbizo, after she had first been betrothed against her will to Labalala of Nxa.36

    Although a percentage of wives would remain at the imisi of their fathers-in-law, the presence of favourite wives and their children would make the main centre of the ibutho static, and it would gradually transform itself into a main umusi with a number of smaller linked imisi. At an interim stage of development the settlement would still have some of the characteristics of an ibutho. The transition towards a greater demilitarization could be slowed, for example, by the drafting of new recruits, and even by the military training of the children of the first warriors. The first generation of children to grow up in the Imbizo imisi were collectively nick-named Litshelentaba ('stones off a mountain'); and by the early 1890s Imbizo-Litshelentaba, strengthened by new drafts from other imisi, was itself an ibutho. The children of later recruits were known as Imbizo-Nembe ('porridge for children'), but they were still too young for military service at the time of the collapse of the Ndebele state in the mid-1890s.37 Nevertheless, in spite of this generation of new military talent, Imbizweni became more static. Some of the older men returned to their original imisi, whilst others who had acquired cattle in warfare or otherwise distinguished themselves, established their imisi zamathanga in the vicinity of the main umusi.38 The original ibutho had become a new isigaba or chieftaincy.

    How long it took for a full transition of loyalties to the new imisi to be made is difficult to judge. Imbizo for example was not sufficiently detached from its root imisi to be able to perpetuate itself into the period of the European conquest. After the burning down of the Imbizo main kraal in 1894 its people preferred to return home, and Imbizo became merely the umusi of its chief, Mjaan Khumalo.39 Amabutho formed later, such as Insuga, Isiziba and Ihlati, also disappeared in the period after I894. But Induba and Mhlahlanhlela (formed in the early i86os) and Inqobo (late i86os) did perpetuate themselves into the twentieth century as groupings with which Ndebele identify themselves today, even if far removed from the nineteenth-century sites. Examples of fully matured imisi which exist as concepts providing group identity today are: Ndinana (descendants living in the Lundi Tribal Trustland under chief Jobe Matshazi, of the main nineteenth-century line); Intunta (descendants either living near the old site of Intunta at Bushtick in the Essexvale district, or along the Lundi River in the Belingwe Tribal Trustland under chief Ngungumbane Mkwananzi of the main nineteenth-century line); and Nqama (descendants living under the traditional line of Mathema chiefs in Wenlock Tribal Trustland). All these, and others such as Ujinga, Matshetshe and Godhlwayo, are imisi which had become established by the I85os and sometimes before the migration of Mzilikazi northwards across the Limpopo in the late I830s. A minimum period for the establishment of group-identity into the era after the conquest is thus c. twenty-five years of independent existence before I893, although under less violent circumstances it would probably have been less.

    How then did pre-existing imisi survive intact over several generations in the face of the periodic creation of new amabutho? Why did settlements not mature, age and die? The answer is that the perpetuation of settlements was ensured since only a percentage of young men in a given age group would go to form a new ibutho and many less fortunate youngsters would remain behind.40 Some would not be given the chance to enter, especially if there was a lengthy time-lag between two drafts. There were also exemptions, one informant for example mentioning that an only son would not be 'butha'd'. Other informants emphasized the permanent return of men from the ibutho to their fathers' villages, and their replacement by young men in a fresh draft. This exit from an ibutho occurred especially with men who had a political function to play in the imisi of origin, such as sons of chiefs. Thus Hliso Mkwananzi of Intunta was drafted into Induba in the i86os, but by the i88os he was back at Intunta, having assumed the chieftaincy in succession to his father, Mahubohubo.41 Also, according to Nqagwana Khumalo: 'When an old man died his eldest son would be withdrawn from his regiment so that he could look after his father's village and property.'42 Yet the reverse move could take place. When parents of a 'butha'd' son grew old, they could ask their induna to be allowed to move their home to where the son was living.43 But irrespective of whether an eldest son remained in his 'ibutho-umusi' or returned to his father's umusi following his father's death, he would inherit his father's property such as cattle.44 In this way the rise and maturation of amabutho did not break across the hereditary aspects of family life, and the functioning of existing settlements was only partially disrupted. If major imisi disappeared, it was not usually a result of a failure to regenerate, but because of deliberate dispersal for political reasons, as with Gibixegu in c. I84I-2 and Zwangendaba in I870.45

    Since it is possible to date the sequence of creation of amabutho approximately, it is also possible to estimate the age or generation of informants or their ancestors if one knows the ibutho into which they were drafted. Mapunda Msiza, for example, was drafted into Iliba probably in the early I840s. His son, Sonjobo, was born at Iliba, but subsequently in the I870s was put into Imbizo; and Sonjobo's sons, Mpuqa, Matete and Mguqu, were born at Imbizo in the 1880s.46 Another example is that of Sikwebu Ncube, who was born at Iliba and drafted into Induba in the i86os. His daughter, Magoli, was born at Induba, and in the I870S went to marry Mukontshwana Tjili, a young Sotho who had gone into Mbuyaswe in about I869.41

    In general, someone born into Iliba (formed probably in the I840s), is older than someone born into Inqobo or Imbizo (I867-77I).48 One can detect the relative age of brothers in the same way. For example, Bozongwana Khumalo's (presumably) eldest son, Gabeni, went into Imbizo, whilst his three younger sons, Mukenke, Mqhewa and Ntabeni went into Insuga.49 Finally, men of older-established imisi such as Godhlwayo would, over the generations, be present in virtually all newly-created amabutho.50 Theoretically, then, settlements evolved, and at any given moment in the last three-quarters of the nineteenth century settlements of different composition and 'stage' existed side by side. This assumption is largely derived from informants who, whilst themselves not able to explain the evolution, were nevertheless agreed that there was a generic difference between imisi (established since time immemorial) and amabutho (time of establishment remembered, if only vaguely). Tito Matshazi and Ntolwana Dhlodhlo, two particularly knowledgeable female informants, drew up the following lists51:

    I. Imisi                                 2. Amabutho                                Approx. dateof formation
    Godhlwayo                             Mahlokohloko                                   1849-50
    Ndinana                                   Induba                                              1862-4
    Mzinyatini                                Mhlahlanhlela                                     1863
    Matshetshe                              Inqobo                                               1867-9
    Nqama (etc.)                           Imbizo                                                1871
    (all in existence by                    Insuga                                                1883-4
    the early I840s)                        Isiziba                                                1887-8
                                                   Umcijo                                                1890
                                                    Ihlati                                                   1890

    Finally, with the help especially of Mpuqa Msiza and Zimu Moyo, the following diagrammatical representation of settlement evolution was established in the sand of several villages52:

    Diagrammatical Presentation of Ndebele settlement evolution
    The Historiography of the 'Division' or 'Province'

    Besides imisi and amabutho, several key writers on the Ndebele have described the 'division' or 'province'. There is, however, no Ndebele word for such a concept, and modern informants deny that they existed.53 Because of this conflict, a re-examination of the historiography of the European idea of the 'division-province' is necessary. The relevance to the argument will become clear in the next section.

