Nandi (mother of Shaka)

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Nandi kaBhebhe
Bornc. 1760
DiedOctober 10, 1827 (1827-10-11)
Spouse(s)Senzangakhona kaJama

Nandi (c. 1760 – October 10, 1827) was a daughter of Bhebhe, a past chief of the Langeni tribe and the mother of the famous Shaka, King of the Zulus.

Birth of Shaka[edit]

Shaka's father was Senzangakhona kaJama, King of the Zulu people. Senzangakhona impregnated Nandi out of wedlock and the Mhlongo people demanded Senzangakhona to pay damages. Nandi was on the fore-front of this case and discussion. She personally demanded 50 herd of cattle as payment for damages done to her and the herd was delivered to the Mhlongo people. After giving birth to her son, Nandi initially spent some time at Senzangakhona's kraal before her relationship with Senzangakhona deteriorated, forcing her to leave the kraal. She went to live among her people, the Mhlongo. During that time she also had to protect her son from famine, assassination attempts, and enemies.


Despite the hard times they endured together, or perhaps because of them, Shaka loved his mother almost to the point of worship.[1]

Queen Nandi kaBhebhe died of dysentery on October 10, 1827. According to Donald Morris, Shaka ordered that no crops should be planted during the following year of mourning, no milk (the basis of the Zulu diet at the time) was to be used, and any woman who became pregnant was to be killed along with her husband. At least 7,000 people who were deemed to be insufficiently grief-stricken were executed, although the killing was not restricted to humans: cows were slaughtered so that their calves would know what losing a mother felt like.[2] Her grave can be found outside Eshowe, off the old Empangeni road. The grave is marked Nindi. On March 11, 2011 the Mhlongo Committee met at Eshowe with the Office of the KZN (kwaZulu-Natal) Premier and Amafa about the finalisation of the plans for Princess Nandi's grave near Eshowe. It was agreed that there would be an officially opening day in May 2011 to present Queen Nandi kaBhebhe’s grave after the approval of the designs suggested by abaHlongo. Queen Nandi kaBhebhe was born in Melmoth in 1760 into the Mhlongo people and for that reason it was also agreed that the name on the grave shall be "Princess Nandi Mhlongo, Mother of King Shaka". The Bhebhe and Mhlongo people of eLangeni are one people.


  1. ^ Nandi
  2. ^ Morris, Donald R. (1994) [1965]. The Washing of the Spears: A History of the Rise of the Zulu Nation Under Shaka and Its Fall in the Zulu War of 1879. London: Pimlico. ISBN 978-0-7126-6105-8. P. 99

Further reading[edit]