Amahlubi rise up to shake the core of the Zulu Kingdom

24 Jul 2016


AmaHlubi are taking their fight for recognition of their Kingship to court in a movement that threatens to shake the core of the Zulu Kingdom and may cause a realignment of history and modern day politics.

AmaHlubi’s kingship claim is connected to vast amounts of land across the country and may emerge as one of the largest native groups, like Xhosas, Sothos, Ndebeles, Swazis, Pedis, Shangaans and Tswanas. Anchored by the surname Radebe, the group has under it many clans including well known titles like amaZizi, amaBhele, Mthimkhulu, Bhungane etc.

Rooted in KwaZulu-Natal, north-west of Durban, and into the Eastern Cape, Amahlubi want to secede from the Zulu Kingdom. In their course to break free, they argue that their subjugation, under the Zulu Kingdom, is an anachronistic misnomer, a historically misplacement.

A statue of Shaka Zulu, the emperor who established the Zulu Kingdom in the 1800s

A statue of Shaka Zulu, the emperor who established the Zulu Kingdom in the 1800s

Amahlubi and their king, Langalibalele Radebe II (Muziwenkosi Radebe), are currently positioned as a subset of King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu’s kingdom. That position is arguably an apartheid formation which was ironically elevated in the post 1994 era.

Amahlubi argue that the Nhlapho Commission, appointed by President Thabo Mbeki to investigate and clarify lines of traditional leadership caused their kingship to be relegated into a chieftaincy under the Zulu Kingdom.

They protest on a point of ‘historical fact’. They argue that the Zulu Kingdom was established in the 1800s out of an amalgamation of independent tribal groups, largely through the command of Shaka Zulu’s spear. amaHlubi were never conquered by Shaka Zulu. In fact they were a trusted ally to Shaka Zulu and made an elite military force within the Amabutho. This chapter of history is well recognised by historians who speak of the role of iziYendane, the elite military formation made by amaHlubi, who marched with Shaka Zulu. Amahlubi remained independent through Shaka’s reign and post the error of iLembe. Their Kingdom was destabilized by the colonial regime in the late 1800s when their feisty leader, King Langalibalele. He is largely known as having led one of the earliest rebellions against colonialism. “Lieutenant-Governor Sir Benjamin Pine punished the Hlubi by breaking up their location, confiscating their cattle, and imprisoning Langalibalele on Robben Island. Langalibalele was therefore one of the first Black activists to be banished to Robben Island, nearly a century before Nelson Mandela and numerous other activists were imprisoned there.” (

AmaHlubi have captured their legal claim as follows: “the amaHlubi should be accorded the same status and recognised as a nation, in the same way as amaXhosa, baTswana, amaNdebele etc

“iSilo Langalibalele II should be accorded his rightful status as the King of amaHlubi. As the amaHlubi are now found in both Natal and the Eastern Cape (and some in Rusternburg), the King should be officially recognised in all the areas where there is amaHlubi under a senior traditional leader.”

Hlubi Area

The red circles is rough reflection of areas affected by the amaHlubi claim

They protest that “Langalibalele I, who was king of the amaHlubi until his arrest and deposition in 1873, died under house arrest as a prisoner in 1889. As a result, his successors were never returned to the throne. The consequence of this is that his successor,  Ingonyama Muziwenkosi, Langalibalele II, is categorised by national and provincial government as a chief within the KwaZulu/Natal province, making him and his people in Natal (and elsewhere), subjects of another king. This is despite the fact that he has in excess of twenty (20) senior traditional leaders all over South Africa who pay allegiance to him.”

This claim comes to challenge the declaration that elevated King Goodwill Zwelithini as the only paramount chief of KwaZulu-Natal. This was achieved through the Traditional Leaders and Governance Act, Act 5 of 2005 “that constitutionally guarantees and entrenches the Sovereignty of the Zulu Monarch and the Royal family in KwaZulu Natal.”

Challenging the positioning of the Zulu monarch, comes with political implications with the reigning King Goodwill Zwelithini having moved closer to the ANC of President Jacob Zuma.

29 Responses

  1. Pingback: Amahlubi rise up to shake the core of the Zulu Kingdom | UJUH

  2. Phumzile Mdabuli

    Very good…they must fihgt tooth and
    nail to make sure that they reclaim the Kingdom of Hlubis..100% behind them..