    The first hint of something higher than the induna in the Ndebele political hierarchy came from Andrew Smith, who divided Mzilikazi's chiefs into two grades: the numzan (umnumzana) and the tuna (induna), the former, according to Smith, being the senior. Smith went on to isolate certain 'big' chiefs (Kalipi, Gwabalanda, Mpondo and Mncumbata) who, he implied, held authority over large portions of Mzilikazi's territory.54 The missionary, Thomas, was more explicit:

    The king divided the land into several provinces, these again were divided into smaller districts, and the districts into towns. Over each province, a very loyal subject was appointed to represent the sovereign.... This officer was called the induna enkulu (great under chief), and was next in rank to the king.55

    Most writers have cited Thomas to show firstly, that the province existed as a formal administrative sub-division of the kingdom, and secondly that there was a hierarchy of appointment with an induna enkulu being an official senior in rank to an induna, the former ruling the 'province', and the latter the 'district'. But both Smith's and Thomas's terms were applied inexactly. Smith's umnumzana was simply the head of an umusi, even though it was a title of respect. If anything, the umnumzana was inferior to the induna, although one man could be both.56 Similarly the induna enkulu was just an important chief. This carried implications of power and prestige, but not of officially appointed rank.

    In 1885 Maund (who had read Thomas) added a military meaning to both province, which became 'division', and induna enkulu, who became primarily a military figure. It is a military framework from which Ndebele historiography has never escaped.57 'The country', wrote Maund, 'is divided into four divisions [Amabuto, Amagapa, Imhlope and Likanda], which really constitute the four great territorial divisions of the army'. Each division embraced a number of kraals, some of which were regimental headquarters headed by 'indunas, or officers of regiment in the field'. The system was not only purely military but highly centralized, as a glance at Maund's illustrative diagram shows:

    Ndebele Hierarchy
    And to underline the organizational interlocking of army and state, Maund added:

    When an impi goes out it is in two divisions under two Indunas acting under a selected general. They march in columns. One from each territorial division and another consisting of the king's men, i.e. Embezu [Imbizo] and his own town [Bulawayo].

    Apart from the general meaninglessness of the diagram, and the improbability of such a precise army organization, the important things to note are that Maund was a soldier who at this point had known the Ndebele for a fortnight, who came from the England of the generation of the Cardwell army reforms, and believed that militarily the Ndebele were 'similar to the Zulus', whose own degree of militarization was being vastly exaggerated during the Zulu war of I879. There is in fact no evidence to support Maund's theories as to Ndebele military divisions. Yet his analysis of the Ndebele became gospel, and has done more to influence Ndebele studies than any other piece of writing. For example, in 1898 the Matabeleland

    Administrator, Captain Lawley, informed the assembled Ndebele izinduna about Maund rather than about themselves. 'As you know', he said, 'in the days of Lobengula there were five divisions which were each governed by five [sic] chiefs'.58 By 1919 Posselt had 'confirmed' the idea of the province as a division. Each head of division was now a 'divisional commander', and each division was divided into 'regiments' just like the British army.59

    The army analogy developed alarmingly after the Second World War. In a celebrated article the archaeologist Roger Summers elaborated on Maund's diagram, which now looked like this60:

    Ndebele Hierarchy
    Maund's influence is plain, although the degree of militarization has increased. The king is now commander-in-chief; there is a commander at 'H.Q. Kraal' (presumably Bulawayo); and now there is a 'Great Council' (the isikulu) to advise the king. In the context it can only be a military council. Otherwise Summers's diagram is as unworkable and as detached from any evidence as is Maund's. In their publication, The Warriors, in 1970, Summers and Pagden threw all reservations aside and described the Ndebele kingdom in purely military terms. It consisted of regimental components of an army inseparable from the state.62

    The anthropologist Hughes, although a collaborator of Summers, was more cautious. He renounced the term 'division' in favour of 'province' again; and whilst believing that the provinces were territorial entities with clearly demarcated boundaries, recognized that 'in one sense provinces were primarily divisions of the people not of territory'.63 And, the first writer to hint that provinces were not administrative sub-divisions of the state, but rather evolutionary antecedents of the later nineteenth-century imisi, Hughes noted that 'the four provinces formed administrative segments of the nation, and . . . the regiments formed by Lobengula comprised another segment of the same order of segmentation'.64 Nevertheless, the imisi were for Hughes still essentially military units; and although he thought that because of the administrative aspects of their function 'there might seem to be a good case for adopting some English term other than "regiment" to describe them [amabutho]', he did not do so on the ground that 'it would create unnecessary confusion to adopt another translation of this Ndebele word [ibutho] here'.65 And so the influence of the nineteenthcentury commentators still holds the field.

    The original Amabutho and the development of settlement under Mzilikazi

    This persistent historiographical 'militarization' of the structure of Ndebele society has obscured the true origin and structure of the 'province'. Present-day informants deny the existence of military or administrative divisions larger than the isigaba, or single chieftaincy, and register incomprehension when the English ideas of 'division', as used by Maund, or of 'province', as used by Thomas, are explained to them. Yet they are well-acquainted with the concepts of Amakanda, Amhlope, Amnyama (for Maund's Amabuto) and Igapha.66 A man from Nxa will, for example, use Nxa and Amakanda interchangeably, even though Amakanda refers hazily to a general area rather than to a specific point on the map. Another man will identify Nyamandhlovu with Igapha in the same way. What is the separation of the umusi Nxa from the larger but less precise concept of Amakanda? The answer is, as Ntabeni Khumalo pointed out to a surprised Windram (he had been looking for military divisions), that:

    There were no groupings of the regiments under main divisions.... All the later regiments came from the original regiments, the Amhlope, Amakanda, the Amnyama and Igapha.... Although they had their own regiments, the later people used to regard themselves as the descendants of one or other of the older regiments. 67

    The slender historical evidence that exists confirms that the 'divisions' were indeed early amabutho which later 'spawned' fresh amabutho, and in the process themselves disappeared. The initial close links between amabutho spawned in this way were increased by their future geographical proximity in the Matopos region. By the mid-nineteenth century however, the original proto-amabutho were becoming memories, and there had been a fusing of the various descent groups. The attempt to place all the later amabutho into neat lists according to 'division' is a reflection of the historian's mania for tidiness, and of the influence of Maund.68

