Episode 97 – Shaka shifts South, Mzilikazi raids West and Fynn becomes Zulu

We kick off this episode with Henry Francis Fynn, the trader who’d made his home in Port Natal and was part of a group of Englishmen who’d fought with Shaka against Sikhunyane of the Ndwande.

By 1826 Fynn had been living basically as a Zulu at Mpendwini, near the Mbokodwe stream which is close to Isipingo south of Durban.

Last week I explained how Shaka had donated three herds of cattle to Fynn so he could set up his important Umuzi. One of the herds was payment for helping defeat the Ndwandwe. Fynn by now was given a Zulu name, Mbuyazi – which means long-tailed finch, a bird, of the bay. One of his praise songs was all about the Finch, a fiscal shrike, which is particularly vicious in how it hunts – by impaling insects on thorns.

Fynn was Shaka’s favourite mercenary, a killer, and one of the few that Shaka allowed to kill people without his direct permission. Later Fynn’s descendents would become known as iziNkumbi, the locusts.

By 1826 Fynn had four, possibly five, Zulu wives. We don’t know their names because these were never passed down in the usual Zulu oral tradition, not even his great wife. But we know quite about about his children.

A son called Mpahlwa was born while Fynn was off fighting the NDwandwe, so he was conceived around December 1825. That was a few months after Fynn’s umuzi had been setup.

He adopted the Zulu custom of living, and would send for one of his wives every night, who would come to his hut at nightfall. Only poor men would creep around at dusk to visit their wives. Fynn had thrown off all pretenses of living like a European – unlike some of the other traders such as Maclean the youngster, or Farewell.
So by 1826, Shaka was watching these traders with their guns and ships carefully. In the same year, the Zulu king decided to move his entire main umuzi closer to Port Natal – building his new residency on the site of an Umuzi long abandoned by the Cele chieftan Dibhandlela.
We’ll come back to what happened there next episode, right now lets swing to the north west deeper– because our old friend – who was actually still quite young by the name of, Mzilikazi of the Khumalo had been a very very busy young man.

The remnants of Sikhuyane’s Ndwandwe, shattered by Shaka, joined up with him in the area around the upper reaches of the Vaal River by the end of 1826. The erosion of power of the Buhurutshe people was taking place, the Mzilikazi was also incorporating refugees from the Tswana and Sotho chiefdoms as the area to the south and West of the Vaal became more unstable.

The Pedi had also been defeated earlier by Zwide’s Ndwandwe and now Mzilikazi was busy taking advantage of their defeat to raid their old stomping ground. The Khumalo people had become an agglomeration of their original clan from Zululand and the Tswana called them the Matabele – Nguni speakers called them the amaNdebele.

amaNdebele means the Marauders. They were indeed, amaNdebele.
18 Dec 2022 English South Africa History · Places & Travel

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