  3. Vuyani Ntanjana

    This is a legitimate claim. The amaHlubi should together for the resporation of their kingship.

  4. Vuyani Ntanjana

    This is a legitimate claim. AmaHlubi should stand together for the restoration of their kingship.

  5. Nandipha

    Our claim as Amahlubi to dignity is indeed justiciable. No research will remove our rightful Annointed heritage claim and it shall be!

  6. Mandla Phangwa

    We are an autonmous nation not Zulu subjects hence we do not recognise the Zulu Kingdom and ours . Amahlubi azimele.

  7. thulani Mdakane

    I agree with AmaHlubi they can’t be under the Zulu king because they are not the Zulus at all

  8. Masibuko

    As far as I know, Hlubis and Amangwe were living arm by arm. Does that mean that we were all the subjects of the Hlubis. No. They were many nations that were inhibiting Northern Natal peaceful. So the Hlubis are going to fail in their challenge.

  9. Thabiso Simelane

    100% Hlubi and Proud I love the Kingdom I love the Zulu King that I grew up knowing but I believe I deserve to know who I truly am I so wish our Kingdoms could unite and love each other share power in our lifetime. We will fight with everything so we can regain our true identity!

  10. Senzo Msimang

    This is time to correct the wrong that white regime did to AmaHlubi. The fight will continue until histroy is rewritten correctly.

  11. John Hanson

    This historic disposition is unfortunate as it appears that the government is not prepared to correct the wrong inflicted upon our people over time by those who came here and made us subjects in our own backyard.
    The other historic misfortune is the failure to acknowledge the reality of the first peoples of the southern tip of Africa, namely the Khoi and the San peoples. The little acknowledgement in the south African coat of arms is to my mind a megre consolation hand out.

  12. Nonhlanhla KaLudidi Ndlovu

    Rise Hlubi Kingdom Rise! Proud to be Hlubi.The winds of change are blowing and the truth shall set everyone free

  13. vusi ngubeni

    Forward mahlubi leadership let reclaim what is ours back and historical should be taught to our current and future children.

  14. Sibusiso Lubando Nkalitshana

    The Government must correct all of this and give back what is rightfully ours, we as the Hlubis are not the subject of any king except our. RISE HLUBI KINGDOM RISE.

    • Mzwandile Nobadula

      Phambili maHlubi mabubuye ubukumkani bethu sizimele singamahlubi. Ulwimi leethu malufundiswe ezikolweni. lungafi.

  15. Lerato Kasa

    The AmaHlubi nation is the indigenous people of Natal were dislocated or driven away by British military forces. The action was driven by economic interests Britain had over the AmahHlubi land which was finally dispossessed on a pure colonial agenda.
    The action compromised indigenous language of AmaHlubi which nearly disappeared/ extinct. But what is surprising is that the intention of colonisation of land and destruction of Kingship is now being perpetuated by our tribal neighbours the Zulus or King Zwelithini for advancement of greediness and territory at the time when we think we are liberated.
    Zulus and AmaHlubi had been living in peace as good neighbours to one another. It should not be a difficult exercise to approve the land claim made by AmaHlubi King Langalibalele II. The struggle waged against the colonial rule and apartheid regime was to liberate blacks in general and Africans in particular surely the definition of the objective of the struggle coming from the ruling party surely the matter must be given an attention it deserve.
    It would only be if the current government is not interested or willing to address, as the matter which had been long outstanding.
    The King of Zulus must confine their land claim and Kingship along the traditional territorial lines within KwaZulu and leave Natal for AmaHlubi nation.
    The Zulu King acts as if he is the heir of Britain over the AmaHlubi land but what has to be noted is that democratic breakthrough of 1994 has brought the benefits and liberation to all South Africans.
    All the languages that are taught at school, there’s no attempts to teach Tekela Language for the Hlubi nation in regions/areas where AmaHlubi are found in large numbers. It is only through the return of land and allowing a space for AmaHlubi nation to practice their culture in peace in their land of birth.
    Please allow me as a subject of AmaHlubi King to quote from the submission to the Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims which states that “Langalibalele I, who was the King of the AmaHlubi until his arrest and deposition in 1873, died under house arrest as a prisoner in 1889. As a result, his successors were never returned to the throne”
    The AmaHlubi are not the subjects of King Zwelithini as were never conquered by Zulus or any nation ever since.
    Culture and language are distinctive to those of Zulus even at the time the British authorities were colonising Natal, the war was clear that it was between AmaHlubi and British authorities.
    In Hershel, Eastern Cape, AmaHlubi can appreciate it when King Langalibalele II addresses them because they are his (King Langalibalele II) subjects. In each province you find more than one King why in KwaZulu/Natal people want to consolidate and extend their power to other areas not falling under their tribal area. It is a perpetuation of colonialism and tribalism for people to be intolerant and aggressive when they are to face reality.
    The question to be answered is that, can the government assign another commission to sort out the land claim and disputes as far as the land claim is concerned in KwaZulu/Natal? Can the government act impartially on the matter to minimise land disputes between the AmaHlubi and the Zulu King? Is the South African President Mr GJ Zuma, tribalistic in his approach as every King complains about the huge chunk of a budget which is being allocated to the Zulu King?
    The understanding is that we are having KwaZulu and Natal combined to form what we call today KwaZulu/Natal meaning it was acknowledged that there are two nations in the province.
    Zulus can continue to practice their culture and traditions in Zulu land while AmaHlubi the great nation can also do the same in their space (Natal) unless it is true that the intention was to establish unfair dominance and to enlarge AmaZulu with other nations.