    Literature and tradition combine to produce the following chronology. Mzilikazi left Tshaka's country in the early 1825 with a small body of men divided into two major groups, Amakanda and Amhlope.69 By the late I820s Amakanda had sub-divided into smaller groups, among which were Nxa and Ndinana, and Amhlope had given rise for example to Isizinda, Magolosa and Dibinhlangu. These became the nuclei for the assimilation of Sotho peoples as the Ndebele passed through what is now the Transvaal. By the I830S other break-offs, new accretions or family groupings had emerged, among which were Insinda, Insinga, Nzwananzi
    and Dhlodhlo, identifying themselves with Amakanda; and others such as Mfakuceba and Ntembusa associated with Amhlope.0

    The third of the proto-amabutho was Amnyama (the black-haired ones, i.e. young men), who were regarded as the 'sons' of Amakanda-Amhlope.7 Mzilikazi was reputed to have formed Amnyama just before his quarrel with Tshaka; and we know of leaders of later Amnyama-identified imisi, such as Mahubohubo of Intunta and Dambisamahubo of Godhlwayo, who earned for themselves reputations as abaqawe in the stormy period of Mzilikazi's break-away.72 In the early I83os Amnyama gave rise probably first to Mzinyati, and a little later to Eyengo, Dukada, Matshetshe, Godhlwayo, Nkenenkene and Isiphezi.73 Several of the Amnyama and Amakanda settlements broke away from Mzilikazi after the Boer attack on Egabeni towards the end of I837, and, led by Gundwane Ndiweni and Majijili Gwebu, migrated across the Limpopo to the Malungwane Hills


    Chronology of major Ndebele Amabutho
    in what is now Rhodesia. Amnyama-connected imisi settled to the west of the Malungwane range along the valleys of the Ncema and upper Umzingwani, and Amakanda further to the east along the upper Insiza. Gundwane established a new capital at Gibixegu on the Umzingwani; but this was destroyed by Mzilikazi when he arrived from the Zambezi in c. 1841.

    The fourth proto-ibutho was Igapha, the name coming from Mzilikazi's I835-7 capital of Egabeni, and its recruits from the Amakanda-Amhlope- Amnyama group already in existence.75 Igapha and several connected with Amhlope, such as Isizinda and Magolosa, followed Mzilikazi to the upper Nata and Gwaai valleys, after a migration taking them through Ngwato country to the lower Chobe and south again.76 North of the Matopos Igapha disintegrated into the off-shoot settlements of Amagogo, Nqama and Nyamandhlovu,77 groupings which probably bore the brunt of the fighting against Gundwane's Amakanda-Amnyama in the civil war of c. I842. Amhlope imisi tended to site themselves immediately to the north of the Matopos, whereas imisi descended from Igapha subsequently came to function as a defensive cordon reaching from the northern Matopos through the upper Gwaai, Khami and Umgusa Rivers to the Bembesi and Shangani in an umbrella-handle shaped crescent. Later the term Igapha (or Amagapha) referred to the collective idea of men from Igapha-descended imisi. It developed south-western and north-eastern facets, so that Ndebele spoke of the imisi of 'Igapha towards the Matopos' as Likamagqegenya or Linkgcweli, and of the imisi of 'Igapha towards Que Que' as Lamasandhla. Lamasandhla was in particular used to describe the artificial extension of Ndebele settlement to the Gwelo and Ingwenya Rivers at the time of the European occupation.78

    Settlement now evolved in the Matopos region along the lines already suggested, but without precise reference to the proto-amabutho. Zwangendaba, Mbambanjeni, Ujinga, Iliba, Ilanga, Babamba and Hlambabaloi probably emerged in the I840s along the upper Umgusa and upper Bembesi valleys. In about I849-50 Mzilikazi established another ibutho on the watershed between the Bembesi and Umgusa called Mahlokohloko. This was both royal capital and the major ibutho of the 1850s, much as Igapha had been during the mid-i83os. By the end of the 1850s, however, Mzilikazi had moved again, this time about twenty miles to the north-east, where Inyati was formed on the Inkwegwesi.79 Induba was formed at some time during the early i86os, and Mhlahlanhlela-successor to Inyati as royal capital-in I863, possibly as a result of the Ndebele-Ngwato war of that year. Either in the 1850S or early 1860s Intemba was drafted under the leadership of Xukutwayo Mlotshwa, and sent to the extreme northeast of the kingdom between Inyati and the Mambo Hills.80

    Lobengula's Amabutho

    Lobengula raised, or began to raise, about a dozen new amabutho, concerning which there is happily a little more evidence. Inqobo ('the blanket') was raised at about the time of Mzilikazi's death in i868,81 and during the early part of I87I was moved to the Inkwegwesi River near Emhlangeni, replacing the more mature amabutho of Inyati and Intemba as the kingdom's most northerly outpost.82 Inqobo became a number of imisi under the leadership of Mazwi Gumede and Mtini Mpoko Ndhlovu. In I89I or early I892 a contingent from Inqobo was positioned on the Gwelo River to help defend the Ndebele kingdom from anticipated European incursions. Mazwi assumed authority over Rozvi groups on the watershed between the Gwelo and Lundi Rivers such as Lozani and Gambiza, both of whom went to him for land.83 Generally, Inqobo usurped
    the position of Mbambanjeni, which, during the time of Mncumbata Khumalo, had for a time been sited along the upper Gwelo. In 1866 Mbambanjeni had moved south-west to the headwaters of the Shangani, but in 1892, nfow under Mncumbata's son, Mhlabi, was destroyed for political reasons.84

    By far the most prestigious of Lobengula's amabutho was Imbizo, something of whose social evolution we have already examined. Its formation in I87I was a result of Lobengula's fears of an invasion by those Ndebele supporting 'Nkulumane' and Mangwane, his rivals for the kingship.85 Its first leader, according to Mahlangu, was Habimane Mthimkulu, but later Lobengula's second-cousin Mjaan Khumalo assumed control.86 In about June I87I Imbizo was probably involved in an attack upon a force of Macheng's Ngwato near the Tati River; and later that year participated in raids against the Karanga of Zimundu and Sibanda in the present Fort Victoria region. The cattle captured during these raids were given to Imbizo, which soon afterwards moved to the Koce River for better grazing, and perhaps to stand between Bulawayo, the new royal capital, and the still disaffected north-east.87

    A whole generation of scions of important families was drafted into Imbizo during the first years of its formation.88 Imbizo took part in most of the major campaigns of the I870s, including the prolonged siege of Chivi's stronghold in October i879.89 It had the reputation of being particularly fearsome, and came in the end to challenge even Lobengula's authority. In about I874 men from Imbizo were attacked by a band from Godhlwayo in the storm created by the execution of the Godhlwayo chief, Mtikana Mafu.90 A decade later, in July I885, there was a symbolic battle of the generations between Imbizo and Mhlahlanhlela over the ownership of a captive (ifuyiweyo), in which about twenty men were killed or wounded.91 In October I890 J. S. Moffat wrote: 'the induna of Imbizo [Mjaan] is in trouble with his men, they want to get rid of him, he does not suit them.'92 Mjaan supported Lobengula's militarily unaggressive policy towards the British South Africa Company, whose forces had occupied Mashonaland without the king's permission. His men however
    were more extreme, and made the lives of local whites a misery in an endeavour to bring about a military collision.93

