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Zwangendaba kaZiguda Jele Gumbi (c. 1785 – 1848) was the king of the Ngoni people for more than thirty years, from approximately 1815 to his death in 1848. He was the younger brother of Somkhanda kaZiguda Jele who remained with the Gumbi clan in Kwazulu Natal in areas of Pongola and the current Chief is Mbhekiseni Zeblon Gumbi.

Leadership and migration

Zwangendaba led his Jere people on a monumental migration of more than 1,600 km that lasted more than 20 years. A leader of incomparable stature, he took his initially small group (later called the Ngoni) from its original home near modern Swaziland to the western part of present-day Tanzania, forming it into one of the most powerful kingdoms of eastern Africa.[1] After being driven from the eastern region of what is now South Africa, near modern Swaziland, by the Zulus during the Mfecane, Zwangendaba led his people, then called the "Jere", on the migration.

Using many of Shaka Zulu's methods of rule such as rigid discipline in military and social organisation, he knitted his tribe and the unfortunate people abducted along the way into a cohesive unit. With his people he migrated north into tropical Africa, and is believed to have destroyed many of the structures at Great Zimbabwe on passing through.

The migration proceeded across the Zambezi in 1835 on a day when there was a total eclipse of the sun.

Their journey took them through the areas now known as Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, to the western part of Tanzania, where Zwangendaba set up a base at Mapupo. The Ngoni, once a small tribe, extended their dominion even further through present-day Zambia, Tanzania and Malawi when they fragmented into five separate groups following his death.

External sources