Last modified: 2005-09-10 by bruce berry
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KwaNdebele was a small contiguous territory in the central Transvaal
(today's north-western most Mpumalanga).
Antonio Martins, 30 May 1999
KwaNdebele was situated north-east of Pretoria and was granted internal
self-government on 1 April 1981. The name KwaNdebele means the place or
home of the Ndebele.
Bruce Berry, 1 December 1998
The Ndebele of
both Mpumalanga and Limpopo
Province are not, as commonly thought, offshoots of the Zulu. The abeNguni of Natal (KwaZulu-Natal)
can only be referred to as Zulu from the time of Shaka onwards. Before
that the Zulu were a very small clan. The Ndebele of the Transvaal
region settled in their present homes at least a century before Shaka's
kingdom emerged. Although they most likely are offshoots of the Natal Nguni,
they predate the Zulu kingdom. These two groups are constantly confused
with the Ndebele of Mzilikazi, who was a breakaway from Shaka, and who
took in many refugees fleeing from Shaka's reign of terror. An additional
reason for this confusion is that during Mzilikazi's early period of kingdom-building,
he operated in the regions now called western Mpumalanga
and Gauteng, close to the home of the Southern
Ndebele. Under pressure from the Voortrekkers
he moved first to the Marico district (now in North
West Province) and then to Bulawayo (now in Zimbabwe).
Mention of abeNguni in Natal and Zulu calls to mind another distinction (now obsolete). When the Colony of Natal was established, only the abeNguni falling into the Zulu kingdom were referred to as Zulu, by either black or white. The Nguni-speakers within the colony referred to themselves by their clan names, not by the name of any larger grouping. The white colonists
referred to them as Kaffirs (a word now avoided, and for good reason). However, when the Nguni language was recorded in Natal by Bishop Colenso, he took to referring to it, and to its speakers, as Zulu. Gradually white colonists began referring to colonial Nguni as Zulu. It took another generation before the colonial Nguni used the term Zulu of themselves. But by then political developments had aroused a great deal of sympathy for the Zulu royal house, because of the way the colonial authorities were treating the king (who at times was even deprived of his title). The result was that whereas the Nguni within Natal (south of the Tugela River) had seen themselves as being beyond the authority of the Zulu kingdom in the 1840s, by the end of the century they were loyal subjects of the Zulu paramount. Without this development, it would not have been possible for the Zulu Bantustan of KwaZulu to incorporate the tribal lands south of the Tugela in the 1960s.
Mike Oettle, 16 Dec 2001