    Lobengula's next major ibutho was Insuga, which was formed in about 1883 during the time of the Tawana wars under the leadership of Manondwaan Tshabalala, and which had close connexions with the Inqobo- Ujinga complex of villages along the Inkwegwesi valley. Predictably, men of younger average age went into Insuga than had gone into Imbizo, and these included Nyamanda, Lobengula's second son and heir. One of Insuga's abalisa (headmen) was Sepalo Ndiweni; and the leader of one of its izigatshana, of which there were at least three, was Siatcha, the son of Matilingwane.4 In May I890 Insuga was transferred from the Nata River to the upper Gwelo as a result of the crisis caused by the entry of the pioneer column into Mashonaland.95 In I89I or I892 a body of men was detached from the main ibutho forming a sub-ibutho called Insizwa which had a separate umusi.96 Like Imbizo, Insuga was impatient to anticipate what was regarded as the inevitable attack from the Europeans in Mashonaland. Men from Insuga sang treasonable songs at the nxwala of 1892,97 and later that year they quarrelled over cattle with the Nxa people (upper Shangani), producing tensions which, White suggests, helped lead to their precipitate actions at Fort Victoria in July i893.98 Although many of warriors had married by I893, most of the families stayed behind in their home imisi in the troubled period preceding the war of I893. Having no roots, Insuga therefore disintegrated in the period after I894, and Manondwaan led a somewhat lone fight in the Gwelo region in the Rising of 1896. 99

    Isiziba ('still waters in a river') was formed in about 1887,100 and its sub-chiefs were Nhlapo, and an unmarried son of Qaqa Ndiweni, leader of the Kwesincinyane isigatshana of Mhlahlanhlela.101 In I890 it was moved east to the Shangani River, after which it came under the overall command of the Insuga chief, Manondwaan Tshabalala. Isiziba participated in the raid on Nemakonde in September I89I, the July I892 raid on Chivi and the Shangani battle of October I893, following which it dissolved.102

    Ihlati ('a forest of short bush'), referred to by Mahlangu as an isigatshana of Mhlahlanhlela, was raised during the crisis of May-June i89o, an event to which Colenbrander was probably alluding when he wrote:

    'Lobengula is raising a new regiment consisting of two hundred to three hundred young men just returned from the diamond fields armed with Martini- Henry rifles which they have earned there.'103 Initially Ihlati appears to have trained under Somfulu Fuyane in the Nyamandhlovu area; but later it was mixed with Insuga and sent to the Ingwenya River under Matshe, the eldest son of Gambo Sithole.104 Matshe's brother, and Gambo's eventual successor, Dlomo, was in Ihlati, as also was Nyamanda's younger brother, Tshakalisa, who was about seventeen years old in i892.105 At about the same time, Umcijo ('a sharp end' as of a spear) was being raised in the Emhlangeni vicinity under Mlumbi.106 In March I892 Lobengula moved Umcijo to the Gwelo River, about twenty miles to the north-west of Ihlati, where it formed the extreme left-wing of the Ndebele defensive cordon.107

    There are, lastly, occasional references to other of Lobengula's amabutho, though whether they were ever military settlements proper, or were simply villages of mainly non-Ndebele assimilants, is uncertain. One was
    Amazibalongwe, also known as Edutjwa, which contained Kalanga and was led by Manyeu Ndiweni of Mhlahlanhlela. It was positioned somewhere on the Nata River, and, according to Posselt, took part in the attack on the Tawana in 1885.108 Others were Ngwangwa under Ngogode Thebe; Nkanyezi, on the Umgusa River not far from Imbizo, under Rubane Ngwenya (whom Posselt described as 'a Bechuana nobleman, who had tendered his allegiance to the king, and was thus rewarded with the royal confidence'); and Makupekupe, a predominantly Rozvi group in the eastern Malungwane which the king was reputed to have been organizing just before the war of i893.109 There was also a personal bodyguard of the king known as the Imbovane, 'the king's black ants', as Vaughan-Williams called them. These 'slave youngsters slept outside the king's stockade with the dogs' and attended the king wherever he travelled.110

    Some conclusions

    The critical reader might conclude from the foregoing: there are some interesting new facts here, and perhaps it is true that Maund overstated his case regarding the military structure of the Ndebele state. But the Ndebele state did evolve from military origins; the underlying structure of the state was still therefore military, and existing accounts have only to be modified in detail. There are several reasons, however, for going further than this. In the first place, it is clear from the above analysis that even if the word 'regiment' is retained as a translation for ibutho, only a very small proportion of Ndebele settlements at any given time were 'mobilized' amabutho. Even though men from the reproductive imisi continued to be called out to fight from time to time, the 'army', that is the fighting amabutho, was an organ (if that is not an over-exact term) within the state and subordinate to it. To continue to describe the Ndebele state as an army would be tantamount to replacing the word state in its various contexts by the word army. At almost every point in the Ndebele state structure a word redolent of military meaning has been misleadingly applied to what were essentially political phenomena. The umusi was a settlement concerned with the whole gamut of human activity rather than with military affairs alone; the chief was a political, judicial and even spiritual leader, rather than a military 'officer', a hereditary 'baron' as opposed to a royally appointed 'official'; the isikulu was an informal and ever-changing group of friends, relatives and advisers of the king with a political role, rather than a military 'council'; the 'division' was not something akin to a Prussian canton but a social grouping antecedent to later nineteenth-century settlement; the king was not simply a commander-in chief (Lobengula never led an army into battle) but an administrator and a ruler in the full sense of the words.

    Secondly, a correct appreciation of amabutho evolution provides an understanding of how the state operated at other levels. For example, the manner in which political interests emerged away from the centre of the state can only be explained by reference to the evolution of amabutho. The majority of the great Ndebele families, such as the Sitholes of Amagogo, the Masukus of Matshetshe, the Matshazis of Ndinana or the Mafus of Godhlwayo, owed their rise to their identification with the creation and maturation of an ibutho. The process set up centrifugal tensions which, along with splits within the royal family, were at the root of the major crises the state faced in its short career (such as the civil wars of I841-2 and 1868-72). All Ndebele owed allegiance to the king; but their most proximate allegiance came to be to the chiefly family which held a stranglehold over power in the isigaba. Rivalries at high levels of the state were paralleled by similar struggles for power and position within the isigaba. The isigaba was the state writ small, a mini-state almost. As an ibutho matured, divided into imisi, occupied a definable geographical area for a generation or so, and experienced a succession of chiefs from the same family, it emerged as a rival power centre to the larger state. Paradoxically, the initial process of ibutho formation, partly a defence against the danger of state tensions (cf. the raising of Imbizo), led eventually to their magnification. Over-powerful chiefs such as Mtikana Mafu of Godhlwayo or Gambo Sithole of Amagogo were either killed or exiled.1"' Sooner or later one of them would have reacted as Mzilikazi did to Tshaka by seceding.

