DAILY DOSE OF HISTORY: Queen Nandi – Mother of Shaka Zulu

Queen Nandi, Black queen, Shaka Zulu, Black History 365, DDH: Daily Dose of History

Langeni

Ndlorukazi Nandi kaBebe eLangeni (meaning The Sweet One) was born ca. 1760, in Langeni. She was the daughter of Bhebhe, a minor chief of the Langeni tribe. Because there is no written documentation about her childhood, very little is known about Queen Nandi’s early life.

Wedlock

Before she became a Queen, Nandi was not treated like royalty. It is believed that after visiting relatives in the Babanango Hills, Nandi and the small caravan that she was with encountered Zulu warriors. One of those warriors was Senzangakhona kaJama, king of the Zulu people. Senzangakhona impregnated Nandi out of wedlock. When Nandi first informed the king of her pregnancy, village elders rejected her claims, stating that she had become infected by the Shaka beetle which causes the stomach to bloat. Nandi was, in fact, pregnant and when the child was born, she named him Shaka after the beetle; she birthed Shaka Zulu.

Shame

Nandi and the new-born Shaka were escorted to the Zulu capital where they were shamed. Senzangakhona initially denied paternity of Shaka but eventually married Nandi. She was then placed at the status of a lowly third wife. Not only was Nandi a mother out of wedlock but she was also in a forbidden inter-clan marriage.

Queen Nandi, Black queen, Shaka Zulu, Black History 365, DDH: Daily Dose of History

Qwabe

It was forbidden for Nandi to marry a Zulu because her mother was the daughter of a Qwabe chief. Since the Qwabe and Zulu claim the same ancestry, intermarriage between members of either tribe was forbidden.

Mthethwa

Nandi and Shaka were not welcomed with open arms. She was constantly bullied by Senzangakhona’s other wives and their children. Eventually, Nandi gathered Shaka and fled the Zulu tribe. They lived a nomadic life, wandering from one place to another until they found the Mthethwa clan. The Mthethwa clan embraced Nandi and Shaka. The clan leader, Diniswago, took young Shaka under his tutelage, teaching him how to lead and fight. They remained with the Mthethwa clan until Shaka made his way back to the Zulu people.

Queen

When Shaka returned to the Zulu tribe, he claimed the throne. He was now king of the people who tormented his mother. Shaka not only appointed Nandi as Queen of the Zulu people but also as his advisor. Shaka began to worship his mother, placing her on the same level as a god-like figure.

Death

Queen Nandi advised her son until the day she died, October 10, 1827. Even in death, she had great power of the Zulu tribe. As Shaka mourned the loss of his mother, he ordered that any family who had a child within a year of Queen Nandi’s death would be executed. Nandi went from a mistreated lowly third wife to Queen of the Zulu people. Queen Nandi, Black queen, Shaka Zulu, Black History 365, DDH: Daily Dose of History    
**The views and actions of the DDH historical figures that are featured may not reflect the views and beliefs of Ramiro The Writer or We Buy Black and affiliates. Thank you.**
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