The African continent has had a glorious history, especially on its rulers, particularly from its southern region. Here, we find Shaka Zulu, a king of the Zulu Kingdom in the early 19th century (1816-1828). Afterward, Cetshwayo became a Zulu king in the late 19th century (1873-1879). However, there is one particular African ruler that South African history does not put much weight on, like Shaka Zulu despite being greater than Shaka. His name was Changamire Dombo, who founded the Rozvi Kingdom in the 17th century. We can see that this South African ruler existed even before the great Shaka Zulu.
Brief Description of who Shaka Zulu was
Shaka Zulu was the ruler of the Zulu Kingdom, as mentioned above. He was one of the most significant rulers of the Zulu Empire, accountable for re-organizing the Zulu army into a remarkable force through a sequence of reforms. Shaka improved the Ibutho military system and built relationships with his neighbors to respond to the increasing threat from Ndwandwe raids.
Dingane and Mhlangana, Shaka’s half-siblings, planned to assassinate the Zulu king.
Other Zulu Kingdom Rulers
Apart from the Great Shaka Zulu and Cetshwayo being Zulu Kingdom rulers, there were also significant Zulu Empire kings. They are Senzangakhona kaJama, Dingane ka Senzangakhona Zulu, Mpande kaSenzangakhona, Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo, Cyprian Bhekuzulu Nyangayezizwe kaSolomon, and King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu.
Senzangakhona kaJama was a chief or ruler of the Zulu clan and majorly remarkable as the father of three Zulu rulers who reigned when the Zulus got prominence. Senzangakhona was born in the 18th century (1762) and died in 1816. His father was King Jama kaNdaba, and his mum was Queen Mthaniya Sibiya. He succeeded on his father’s demise. During the chieftainship of Senzangakhona, the Zulus were a small clan in the Mthethwa federation, which Dingiswayo ruled. The name of Senzangakhona comes from the Zulu word meaning ‘he who acts with a good reason.’ Although the Zulu people practiced ritual initiation or circumcision, the practice was gradually dying out. Shaka and Senzangakhona did not undergo circumcision.
Dingane ka Senzangakhona Zulu, commonly called Dingaan or Dingane, was a Zulu ruler (chief) who became a King of the Zulu Empire in the 19th century. He established his royal capital (uMgungundlovu) and one of several army encampments in the Emakhosini valley. Dingaan came to the throne in 1828 after killing his half-bro, Shaka, with the aid of Mbopa, Shaka Zulu’s bodyguard. According to oral history, the half-siblings of Shaka assassinated him because of his brutal behavior after the demise of his loving mother, Nandi. The assassination took place at modern-day Stanger.
In January 1840, Pretorius and an army of more than 350 Boers aided Mpande in his rebellion against Dingane, which resulted in the latter’s demise and loss of control. At the Battle of Maqongqo, many of Dingane’s men deserted to Mpande’s men.
Dingane was the reason why his general, Ndela kaSompisi, lost his life. Later, Dingane and his followers sought refuge in the Nayawo area on the mountains of Lubombo. A group of Swazi and Nyawo killed him in Hlatikhulu Forest. Mpande succeeded him as a king. The grave of Dingane is near Ingwavuma in the Hlatikhulu Forest.
Mpande was a king of the Zulu Empire from 1840 to 1872. Mpande is the longest-reigning Zulu king in history. He was a half-brother of Sigujana, who preceded him as a Zulu King. Though his reign was long, he was a ruler or King in name only during the latter part of his rule. Cetshwayo, his son, became a de facto king in the mid-19th century (1856).
Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo was the ruler or monarch of the Zulu state from May 20th, 1884, until his demise in the early 20th century (1913). He succeeded Cetshwayo, his father.
Cyprian Bhekuzulu Nyangayezizwe kaSolomon, born on August 4th, 1924, was the Zulu state ruler from 1948 until his demise at Nongoma on September 17th, 1968. He succeeded King Solomon kaDinuzulu, his father, after a long succession conflict or dispute, which cooled off in 1944. Arthur Mshiyeni kaDinuzulu, Cyprian’s uncle, operated as regent during the succession conflict. Goodwill Zwelethini kaBhekuzulu, Cyprian’s son and current King as of 2020, succeeded his father, Cyprian Bhekuzulu. Cyprian’s daughter, Princess Nomusa kaBhekuzulu, was regent Queen to AmaRharhabe, a Xhosa subgroup, as Queen Noloyiso after the demise of her husband.