    In the third place, the evolved ibutho was the nucleus around which the state grew. It was reproductive and therefore expanded in population, even though some of its male offspring went into new amabutho, and many of its young females married into other izigaba. The mature warrior (iqawe) with several wives, a village of his own (umusi zamathanga), and many children, occupied a central position in Ndebele society. His family grew
    with the addition of captives (abafuyiweyo) taken in war, distributed to him by the king or by the chief and distributed by him amongst his wives. In an analogous way a brave man could become wealthy in cattle. His status within the isigaba increased if he married the daughter or other female relative of the chief. If he caught the king's eye he might be given the command of an ibutho (as Mhlumbi was in I890) and raise himself to chiefly rank. Only at certain points along this tortuous path was a man a purely military figure: his means may have been the exploitation of his martial abilities,112 but his aims were control of people, cattle and territory, the major standards by which others judged him.

    Many of these processes are either incompatible with or unaccounted for by the caricature of the Ndebele state as a conglomeration of uniformly structured 'regimental' towns. The descriptions of authors like E. A. Maund, F. W. T. Posselt and R. Summers are not so much unworkable (which is true) but invalid because looking at only a part, they generalized for the whole. The lessons are threefold. The historical analysis of the major Nguni states has for far too long been derived from tendentious or incomplete nineteenth-century accounts; the anthropological study of the nineteenth-century Nguni is all too frequently vitiated by poor use of what anyway is inadequate historical source material; lastly, it is possible that a fresh historical examination of other Nguni states, more particularly that of the Zulu, will lead eventually to substantial revisions in how we
    view their organizations and dynamic logic.


    The assumptions that Ndebele settlement was purely militarily orientated and that it was composed of a hierarchy of 'regiments' and 'divisions' or 'provinces' are false. The parallels between the Ndebele ibutho and the English regiment are so tenuous that the translation is best dispensed with. On the other hand, an Ndebele ibutho was, at least in one sense, a military organization which evolved over a number of years into a cluster of imisi (villages). These imisi were residential, essentially non-military, and composed by far the largest proportion of Ndebele settlement. The 'division' did not exist. Amhlope, Amakanda, Amnyama and Igapha were collective group concepts comprising imisi descended from four original or proto-amabutho created in the period before the migration of the Ndebele to the Matopos region. The sequence of creation of amabutho in the post-1850 period can roughly be determined, outbursts of ibutho formation usually coinciding with crises in the history of the kingdom. Amabutho created after the late 1860s such as Imbizo and Insuga disintegrated after the European conquest during the 1890s, whereas older, established imisi survive as concepts of allegiance to this day. A knowledge of how the Ndebele ibutho evolved is essential for a more complete understanding of the dynamics of Ndebele society at other levels, for example the way the chieftaincies (izigaba) and the great local lineages emerged, as well as the social and political context within which individuals sought to realize their ambitions. The unexpected way in which a closer look at the ibutho reveals much of the early literature on the Ndebele to be at best incomplete, at worst, caricature, but either way misleading, suggests that other nineteenth-century Nguni states may benefit from renewed historical examination.


