The Ngoni of Malawi (A History Revisited)

12 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2015

See all articles by Sunduzwayo Madise

Sunduzwayo Madise

University of Warwick; University of the Western Cape; University of Malawi; University of Malawi

Date Written: March 27, 2015


This article is about the historical origins of the Ngoni found predominantly in the Malawian districts of Mzimba and Ntcheu. It is not about the battles that the Ngoni fought, nor is it about the succession battles that each group has had to overcome. It is not about the Ngoni language or culture, although elements as they impact on this article may be touched upon. Though the article mentions present day situations, these are for the sake of comparison and context. The article really does not aim to go into events that occurred after the 19th century. And since most of the sources were originally through oral means, it is possible there maybe a few differences in sources of events and when they happened. This is conceded. In a sense, this article aims to acquaint the reader with an overview of where the two groups predominantly originated from. To those who may be of Ngoni origin, it may be a revelation, surprise, confirmation, a shock – all depending on the history that each individual has grown up to know. As a piece of researched and academic work, it would fail in its purpose if it did not do this. But this research is on-going.

The thrust of the thesis of this article is that the Maseko Ngoni (Ntcheu) originated from Swaziland while the Jele Ngoni (Mzimba) originated from Zululand. Despite differences in their origins, the two groups may be said to be cousins. The actually lived almost next door to each other before events thrust them to meet again, but in another part of Africa.

Keywords: Ngoni, Nguni, Maseko, Jele, Zwangendaba, M'mbelwa, Ngwane, Mputa, Gomani

Suggested Citation

Madise, Sunduzwayo, The Ngoni of Malawi (A History Revisited) (March 27, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Sunduzwayo Madise (Contact Author)

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Road
Coventry CV4 7AL, CV4 7AL
United Kingdom


University of the Western Cape ( email )

Private Bag X17 Bellville
Cape Town, Western Cape 7535
South Africa


University of Malawi ( email )

Faculty of Law (Chancellor College)
P.O. Box 280


University of Malawi ( email )

Chancellor College
Mathematical Sciences
Zomba, 265

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