King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu was born on July 27th, 1948, at Nongoma. He is the ruling King of the Zulu state under the Traditional Leadership clause of SA’s Republican constitution.
in January 2012, while making a speech at a function honoring the 133rd anniversary of the Battle of Isandlwana, the ruler caused controversy with his words that same-sex relationships were rotten. The LGBT rights groups and the South African Human Rights Commission condemned the King’s statements. Ex-president Jacob Zuma condemned the King for his words. In September the same year, the King requested the KwaZulu-Natal authorities for over 15 million Rands to establish new property, including a new palace for his wife Queen Mafu and upgrades to Queen MaMchiza’s royal place. Mduduzi Mthembu, the King’s noble household department CFO, told a parliamentary board that the money was urgent. The department also asked for $1.4 million for enhancements to Queen MaMchiza’s palace. The authority had already allocated over $6 million for the noble family. In 2008, opposition parties condemned King Goodwill’s wives for spending more than $20,000 on designer clothes and lavish holidays.
The Rozvi Empire and Changamire’s Background
Here I will try to explain where Changamire came from and the conditions under which he formed his Empire. Dombo established the Rozvi Kingdom on the Zimbabwean Plateau. The name Rozvi refers to their legacy as a warrior state. In 1683, the Portuguese army attempted to wrest control of the gold trade in the continent’s interior by attacking the Rozvi Kingdom. The Rozvi defeated these attacks and maintained their power over the gold mines. Changamire Dombo and his son were the leaders of Rozvi. The Rozvi arose from various Shona states.
Now, before Changamire created his Empire of Rozvi rulers, the Mutapa Empire was the main stable state in the area. However, due to succession disputes and the royal claimants to the throne seeking Portuguese military assistance, the Empire started declining. The Portuguese then took advantage and influenced a greater portion of the state’s politics. According to history, the Portuguese could capture the Mutapa throne because Changamire Dombo did not get involved.
It was at this point that the Rozvi Empire was going to rise. The local Shona men decided to retaliate against the Europeans. This is where a man called Dombo, who was once a herdsman in the Mutapa state, positioned himself as a Shona warlord after the Mutapa Empire became powerless. After defeating the Portuguese, he gained respect from people and received the title of Changamire (Lord). Later, a powerful army called Rozvi came into existence, and the Rozvi Kingdom rose.
Changamire continued to increase his power by defeating other Empires, destroying capitals, and absorbing other native Shona people. According to oral tradition, people believe that Changamire Dombo had supernatural abilities. People feared the magical power that helped him earn more respect and followers.
The political system for Rozvi was hierarchical, and kingship followed a male line. The ruler was the highest religious, political, military, and social authority. An advisory council consisting of officials that the king appointed aided him to govern. Some of the advisory council officials were the king’s senior wives, the crown prince, religious heads, and military leaders.
Technology and Economy of the Rozvi Kingdom
The Rozvi rulers restored the practice of building in stone and built marvelous cities. The Empire had several economic divisions or branches, but agriculture was its backbone. They planted sorghum and millet, and the state relied on subsistence farming. Livestock was also another vital agricultural division. They reared sheep, goats, chickens, and cattle. Like other cultures, the people in this state considered those who had a lot of livestock to be extremely rich.
The Empire practiced both external and internal trade since the trade was a crucial economic activity. They obtained imported items such as guns and salt from outside traders, and in return, they exchanged ivory and gold.
The economic power of the Rozvi Kingdom was based on cattle wealth, farming, and the mining of gold. The Portuguese accounts reveal that the Rozvi were complex army tacticians. They were employing the cow-horn formation years before Shaka Zulu embraced it during his reign.
Indeed, Changamire Dombo was one of the greatest African rulers. Unfortunately, people have not paid much more attention to his contributions to South African history development. Therefore, as a challenge, we all ought to do our research to determine what was more important than the other in the African continent.
Other Rulers of the Rozvi Empire
Apart from the great Changamire Dombo, the Rozvi Kingdom has also had some notable rulers. Some of these rulers are Mambo Chirisamhuru, Mambo Mutinhima, Changamire Tohwechipi Chibamubamu, Mambo Chingombe, and Tumbare. Others were Chingombe Mudavanhu, Mutanda Ngabate, a female ruler, Gumboremvura, Rupengo, and Chinomona.