    1. The following is based partly upon documents of the British South Africa Company (BSAC), and a number of Historical Manuscripts contained in the National Archives of Rhodesia, Salisbury. A particularly rich source for the Ndebele is material relating to the Chief Native Commissioner for Matabeleland, I897-19I4, the most important files of which are numbered NBi (In Letters), NB3 (Correspondence) and NB6 (Reports). Other file series of use are those designated CT (Correspondence of the Kimberley and later Cape Town offices of the BSAC), and LO (Correspondence of the London Board of the BSAC). Most of the material used represents oral traditions collected by Company officials and their correspondents for a variety of immediate purposes. Historical Manuscript references are distinguished in the footnotes by the prefix Hist. MSS. The most valuable single source is filed under the code Hist. MSS W18, and contains the reminiscences of R. Foster Windram, in fact a series of traditions collected from Ndebele between I937 and I94I. I have supplemented this material considerably by fieldwork carried out in the Belingwe, Lundi, Godhlwayo, Matopos, Ntabazinduna, Khumalo and Nkai Tribal Trustlands (TTLs) of western Rhodesia. I am particularly indebted to my research assistants E. M. Mhlanga, J. B. Dube and S. H. Khumalo, to M. Mahlangu for translating the work Umthwakazi by P. S. Mahlangu from Sindebele into English, to my interpreters C. Mkwananzi and M. Senda, to A. R. Simmens for drawing the map, and to the Research Board and the Department of History of the University of Rhodesia for helping to finance this field-work.
    2. J. A. Barnes, Politics in a Changing Society: A Political History of the Fort Jameson Ngoni (London, 1954), 36-41.
    3. For example, E. J. Krige, The Social System of the Zulus (Pietermaritzburg, I936), 261-5; M. Gluckman, 'The Kingdom of the Zulu of South Africa', in M. Fortes and E. E. Evans-Pritchard, African Political Systems (London, I940), 3I-2.
    4. A. J. B. Hughes and J. van Velsen, 'The Ndebele', in The Shona and Ndebele of Southern Rhodesia, Ethnographic Survey of Africa, Southern Africa, Part iv (London,1955), 68.
    5. P. Becker, Path of Blood: The Rise and Conquests of Mzilikazi, Founder of the Ndebele (London, Panther Books, 1972 reprint), 78.
    6. J. D. Omer-Cooper, The Zulu Aftermath: A Nineteenth Century Revolution in Bantu Africa (London, I966), 135.
    7. R. Summers and C. W. Pagden, The Warriors (Cape Town, 1970), 41-2.
    8. E. C. Tabler, The Far Interior: Chronicles of Pioneering in The Matabele and Mashona Countries, 1847-79 (Cape Town, I955), 13.
    9. F. C. Selous, Travel and Adventure in South-East Africa (London, I893), 8I, for example.
    10. The villages were not in any way physically linked but separated by tracts of countryside. The habit of referring to Ndebele settlements as 'towns' may have reflected the familiarity of most Ndebele travellers with Ngwato settlements which were much larger. The map on p. 609 is misleading because it shows only a small percentage of Ndebele villages. The majority were those of private individuals (imisi zamathanga) which are now extremely difficult to locate. The main conclusion from this is that the settlement "revolution' which was meant to have taken place in 1894-5 never occurred.
    11. For a detailed discussion of the major Ndebele chiefly families see my Ph.D. thesis on the Ndebele under the Khumalos, now in preparation.
    12. Hughes and Van Velsen, 'The Ndebele', 67; Omer-Cooper, Zulu Aftermath, 148-9.
    13. A. J. B. Hughes, Kin, Caste and Nation Among the Rhodesian Ndebele, Rhodes-Livingstone Papers No. 25 (Manchester, I956), 5. The terms 'segment' and 'segmentation' are of little practical use in describing Ndebele settlement or society.
    14. It is not true, as W. F. Lye claims in 'The Ndebele Kingdom South of the Limpopo', Journal of African History, x, i (I969), 99, that 'this regimental organization of the male population broke down any clan or local affiliations'. Indeed, the amabutho and the imisi which evolved from them became local affiliations; and the hereditary families which established themselves in power parallel to the evolution of settlement provided clan affiliations. Thus the Mafus of Godhlwayo or the Mkwananzis of Intunta were families with a tremendous local and personal following, as Mzilikazi found to his cost, for example, in the civil war of c. 1841-2, when both Godhlwayo and Intunta opposed him.
    15. P. R. Kirby (ed.), The Diary of Dr Andrew Smith, I834-6, 2 vols. (Cape Town, 1939-40), I, 293-
    16. G. G. B. Woods, 'Extracts from Customs and History; Amandebele', Native Affairs Department Annual (henceforth NADA), Ix (1931), 18.
    17. D. G. Lewis, 'Lobengula's Regiments: Recruiting and Lobolo', NADA, xxxiii (1956), 5.
    18. Hist. MSS WI8/I/2, Reminiscences of R. Foster Windram, Statement of Ntabeni Khumalo, 4 Feb. 1940.
    19. 19 Ibid. Some informants say that it was the grandmothers who did the menial tasks for the amajaha; others that at the beginning of an ibutho's life there were no women at all.
    20. J. P. R. Wallis (ed.), The Northern Goldfields Diaries of Thomas Baines, 3 vols. (London, I946), in, 658.
    21. Hist. MSS WI8/i/i, Reminiscences of R. Foster Windram, Statement of Ginyalitshe Hlabangana, 6 April I940.
    22. J. W. Posselt and M. Perham, 'The Story of Ndansi Khumalo of The Matabele Tribe', in M. Perham (ed.), Ten Africans (London, I936), 66-7.
    23. For other accounts of ibutho-raising see Wallis, Baines Diaries, I, 261; J. Mackenzie, Ten Years North of the Orange River (Edinburgh, I871), 327; and T. M. Thomas, Eleven Years in Central South Africa (London, I873), 183
    24. Kirby, Smith Diary, II, 246.
    25. Interview with Nyamabani Khumalo, Shabani, 6 Dec. 1973.
    26. J. P. R. Wallis (ed.), The Matabele Journals of Robert Moffat, I829-60, 2 vols. (London, 1945), I, 28I.
    27. Interview with Mabhena by E. M. Mhlanga, Avoca, Godhlwayo TTL, 24 Aug. 1972.
    28. For example, Mukontshwana Tjili had married at Ndinana before being drafted into Mbuyaswe, where he married a second wife; interview with Tjavu Tjili, Godhlwayo TTL, 24 Jan. 1974.
    29. Hist. MSS W18/i/i, Statement of Ginyalitshe Hlabangana, 6 April I940.
    30. Hist. MSS TH2/i/i, T. M. Thomas Journal, I874-83, entry for 25 April I877.
    31. Interview with Mkhwezeli Bozongwana by J. B. Dube, Ntabazinduna TTL, 24 June 1972.
    32. C 4643, 'Further Correspondence Respecting the Affairs of The Transvaal and Adjacent Territories', Feb. i886, Enclosure 8 in No. 34, Matabeleland, by Lieut. Maund, B.F.F., 115.
    33. As implied in Summers and Pagden, Warriors, 148.
