Khumalo clan names originate in northern KwaZulu, South Africa. The Khumalos are a subgroup of the Zulus and Ngunis known as the Mntungwa. Other groups included in this classification are Blose, Mabaso, and Zikode – all located between the Ndwandwe and Mthethwa peoples.
Their most famous member was Mzilikazi who was an influential figure during the mfecane period (a time of great upheaval in southern Africa) and founder of the Northern Ndebele nation.
Izithakazelo zakwa Khumalo
Nina bakaBhej’ eseNgome,
Nin’ enadl’umuntu nimyenga ngendaba,
Nin’ enadl’ izimf’ezimbili ikhambi laphuma lilinye,
Shobana noGasa kaZikode,
Okhatshwe ngezind’ izinyawo nangezimfushanyana,
UNyama yentini yawoZimangele
Mabaso owabas’ entabeni kwadliwa ilanga lishona,
Nin’ abakwaMawela owawel’ iZambezi ngezikhali,
Nin’ abakwaNkomo zavul’ inqaba,
Zavul’ inqaba ngezimpondo kwelaseNgome zahamba,
Nin’ enalukudl’ umlenze kwaBulawayo,
Inkubele abayihlabe ngamanxeba,
Abakhule ngezinyawo ezimfishanyana nezimaqhukulwana,
Inyang’ abathe beth’ ifil’ uZulu kanti isiyetheswe,
Yetheswe ngoNyakana kaMpeyana,
UBando abalubande balushiy’ uZulu,
UNtshwintshwintshwi kaNoyanda noNdaba,
UNkone evele ngobus’ emdibini,
History of the Khumalo Clan
Until the advent of Zwide and the Ndwandwe people, life was straightforward, and the Khumalos lived at Mkhuze had access to all that the region that would become Zululand had to offer: plentiful water, fertile soil, and grazing ground.
The Khumalos eventually had to take a side in the early nineteenth century, which they delayed as much as possible. To keep the Ndwandwe happy, Mashobana – a Khumalo chief – married the daughter of the Ndwandwe chief Zwide and fathered a son: Mzilikazi. The Ndwande are amaNguni aseMbo but all speak similar languages (all Nguni languages have similarities).
Mashobane was killed by Zwide when he failed to tell him about the patrolling Mthethwaamabutho, which led to leadership of the Khumalo falling into hands of Mzilikazi. Immediately upon receiving news of this, fifty warriors joined Shaka under orders from Mzilikazi due to lack of trust for his grandfather.
Shaka was ecstatic that the Khumalos would be able spies on Zwide and the Ndwandwes. After several battles, Shaka bestowed Mzilikazi with the prestigious honor of being chief of the Khumalos and to remain semi-autonomous from the Zulu if they could defeat Zwide.
Mzilikazi’s addition to the team caused immense jealousy amongst those who had been with Shaka for many years. None of them, however, were equals to Mzilikazi in terms of warrior skills. Mzilikazi carried out all the intelligence and planning regarding the defeat of Zwide.
Because of this, when Zwide was defeated, Shaka rightfully acknowledged that he could not have done it without Mzilikazi and presented him with an ivory axe. There were only two such axes in existence – one for Shaka and one for Mzilikazi. After conquering Zwide, Shaka personally placed the plumes on Mzilikazi’s head.
The Khumalo’s and Shaka
Shaka sent an army north to the territory of one Raninsi, a Sotho, and Mzilikazi tested it. Mzilikazi refused to give Shaka his cattle when Ranimsi was defeated. Shaka loved Mzilikazi so much that he did not do anything about it.
However, his generals who had always disliked Mzilikazi, decided to take action. They sent a first force with the intention of teaching Mzilikazi a lesson. Unfortunately, their plan failed as Mzilikazi’s 500 warriors fought fiercely and soundly defeated the Zulu army which consisted of 3,000 soldiers. It is worth noting that at the time of battle, Mzilikazi had an advantage as he was able to find cover among the mountains.
Mzilikazi was the only warrior in history to have defeated Shaka in battle, thus making him the most powerful ruler of his people.
Shaka was not bothered, but he sent his experienced division, the Ufasimbi, to get rid of Mzilikazi and the embarrassing situation they were in. With only three hundred loyal warriors who were outnumbered by Shaka’s army and betrayed by his brother Zeni, (who desired Mzilikazi’s power for himself), Mzilikazi was defeated.
After their exile, Khumalo clan names were dispersed throughout southern Africa, with some becoming the Sotho and others joining other tribes such as the Tswana, but the great majority remained Zulu and Mthwakazi. The Ndebeles are known as “Mthwakazi.”
“Matabele” is a name originating from white settlers. It comes from “Tebele”, which was the name given to all Zulus by the Sotho tribe at that time. The Ndebeles are Mthwakazi and they draw their strength and wisdom from King Mzilikazi.