Nandi (mother of Shaka)

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Nandi kaBhebhe eLangeni
Born c. 1760
Died October 10, 1827 (1827-10-11)
Spouse(s) Senzangakhona kaJama
Children Shaka
Parent(s) Bhebhe

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

Birth of Shaka[edit]

Shaka's father was Senzangakhona kaJama, chieftain of the Zulu clan, which was small and insignificant at the time. Senzangakhona apparently impregnated Nandi during an act of uku-hlobonga, a form of coitus interruptus allowed to unmarried couples at a time known as "the fun of the roads" (ama hlay endlela), but the lovers became carried away.[1] After giving birth to her illegitimate son, Nandi spent many hard years being shuffled back and forth between the Zulus and her own tribe. During that time she also had to protect her son from famine, assassination attempts, and his own destructive temper.


Despite the hard times they endured together, or perhaps because of them, Shaka loved his mother almost to the point of worship.[2]

Nandi died of dysentery on October 10, 1827.

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’s grave after the approval of the designs suggested by abaHlongo. Nandi 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. ^ E. A. Ritter, Shaka Zulu: The Rise of the Zulu Empire, Longmans Green, London, 1955, p.11.
  2. ^ Nandi

Further reading[edit]