    34. Hist. MSS W18/i/2, Statement of Ntabeni Khumalo, 4 Feb. 1940. Lye, 'Ndebele Kingdom', 99, is incorrect when he writes: 'the wives were either a gift of the king or were paid for with royal cattle'. A man's choice of wife was his own. Lobola was never paid with the king's cattle (izinkomo enkosi), but, at least for the first marriage, usually out of the private cattle (izinkomo zamathanga) of the father.
    35. NBI/I/2, Lanning to C. N. C., ii Dec. I897.
    36. NB3/i/6, Campbell to Jackson, 20 May I909.
    37. Maund, C 4643, iI6; interview with Mpuqa Msiza, Lundi TTL, 4 Dec. 1973. Summers and Pagden, Warriors, 47, refer to a 'junior company' of Imbizo called Encinyane. The view of H. Child, The amaNdebele (Salisbury, I968), 20, that 'regiments did not expand within themselves, losses in war being made up from recruitment' is thus incorrect.
    38. Mjaan Khumalo, chief of Imbizo, had at least two imisi zamathanga where he kept some of his wives; interview with Nqagwana Khumalo by J. B. Dube, Ntabazinduna TTL, 5 June 1972.
    39. NB6/i/i, C. N. C. Annual Report for year ending 31 Mar. I898, and Annual Report, Bulawayo, same year. Imbizo's dispersal may have been largely a result of the excessive attention it received from the Europeans, as well as its position on the main Bulawayo- Inyati wagon road. Other settlements probably broke up in the migrations prior to I840.
    40. Hughes, Kin, Caste and Nation, 13.
    41. Interview with Chief Ngungumbane Mkwananzi, Ngungumbane, Belingwe TTL, 5 Dec. 1973.
    42. Interview with Nqagwana Khumalo by J. B. Dube, 5 June 1972.
    43. Interview with Makwakwa Ngwenya by J. B. Dube, Nkai TTL, IO-I5 Nov. 1972.
    44. Interview with Sihlangu Tshabalala by J. B. Dube, Bulawayo, 16-24 Sept. 1972.
    45. Haynes was clearly referring to Zwangendaba when he claimed in I885, 'old regiments die out or are broken up and distributed among others'; see C 4643, Enclosure 9 in No. 34, 'Report on Matabililand', by Lieut. C. E. Haynes, I20-x.
    46. Interview with Mpuqa Msiza, 4 Dec. 1973.
    47. Interview with Tjavu Tjili, 24 Jan. 1974.
    48. This is only a rough guide since settlements such as Iliba and Induba did not break up but continued to reproduce until the end of the kingdom. Thus Manqikila, the eldest son and heir of Mehlomakulu, head of the Dhlodhlo family, was drafted into Inqobo some time after i869 and was still attached to Inqobo in I893, where and in which year his son, Ndabayenduku, was born.
    49. Interview with Mkhwezeli Bozongwana by J. B. Dube, 24 June 1972.
    50. On the other hand, informants often say that recruits to an ibutho were taken from a particular group of imisi. For example, Insuga had special links with the imisi of Inqobo and Ujinga in the Inkwegwesi valley. The identification of post-I840s imisi in the Matopos area with one or other of four original or proto-amabutho (discussed below) also suggests the linkage of an ibutho with a specific hinterland. Nevertheless, it seems that the amabutho of Lobengula's reign contained men from most parts of the kingdom.
    51. Interview with Ntolwane Dhlodhlo and Tito Matshazi, Lundi TTL, 4 Dec. 1973. This is in no way a complete list of Ndebele settlement.
    52. Interviews with Mpuqa Msiza, 3 Dec. I973; and with Zimu Moyo, Ngungumbane, Belingwe TTL, 5 Dec. 1973. Informants often arrived at this process only after much thought, and that such an evolution took place had seldom occurred to them.
    53. Hughes, Kin, Caste and Nation, II, uses the word ixhiba for 'province', but ixhiba simply means a hut (for unmarried boys or girls) or a group of warriors.
    54. Kirby, Smith Diary, II, 76, 79.
    55. Thomas, Eleven Years, 224-5.
    56. The exact status of both the umnumzana and the induna in nineteenth-century Ndebele society awaits clarification. Amongst the Zulu umnumzana means 'villageheadman', whereas Barnes, Politics, 9, describes him as a 'regional governor' of the Fort Jameson Ngoni. Barnes seems, however, to be referring to no more than the head of a lineage. Amongst the Ndebele the umnumzana was, roughly, a 'headman', and is today, according to Pelling, the equivalent of 'Mr'; see Wallis, Baines Diaries, I, 79; and J. N. Pelling, A Practical Ndebele Dictionary (Bulawayo, I966), 52.
    57. For Maund's interpretation, see C 4643, Enclosure 8 in No. 34, Matabeleland, 113-i6.
    58. L05/6/8, Lawley's speech at the Meeting of Headmen and Indunas at Bulawayo, 5 Jan. 1897.
    59. F. W. T. Posselt, 'The Rise of the Amandebele', Proceedings of the Rhodesian Science Association, xviii (I919-20); this is reprinted with minor changes in F. W. T. Posselt, Fact and Fiction (Bulawayo, 1I935), 1161-93.
    60. R. Summers, 'The Military Doctrine of the Matabele', NADA, xxxii (I955), 7-15.
    61. Summers, 'Military Doctrine', 8, admits that there is no Ndebele word for 'divisional commander'; he suggests induna yomuzi, which means, however, induna of a village.
    62. The military bias of Summers and Pagden is especially implicit in Appendix 2, 'Estimates of Regimental Strength at various times in 1893', Warriors, 148-51. Isikulu, for example, means 'important men,' and was never a formal council.
    63. A. J. B. Hughes, 'The Restructuring of Ndebele Society under European Control', unpublished Ph.D. typescript, no date (copy held by the National Free Library, Bulawayo), 132; Hughes, Kin, Caste and Nation, ii, 69.
    64. Hughes, 'Restructuring', 134. See also footnote I3.
    65. Hughes, Kin, Caste and Nation, 15-I6. It is rather the use of the word regiment which has created unnecessary confusion in Ndebele studies.
    66. They are usually referred to as amabutho.
    67. Hist. MSS W18/i/2, Statement on the Organization of the Matabele Nation by Ntabeni Khumalo.
    68. See especially P. S. Mahlangu, Umthwakazi (Cape Town, I957), 23-7. For Maund's lists see C 4643, 115-I6.
    69. Hist. MSS W18/i/i, Statement of Mvumi, ii Nov. I937. Lye, 'Ndebele Kingdom', 9I, refers to Amhlope as Mzilikazi's older married regiment.
    70. 'Mziki' (A. A. Campbell), 'Mlimo. The Rise and Fall of the Matabele (Pietermaritzburg, I926), 53, 59, 67; A. T. Bryant, Olden Times in Zululand and Natal (London, I929), 426, 438-9; Mahlangu, Umthwakazi, 23-7.
    71. Hist. MSS WI8/i/i, Second Statement of Ginyalitshe, 6 April 1940.
    72. Interview with Ngungumbane Mkwananzi, 5 Dec. 1973; interview with Mabhena by E. M. Mhlanga, 24 Aug. I972; Hist. MSS WI8/i/i, Statement of Ginyalitshe, 23 Nov. I937.
    73. 'Mziki', 'Mlimo, 59; Hist. MSS WI8/i/i, Statement of Mvumi, ii Nov. I937, who said: 'when Amnyama became very few they were put with Inzimazana [Mzinyati]'. Mzinyati, led by the Gwebu and Khumalo families, was always regarded as the most important of the Amnyama-descended imisi. Godhlwayo was formed at Mkwahla in the 1830s, some say as an offshoot of Mzinyati.
    74. 'Mziki', 'Mlimo, ch. I2. Gundwane's Amakanda-Amnyama group made Mzilikazi's son Nkulumane king. It is likely that this was at first regarded as a permanent solution, and symbolic of the emergence of a new but small Nguni state north of the Limpopo.
