The pride of Maseko Ngoni, speaking to spirits through Umhlangano

“Mothers with children at their backs, luggage on their heads, lucky men with herds of cattle in front, bows and arrows in their hands, on bare foot they started running away for their dear lives from Shaka the Zulu, most powerful king and the great warrior.

Inkosi ya Makhosi Gomani V on his royal seat-Pic Lisa Vintula
Inkosi ya Makhosi Gomani V on his royal seat-Pic Lisa Vintula
Gomani confers with minister of Sports and culture, Obama Chiumia at Umhlamgano- Pic by Lisa Vintula
Gomani confers with minister of Sports and culture, Obama Chiumia at Umhlamgano- Pic by Lisa Vintula
Boys performing ngoma dance at Umhlangano- Pic by Lisa Vintula
Boys performing ngoma dance at Umhlangano- Pic by Lisa Vintula

“No one could dare facing him, in fact, Shaka Zulu wanted to revenge on the death of his boss the ruling king then, who was murdered by rivals of one of the Nguni clans,” says Grace Palima, 92, of Group Village Headman Kamiza, Inkosi Kwataine in Ntcheu in an interview.

Palima said Maseko Ngoni lived with other Nguni clans, like the Zulu, Xhosa, in the Usutu Valley which stretches from the present Zululand of Republic of South Africa to Swaziland. She says hostilities broke between Shaka Zulu and his subjects leading to some of his royalists free Kwa Zulu Natal in search of peaceful land.

“The long journey characterized by continued raids and fights is termed ‘Mfecane’ in the mother tongue, Isi-Zulu or Isi-Ngoni,” says Inkosi ya Makhosi Gomani V born Mswati Kanjedza Willard Gomani. “Ngonis by nature are soldiers” adds Gomani also known with his royal titles, Ngwenyama and Gumede, meaning the lion and the last authority respectively.

Gomani narrates, “After triumphant long walks, conquering many tribes on our way, finally settled at Lizwe la Zulu, (land of the Zulu) mispronounced as Lizulu also ermed as ‘nkosini’, Maseko Ngoni headquarters of Mozambique, Tanzania and Malawi.”

In an interview with Berma Ziphondo, the leading Imp in saluting the Inkosi ya Makhosi, he said there is only one word that is more sacred to be used anyhow.

Bayethe‘, is the supreme respect one must salute to draw the attention, if they want to speak to Gomani, Amakhosi (Traditional Authorities, are accorded ‘Zaithwa’ or ‘Qomo’), it’s punishable to accord anyone this salutation in the Ngoni sorority,” said Ziphondo.

The Ngwenyama told Mana that, with his Impis, he envisioned Umhlangano to be a very auspicious heritage where Ngonis of the three countries should share cultural values and beliefs of sleeping spirits of their forefathers. The 2016 event is slated for 3, September.

“The word ‘Umhlangano’ means coming together of people from different directions, calling it Tsangano is a product of a failed pronunciation of this Zulu word. The event is of great value.

“It restores unity and courage among Ngoni, revamps the eroded cultural beliefs and values like dances, worshipping ‘inkosi nkulu nkulu’, (God) offering sacrifices to our beloved departed ancestral souls, to give us peace and blessings, ” said Gomani, “M’khwisulo’ is a spirit honoring prayer, performed by the elders only on the tombs.”

Most people have wondered doves on this function, Gomani said, “We fly two white doves on this function to symbolize peace; doves are peaceful birds as current Ngonis are peaceful and development conscious.”

Gomani then urged every Ngoni to work hard in fields, at school and their different tasks that bring them butter on the table. When most people think that beer drinking is a routine for Ngoni, Gomani discusses differently.

“Beer drinking must not be done during profitable hours of the day. I ask people to shelve polygamy and womanizing to fight the HIV and AIDS pandemic,” said Gumede clad in a leopard skin at his royal chair at Nkosini.

The Gomani royal family, trace its roots to the royal hierarchy of Ngacamane Maseko, who had succeeded King Mcamane Maseko 1, who ruled in parts of South Africa and Swaziland.

Imp Kandi Padambo said, “Due to linguistic influence of other languages they came into contact with, during ‘Mfecane’ Nguni names suffered change. Nguni became Ngoni while ‘Ngacamane’ is now the royal name Gomani.”

Padambo said that King Maphanga Maseko was succeeded by his son, King Ngacamane II; also called Ngwana Maseko who left Swaziland with some of his subjects. These Ngoni entered Mozambique and settled in Angonia Province, after crossing the Zambezi River in 1835.

He added that Ngacamane passed on in 1841 and was succeeded by his son Mputa, led the ngoni to Tanzania at Songea District, where he died in 1856. Chikuse Gomani 1, first son of Mputa took over.

Padambo further said that Chikuse being young, Chidyaonga, Mputa’s young brother, acted as regent and established headquarters at Domwe helped by queen mother ‘indhlovukazi’ Namulangeni, later handed over power to Chikuse in 1870 and died in 1878.

