Course of the Ngoni migrations

Course of the Ngoni migrations. The Ngoni left South Africa in two (2) distinct groups.

  • They left around 1820 and each group took a different direction.
  • The first and biggest group was led by chief Zwangendaba.
  • They moved through central Africa crossed R. Zambezi, traveled through Malawi and finally settled around Ufipa were they destroyed the small settlements.
  • The second and smaller group was led by chief Maputo.
  • It moved through Mozambique, Eastern Malawi and finally settled around Songea among the Yao.
  • This group was known as the Maseko Ngoni.
  • Around 1848, Zwangendaba died and his group split into 5 small groups.
  • Three of these groups went back to central Africa settling in present day Malawi and Zambia.
  • The two remaining groups settled permanently in Tanganyika and these were the Tuta and Gwangara Ngoni.
  • The Tuta Ngoni moved northwards to the lands of the Holoholo where they were defeated.
  • They continued up to Nyamwezi land in 1850 where they captured a young Mirambo.
  • The Gwangara Ngoni led by Zulugama moved East wards destroying the Hehe.
  • By 1860, they had reached Songea where they clashed with the Maseko Ngoni whom they defeated and forced them to flee.
  • The defeated Maseko Ngoni split into two groups.
  • One group under chief Maputo moved southwards crossed river Ruvuma and finally settled in Mozambique.
  • The other group fled northwards to Morogoro and these came to be known as the Mbuga Ngoni.
  • During their movements the Ngoni always captured people.
  • The boys were absorbed into their army and girls were married off and this swelled their number.

Reasons why the Ngoni were successful against the people of E.Africa

  • They had a strong army e.g. they always recruited captured boys into their army which strengthened their army.
  • The Ngoni had superior military organization which they had copied from Shaka.
  • Their army was divided into battalions or regiments called Impis for effectiveness in battle.
  • The Ngoni always used Guerilla tactics and this would scare other societies which easily gave up.
  • The Ngoni had superior weapons e.g. the short stabbing spear (Assegai) and they had shields.
  • They had superior tactics of fighting e.g. they surrounded the enemy using the cow-horn method.
  • Ngoni fighters were professionals who had received a lot of military training and were always free from duties at home.
  • The Ngoni were determined to remain in East Africa because they feared to go back to South Africa in case of defeat.
  • The Ngoni invaders were fully united under their leaders and this helped them to defeat the East African societies with a lot of ease.
  • The Ngoni fighters had a lot of experience in warfare because they had participated in large scale wars during their stay in South Africa.
  • The Ngoni always used surprise attacks e.g. at night and on market days hence always caught their enemies unaware.
  • The East African societies were disunited and couldn’t offer any support to their neighbours against the Ngoni.
  • E.African societies had already been weakened by slave trade which had claimed all the strong men.
  • East Africa had also been weakened by attacks from Segeju and Zimba man eaters who also reduced on the population.
  • Ngoni fighters were never affected by famine because they always looted for food wherever they passed.
  • Ngoni also used the scorched Earth policy on those that tried to resist them e.g. Burning villages, food stores, and huts and scared others who simply gave in without a fight.
  • Most of the Ngoni enemies were weak and small societies that were disorganized and therefore could not challenge the Ngoni military might.
  • The East African societies had poor economies that could not sustain the fights against the Ngoni.
  • The East Africans had inferior weapons that could not compete with those of the Ngoni.

Effects of the Ngoni Migration

  • Their migration created a period of wars in areas that were previously peaceful e.g. the Ufipa communities were destroyed and devastated.
  • The Ngoni migration resulted into the spread of epidemic diseases in the southern and central Tanganyika e.g. smallpox and Malaria.
  • Their migration created a new generation of war lords and leaders e.g. Nyungu ya mawe and Mirambo.
  • There was increase in slave trade because of the Ngoni confusion, Chaos and disorganizations.
  • The Ngoni spread their culture e.g. most people who were captured and absorbed by the Ngoni copied their Nguni language.
  • The Ngoni invasion also disrupted the long distance trade caravans especially along the Southern route which was dominated by the Yao.
  • The Ngoni invasion led to the formation of warrior groups e.g. The Maviti and Ruga Ruga .These were bandits who terrorized southern and central Tanganyika.
  • The Ngoni invasion led to the people of southern Tanganyika losing their land to the Ngoni.
  • There was population increase in Southern Tanganyika were they settled e.g. among the Yao.
  • Famine broke out in many societies since no farming and harvesting could take place because of the Ngoni raids.
  • Many people copied the Military tactics i.e. cow horn method and adopted their weapons e.g. Assegai (short stabbing spear) for defense.
  • Their migration led to the decline of some states e.g. Bena and Sangu because they never had the capacity to resist the Ngoni aggression.
  • The Ngoni raids led to heavy loss of lives especially those that tried to resist their movement e.g. the Yao.
  • There was deculturalisation and detribalisation e.g. the Ngoni displaced people from their original homelands making them lose their culture.