    75. Hist. MSS WI8/i/i, Second Statement of Ginyalitshe.
    76. 'Mziki', 'Mlimo, ch. ii.
    77. Hist. MSS WI8/i/i, Second Statement of Ginyalitshe; Mahlangu, Umthwakazi, 25.
    78. Interview with Zimu Moyo, 5 Dec. 1973. A glance at the map is enough to dispose of the idea of four large administrative divisions. The umbrella-handle is made by drawing a line connecting the imisi of Nqama, Amagogo, Nyamandlovu, Ujinga and Umcijo, all of which identified themselves with Igapha. Note that Nqama is separated from Amagogo by Amhlope-connected imisi such as Isizinda. Que Que is a modern town just to the north of the map.
    79. For Zwangendaba, Mncwazi and Ujinga see H. M. G. Jackson, 'Boer Invasion of Rhodesia', NADA, ii (1924), 58-60; Mhlagazanhlansi (N. Jones), My Friend Khumalo (Bulawayo, I944), ii. For Mahlokohloko and Inyati see Wallis, Moffat Journals, I, 229; II, 71-2, 249.
    80. For Induba see 'Mziki', 'Mlimo, IIo; for Mhlahlanhlela see J. P. R. Wallis (ed.), The Matabele Mission, a Selection from The Correspondence of John and Emily Moffat (London, 1945), 21 I; for Intemba see Wallis, Baines Diaries, ii, 535.
    81. Summers and Pagden, Warriors, say that Inqobo was formed out of the Mbuyaswe ibutho which Mzilikazi formed at the close of his life. Thomas, Eleven Years, I83 (writing in about 1871), describes umbuyazwi as 'the preparatory course of the [in the context, any] ibuto', which may or may not support this.
    82. London Missionary Society Archives (School of Oriental and African Studies), Matabeleland, Box i, Folder 3, Jacket B (henceforth LMS MLI/3/B), Sykes to Mullens, 2I June I878. The reasons for the change are unclear. Perhaps Intemba and Inyati had 'matured' and were no longer militarily effective; perhaps Lobengula was doubtful of their loyalty, or perhaps they were moved south to defend against the anticipated invasion by Mangwane, Lobengula's half-brother, who was supported by the Ngwato king, Macheng. The attack did not take place until January I872, however.
    83. Rhodesian Government Delineation Report, Gwelo District, The Gambiza Chieftainship, 1963.
    84. Thomas, Eleven Years, 190-2; CTi/8/4, Colenbrander to Harris, Telegram, 5 July 1892.
    85. 85 Interview wvith Sihlangu Tshabalala by J. B. Dube, 16-24 Nov. I972; Hist. MSS W18/i/i, Second Statement of Ginyalitshe, 6 April I940, who observed that Lobengula 'only wanted young men [for Imbizo] because they would have no knowledge of Nkulumane'. Nkulumane was almost certainly dead by 187I, but was being impersonated by a man called Kanda. The real threat to Lobengula was Mangwane.
    86. Mahlangu, Umthwakazi, 6o.
    87. LMS MLi/2/D, Thompson to Mullens, I4 Aug. i87I; Wallis, Baines Diaries, iIl, 657-8; 'Mziki', 'Mlimo, II9.
    88. See, for example, NBi/i/i, Robinson to C. N. C., 6 Aug. I900; NBE7/I/I, Stuart to C. N. C., 8 June 1897; NBI/I/5, Statement of Tala Ndiweni, 19 Nov. I902; Hist. MSS MAi/2/2, Diary of Major Thomas Maxwell I889-9I, entry for 27 Dec. 1890.
    89. Hist. MSS TH2/I/I, 'Thomas Diary', entry for October I879.
    90. Mbizo (F. V. Johnstone), 'Mtikana ka Mafu', NADA, IV (I926), 54-5.
    91. M. Gelfand (ed.), Gubulwayo and Beyond: Letters and Journals of the early Jesuit Missionaries to Zambesia, I879-87 (London, 1968), 463.
    92. CTi/I3/IO, J. S. Moffat to Harris, 6 Oct. I890.
    93. Hist. MSS MOI/I/5/6, J. S. Moffat Correspondence-Official and Political, Moffat to Loch, 24 May 1892. For Jameson's misrepresentation of Lobengula's permission for the pioneer column to enter Mashonaland, see J. Cobbing, 'Lobengula, Jameson and the Occupation of Mashonaland', to be published in Rhodesian History, IV (0974).
    94. Hist. MSS WI8/i/i, Joint Statement of Mvutu and Posela; and Statement of Siatcha, zo Nov. 1937; J. A. Pitout, 'Lobengula's Flight and the Shangani Battle', NADA, XL (i963), 7I; C 8547, 'Report by Sir Richard Martin on the Native Administration of the British South Africa Company', I897, 32-3, Carnegie to Martin, no date. The distinction between the umlisa and the umnumzana has not yet been cleared up.
    95. CTi/I3/4, Doyle to Harris, 25 July I890.
    96. Hist. MSS W18/i/z, Statement of Ntabeni Khumalo.
    97. D. N. Beach, 'The Rising in South-Western Mashonaland, I896-7', unpublished Ph.D. thesis, London University (1971), 221.
    98. J. White, 'History of Shabani' (forthcoming), draft chapter: 'The Ndebele Influence'.
    99. L05/6/7, W. I. S. Driver to C. N. C., 2o Dec. I896.
    100. It was present in the Bulawayo area by I889; see MOI/3/I1/, J. S. Moffat Diary I887-92, entry for 10 Dec. 1889.
    101. Hist. MSS W18/i/i, Statement of Mvumi; Mahlangu, Umthwakazi, 23.
    102. Beach, 'Rising', 2z2; Hist. MSS WIi/i/i, G. T. Wilkerson, 'The Matabele Nation', 19; Summers and Pagden, Warriors, I15.
    103. Hist. MSS C04/3/I, J. W. Colenbrander Diary, June-July I890, entry for 8 June I890.
    104. F. Gambo, 'The Royal House of the "Gambos"', NADA, XXXIX (I962), 49; Rhodesian Government Delineation Report, Nyamandhlovu District, The Matapula Chieftainship, I965.
    105. C. L. Norris Newman, Matabeleland and How We Got It (London, I895), I6i.
    106. Hist. MSS W18/i/z, Statement of Ntabeni Khumalo; Perham, Ten Africans, 67-8.
    107. For this defensive cordon see CTi/i3/3, Colenbrander to Curry, I June I892. A major link in it was Amaveni, a Rozvi settlement which Ndansi Khumalo referred to as 'baboons; we called them this because they were a mixed lot, not pure Matabele'. Amaveni was in the upper Gwelo region at least by the mid-i88os; see Perham, Ten Africans, 68; CTi/6/8, Selous to Selous Exploration Syndicate, z and IZ Oct. I889.
    108. Posselt, Fact and Fiction, 76; Hist. MSS WIi/i/i, Wilkerson, 'Matabele Nation', I9. Other Kalanga settlements under Ndebele control on the highveld to the west of Bulawayo were Usaba, Zinyama, Mpande and Lulwane (see map). Although 'governed' by Ndebele izinduna, they do not seem ever to have been amabutho in the formal sense.
    109. Hist. MSS WI8/i/z, Statement of Ntabeni Khumalo; Posselt, Fact and Fiction, 76; WIi /i /i, Wilkerson, 'Matabele Nation', 19.
    110. Interview with Nqagwana Khumalo by J. B. Dube, 5 June I972; Mhlagazanhlansi, My Friend Khumalo, z3; H. Vaughan-Williams, A Visit to Lobengula in I889 (Pietermaritzburg, I94I), 103; Hist. MSS FRz/z/i, The Reminiscences of Ivon Fry, 1938, 92. According to Nqagwana the Imbovane lived in a part of Bulawayo called Engoqeni.
    111. The careers of Mtikana and Gambo, as well as other chiefs, are discussed in my forthcoming Ph.D. thesis.
    112. Men could exploit other talents such as those of the isanusi ('doctor') or umkhanda (blacksmith), or even a personal hold over the king.

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