The Ngoni were small group of people but were able to make their presence and authority fell by
the local people because of their leadership, outstanding military efficiency and their capacity to
absorb conquered people into their armies.
Militarily the Ngoni were organised in large standing armies and age regiments; people of the
same age trained together, which brought unity and efficiency.They used the short stabbing
spears called assegai rather than the long throwing spears which meant that the warriors could
attack more effectively at a close range
They used large cow hide shields, which could not be easily penetrated by spears. They used the
cow horn method of surrounding an enemy and attacking from all sides giving the enemy little
chance to escape.
They often fought on their feet and in open areas for easy movement. They moved in a large
numbers which helped them to outnumber their enemies who were often caught unaware, they
used to absorb and assimilate all conquered people.
The Social, Political and Economic Effects of the Ngoni Migration.
- The Ngoni invasion led to the rise on outstanding leaders to prominence. These included
Mirambo, Nyungu ya Mawe and Mkwawa, who used the Ngoni military tactics to build their
- Many small Ntemi chiefdoms came together (united) and formed large political units
under strong leaders to fight the Ngoni for example Sangu and Hehe (re-organisation).
- There was formation of new societies/tribe like the Mbunga.
- The Hehe under Mkwawa were able to resist the Germans.
- There was spread of Ngoni customs and culture for example initiation ceremonies where
girls were taught sex educations and circumcision.
- It led to formation of a large Ngoni society in East Africa as they absorbed many people.
- It led to the ormation of some societies by those who used Ngoni tactics for example
Nyamwezi under Mirambo.
- It led to the introduction of new weapons eg. assegai, cowhides and shields.
- From the Ngoni invasion people learned how to become organised from smaller
disorganised society, to well organised bigger political systems. These were to be under the
control and leadership of organised, strong and efficient rulers such as the Sangu chief, Hehe etc.
- There were intermarriages between Ngoni and Nyamwezi which subsequently led to
improved relationships between the invaders and indigenous people and an increased population.
- They caused the loss of lives leading to depopulation in some areas where they got
warriors this was especially in southern Tanzania. This was due to the killing of people in the
expansionist wars e.g. the Mariti remnants of Rugarugas killed so many people.
They introduced military organisation and tactics to such an extent that the Ngoni lost
their superiority. e.g Holoholo were able to defeat the Tuta Ngoni when they re attacked them.
- Their movement led to wider spread of devastation, depopulation and displacement of
- They destroyed the economy of the people of southern Tanzania when they grabbed their
cattle (the Ngoni were cattle plunderers). The Ngoni invasion led to poverty, i.e. it led to the
creation of the class of poor people as their property continued to be destroyed and persistently
looted during the wars.
- The Ngoni led to formation of refugees who lived by plundering and killing i.e. the
Mariti and Rugaruga who were later used by ambitious men like Mirambo and Nyungu ya Mawe
to form their empires.
- The Tuta Ngoni on their movement northwards, disrupted the trade particularly between
Tabora and Ujiji.
- There was loss of peoples‟ language, culture and customs (detribalisation of people), i.e.
the raids caused many people to become homeless and tribe less. This led to people losing their
identity. In addition, such groups became terrorists who lived by war, plunder and hunting for
ivory. They included the “Rugaruga” who began hiring their services as mercenaries to any chief
willing to pay them.
- Ngoni disturbances disrupted normal cultivation leading to famine. There was
widespread famine due to the scotched-earth policy of fighting circumstances, crop could neither
be planted nor harvested, and people were forced to abandon farming.
- They led to insecurity since the new weapons and military tactics increased warfare and
aggression in East Africa.
- The Ngoni intensified slave trade in East Africa, this was because they displaced people
from their homes and so making it easy for slave raiders to catch and sell them.
- It led to increased warfare among the African societies, including those areas that had
been peaceful before.