The town is 61km north of Mthatha and was founded in 1876. The name is of isiXhosa origin, derived from amazimba aqumbu, ‘the corn has budded’, or ‘the corn is swollen’, referring to a tribal war which occurred at that time of the year. It is also known by its Tribal fights during the 18th century, where Chief Mhlontlo was accused of killing the then Missioner Mr Hamilton Hope who helps in the foundation of the town Magistrate court. Mhlontlo was lately arrested in King Williams Town. Qumbu was the first place in the Eastern Transkei homeland to have a Hospital named Sulenkama founded by the Missioner Mr Peterson. It lies on the north-east side of the Eastern Cape provincial border alongside the N2 route between Mthatha and Mt Frere, and the R396 between Tsolo and Maclear. It is bordered by King Sabata Dalindyebo Local Municipality to the south, Nyandeni Local Municipality to the east, Umzimvubu Local Municipality to the north 
The nearest hospital is Nessie Knight Hospital.