  16. Alfred Manduleli Simphiwe Mzayiya, Rhadebe

    I am not surprised by the affirmation of the Ntlapo Commission, of the political status quo established and entrenched by colonialism and its agenda. For these simple reasons.

    1. It seems like President Thabo Mbeki almost appreciated his predecessor’s faultlines of empowering the Zulu’s above amaHlubi, and this being something that would benefit the ANC’s political agenda of having the Zulu Monarch as their puppet ruler at the expense of other Kingdom(Kingdom of amaHlubi) in order to use him to control KZN but now this is imploding because lies never endure that long.

    2. In a way it is not that puzzling because Thabo Mbeki a Dlamini who ought to understand his own heritage as a Hlubi himself pledges solidarity which is political above his own blood line. This is a President who denied his own inheritence in Ngqamakwe where he was and still is expected to lead his own clan.

    3. Understanding Thabo as someone who would prefere to embrace the pitfalls of racism, oppression, devide and rule casts a serious aspession to the whole narrative of the MDM (Mass Democratic Movement) and its understanding of its claim to the understanding of the struggle and the liberation project of South Africa/Azania.

    4. To us as amaHlubi the matter does not only stop at this terrible bulling of our King, our Kingdom, the distruction of our culture, and humanity but it also goes deeper and forces us to ask even more uncomfortable questions such as: Was the ANC led by real liberation fighters for the emancipation of all black people?
    If yes why are our Kingdoms still oppresed under its rule? Why this skewed support for certain Monarch and not for others?
    Why Black Culture, the humanity of the indigenous of our country are still something that matters less to the agenda of the rulling party?

    For us this is a very serious indictment which stands at a very high point, and that is asking for justice, the truth and fairness from the rulling ANC and its backers, however it must be understood that even if the oppression and bulling of amaHlubi continues, our lives and existence did not come from the ANC and the party is just a subject of a particular political program which shall definitely seize to exist.

    The Hlubi Nation and its national consciousness shall live for thousands of years regardless of its enemies’ wishful thinking. As it is evident now the bones and the spirits of Bhungane, Mthimkhulu, Rhadebe, Langalibalele are turning and the G-d of truth, lovingkindness, justice and righteousness shall not live our Nation unjustified. Thus says the Hlubi intuition!!

  17. Lerato Kasa

    Mr Aphred Manduleli Simphiwe Mzayiya, Rhadebe – said it all,correct sir (Hlubi)The other important thing is that we should start expressing our views in our own indigenous language.

    • Alfred Manduleli Simphiwe Mzayiya, Rhadebe

      Enkosi Lerato Kasa, siyazithetha wena iilwimi zethu nto nje kukucingela nabanye. Noxa ke nezi sizithethayo ingelwimi zethu kodwa ke ngenye imini (sokhona kutekela ngeskethu)
      I-Nkosi ivuma

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