“Chikuse the brave king, strongly criticized British brutality on Ngonis, he was tied to a tree, gruesomely shot in 1891, between Dombole and Chiole close to grounds of Gongolo at Nkolimbo Village, Inkosi Kwataine in Ntcheu, ” saying Padambo it is a supreme reason Umhlangano is held at Nkolimbo.

And Ziphondo said the site is a blessing and historical hence performing dances, like ligubo and cattle slaughtering close Chikuse’s monumental tombstone marks the peak of the whole function.

“This is a holy sacrifice in respect of his soul. “The bull is speared by cultural combatants once on the forehead, only the brave can have a glance on this process,” says Ziphondo.

With a jovial face Padambo narrowed his eyes at this reporter and said that, ‘imp’ means soldiers of development, and are only chosen by Ngwenyama himself.

“Since the institution of Umhlangano, cultural preservation is taking a fruitful shape. So far, young girls (Mamtombezane) are drilled in a royal dance, ‘Wuyeni’ while boys (abathwana) are taught in preparing regalia from hides and dancing of the Ngoma, our cultural military dance, ” said Padambo.

Andrew Kamlopa, the Chairman of All Maseko Ngonis Living in Lilongwe echoes that Umhlangano has assisted on ngonis living in the cities and towns of Malawi.

“We are able to practice what our cultures demand us to do while miles away from home. Youngsters are able to follow etiquette like squatting and kneeling before elderly people besides knitting beads, dances are growing hot in towns,” said Kamlopa.

Kamlopa further said that Umhlangano has borne Ngonis Isi- Zulu School, flourishing in Lilongwe, through the efforts of Gomani V.

“Isingoni language classes are in progress in various parts of Lilongwe. This has been possible with the available book, ‘Funda Isingoni’ (Learn Ngoni langauge) Gumede’s initiatives on cultural preservation,” said Kamlopa Ngoni would soon proudly converse in their once eroded tongue.

Reginna Kumpalume, 10, of TA Mpando in Ntcheu, the youngest girl in the well-liked Lilongwe, Wuyeni dance, staying in area 36 in Lilongwe, hailed the dreamer of Umhlangano and its gorgeous outcomes.

“I am a Wuyeni leading singer, this heritage has taught us a lot, we must not imitating foreign cultures, while living in town where there is lots of technological devices,” said Kumpalume.

Padambo narrates that, after Chikuse’s death, Gomani Chikuse became, Inkosi ya Makhosi 1, Zithonga Gomani was crowed Gomani II in 1921, he was disposed on 22 May in 1953 by colonial government, and he went into deep sleep on 12, May 1954. Willard Bvalani Nkhwende Kwacha Phillip Gomani Maseko became Gomani III. He named his fourth born son 15 October 1961, Kanjedza to remember the anguish he suffered at Kanjedza Prison. Ntcheu Hospital, Secondary School and District Council Hall are his landmark achievements. He died 86, in 2006.

Kanjedza Willard Gomani was crowned on 21, June 2008, as Inkosi ya Makhosi Gomani IV on his retirement from Malawi Defence Force. “The Ngwenyama passed on, on 26 September, 2009 after only serving for a year,” he continues Izulu lididike ‘ngonis wept, death occurred again’, ” says Padambo.

Goman V was crowed on August 5, 2012, said Umhlangano has three supreme pillars among the Ngoni and Malawi at large. “Unity, love and Godliness are the pivotal cornerstones of this cultural heritage, therefore I want Nkolimbo to be a fully equipped cultural centre” adding Ngonis, socialize, learn cultural values, know their history besides cultural preservation.

He then urged Ngonis to embrace the culture of patrilineal system of marriage through ‘lobola’ to prevent chieftaincy wrangles rocking his territory, when a chief has passed on.

Senior Chiefs Kwataine and Makwangwala said Ngoni would not forsake the installation ritual. “The rightful heir to the throne is demanded to stand on the grave of the dead chief on the burial day amid the crowd. Only this person is confirmed to be our chief,” said Kwataine.

Under the help of Amakhosi (TAs) and Impis, Gomani reigns from Angonia District to other parts of Mozambique, Tanzania and Malawi, in Ntcheu, Dedza, Lilongwe at Msinja, Dowa, Salima, Mangochi, Balaka, Neno, Mwanza, Blantyre, Chiradzulu, Zomba and Thyolo,

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Sakhathala mwayi satolatudzi
Sakhathala mwayi satolatudzi
5 years ago

I love this Ngwenyama, koma not impressed with the dressing i don’t know who came up with this idea of western millitary attire. We have our own, i would love to see him dressed in our own.

5 years ago

Mfumuyi ikuoneka kuti ili ndi masomphenya polimbikitsa ana maphunziro komanso ntchito zina zachitukuko. Mfumu zina zachichepere mdziko muno zikutchuka ndi kumwa mowa komanso kuchita zibwenzi zamnanu! Kwa Inkosi ya Makhosi Goamni V, Gumede, Ngwenyama, ine ndingoti pitilizani ntchito zabwino zomwe mukugwira! Unkulunkulu yedwa akubusise!

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