Episode 72 – Shaka flees south over the Thukela River as Zwide’s Ndwandwe expand their raiding

By the 1810s, Zwide had built a powerful centralized kingdom and reinforced this power using his extensive family. He also formed feared amabutho such as the amaPhela, the abaHlakabezi, and isiKwitshi and the amaNkaiya. Most of these were around before Shaka became king of the Zulus, and the Ndwandwe were so large that they split into semi-autonomous sections such as the Nxumalo, the Manqele and the Phiseni.
At first, Zwide concentrated has raids to the north, around modern day Iswatini. The Ndwande attacked Sobhuza of the Dlamini-Swazi north of the Phongolo River many times, but the 1815 attack was characterized by extreme violence. Sobhuza was forced to flee along with his umuzi and his people were almost destroyed. The description of the ill will makes little sense because Zwide had married off one of his daughters to Sobhuza.
The Dlamini were already facing raids from the east, from closer to Delagoa Bay. The Ndwandwe were regarded as bandits and destabilized that part of southern Africa, then turned their attention further South. Zwide attacked the Khumalo people living between the Mkhuze and White Mfolozi rivers and eventually, Donda of the Khumalo was killed by Zwide.
The year 1815 is seen as highly significant because it was then that Matiwane of the Ngwane was driven out of what he’d thought was a well-defended area between the Bivane River and Upper Mfolozi. Matiwane relaxed after some years of building his power base, including concluding an alliance with the Hlubi and then the Mthethwa.
Out of the blue, Zwide dispatched his men and they fell upon the amaNgwane, driving them out of their homes. This moment is regarded as the first of many destabilizing events between the Thukela and the Ponghola that led to a movement of people across the country – the sub-continent, and migration epic oral storytelling.
It’s called the Mfecane.