Home HISTORY FORM 2 Movement and settlement of the Ngoni to East Africa

Movement and settlement of the Ngoni to East Africa


They then crossed river Zambezi and river Limpompo and moved northwards in search of new
land. Later in 1835 they divided into two groups. The one group under the leadership of
Zwangendaba passed west of Lake Malawi and settled at Ufipa in 1840. They were attracted to
this area here because of the many herds of cattle around.
Zwangendaba led the biggest Ngoni group that entered in East Africa. They crossed the Zambezi
River, moved through Malawi and Zambia until they reached the fipa plateau in around 1840‟s.
Zwangendaba died here in around 1845, and his followers splint up into five sections.
Three sections returned south to Zambia and Malawi while the other two such as Tuta and
Gwangara sections remained at ufipa. Another group under the leadership of Induna Maputo
(Maseko Ngoni) passed East of Lake Malawi and settled at Songea. When Zwangendaba died
around 1845, the Ufipa Ngoni disagreed and split into five groups.
Whereby the two groups remained in East Africa such as Tuta and Gwangara Ngoni, three
groups moved out of East Africa that is to say, one group moved to Malawi and the two moved
back to Zambia.
The Tuta Ngoni, the smallest group left in Ufipa, moved northwards fighting and crashing with
the Holoholo near Lake Tanganyika, they disrupted the trade route between Tabora and Ujiji. In
the1850s they invaded the Nyamwezi capturing many and incorporating them in their ranks.
They finally settled at Kahama South of Lke Victoria.
The Gwangara Ngoni under the leadership of Zulugama moved eastwards to Songea where they
met the Maseko Ngoni. The two groups fought and the Maseko Ngoni were defeated and pushed
out of Songea in 1860‟s.
Some Maseko moved back to Mozambique while others moved to Kilombero valley where they
became known as the Mbunga. Another splinter group moved to Newala, Masasi and Tunduru.
From Songea the Ngoni raided widely, finally settling southern Tanzania among the Bena, Hehe
and Sangu. The Ngoni migration which started around 1820s had ended by the year 1860s.

Why were the Ngoni successful in defeating/conquering the people
of East Africa.

The Ngoni came in big numbers and were strong:On their way they absorbed or fought off the
people they encountered, capturing the young for worries and young women for wives.They had
good military organization with age-regiments calledimpis” (strong army).
The Ngoni had a large, well trained and disciplined army; they were grouped in age-regiments
which were maintained for long periods.The Ngoni did not cultivate but rather lived by
plundering from others this enabled them to have a standing army always ready for battle.
They had superior weapons such as the short stabbing spear (Assegai) and big cowhide shields,
which only left soldiers face exposed to the enemy, protected the worriers. Instead of the long
throwing spears which had to be thrown one by one, the Ngoni adopted short stabbing spears and
clubs known as Assegai, copied from Shaka the Zulu.
On the other hand their enemy used the long throwing spear. They used this for close hand to
hand combat, and the warriors could be protected by the large cow-hides shields which left only
the warrior‟s face exposed to the enemies.
They had superior military tactics such as cow horn method (semi-circle), which was unfamiliar
in East Africa. They fought in organised age regiments and could attack their enemies using the
cow horn formation. They also chose clear open spaces for fighting and liked attacking their
enemies during nights.
They met small and fragmented societies, which were unable to challenge their military
organisation. Slave trade had undermined most of the communities of southern Tanzania.The
Ngoni were successful due to their determination. They were determined to conquer and
obtained places for settlement. This was due to the fact that they were already chased away from
their homeland, and their only alternative was to get determined and fight any people they came
The East African people were caught unaware and therefore did not offer much resistance. The
Ngoni were successful because the local people whom they were fighting with were so weak adlived in small groups, which could not resist/challenge the sudden and unexpected Ngoni
Disunity among the East African peoplewholived in isolated societies, made it easy for Ngoni to
defeat them.
The Ngoni were fully united under their commanders. They were successful because of their
unity and solidarity. They mixed freely with the non-Ngoni speaking people.They had strong
military leaders for example, Zwangendaba, Induna and Maputo who were able to unite and
command the Ngoni.
They used assimilation policy, i.e. they absorbed the people they defeated. They would force the
captured men from other tribes to join them and became Ngoni warriors.They also made
themselves fearful to their enemies by wearing the skeletons of their victims.


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