Mlangeni Clan Names History and Origin

There was little consistency among the brotherhood links acknowledged at the time of my fieldwork, for instance the apparent cibale between Ngwane and Nkosi did not form prior to Ngoni migration.

Phama and Nhlane appear to have an interdependent relationship which is unlikely to exist in Ngoni; nonetheless, my informants were insistent that these names be included among Swazi clans.

Mlangeni Clan Names

  • Mlangeni
  • Mkhungo
  • Gambu
  • Mphephethwa
  • Ndlela kaSompisi
  • Ntsele
  • Gambu kaMkhungo
  • Mgidi
  • Hlombe
  • Zondo

Mlangeni Clan Origin

Clan names underwent significant variation due to subtle shifts in pronunciation as European influences spread into an area, which contributed to a decreased in phonological stability; examples include Nhlane becoming Nsani; Pahla becoming Pasa; and Mhlambi changing into Msambi; leading to numerous clans sharing one name, though not always linked by lineage.

Ngoni clan hierarchy was not as precise as that of Maravi; nevertheless, emperors made exceptions for themselves when necessary. For example, in royal villages and chiefs’ villages it was common practice to hire officials from clans not exclusive to Swazis or trans-Zambesis, as well as members of ruling aristocracy; this led to intermarriages between both sets of clans on official levels; marriages were common between clans of equal rank; especially between girls and men who shared positions on ceremonial occasions.

Clans were considered the primary social unit in any community, as evidenced by their respectable heads. Individuals without clans would typically appear at head villages demanding food and beer; yet large numbers of intermediate people often claimed membership to one clan and then switched over to another; it wasn’t unusual for these intermediate people to produce lists of clans from which they originated.

Mlangeni Clan Meaning

People whose clan names appear in historical collections typically left an indelible mark on society, often as pioneers in art, education or science; some even became active political players within their country of origin; explorers or soldiers served with distinction; while some have become law enforcement professionals and policemen; among them are many with Mlangeni surnames found within such collections.

Ngoni custom did not dictate that individual clan names be categorized into tribes; rather, the Ngoni often saw their clans more as classes than tribes; this was particularly prevalent when it came to those alleged to be Swazi – this position cannot be challenged; for instance the names Njobvu and Ndlela, meaning elephant, are linked by Bryant to an isitakazelo in Cunu; however in Cewa the phoneme dl has changed into j, making any potential linkage with Ndlovu unproveable via genealogical means.

General consensus dictated that a leader of a clan, known as a mulumuzana, should possess knowledge of his clan’s genealogy and possess their ancestor’s name. Clan ancestor shrines would typically be located within their village head village for prayers to them at special rites; this connection between an ancestor and its clan wasn’t always strictly followed – there may have been instances in which someone claimed they were Mulumuzana without an official genealogy being provided, yet their claim was accepted without questioning.

Mlangeni Clan Etymology

Mlangeni were clan names given to certain chiefs of the southern kingdom who did not belong to the royal clan and therefore could not attend an Antumuzana gathering. For such clansmen to qualify as Mulumuzana they needed a well-documented genealogy, allowing the Antumuzana to call on them for prayers at their head village where their lineage would be read out aloud and prayers offered up to them by attending Antumuzana meetings.

Clansmen and petty chieftains recognized these people, including them in their groups of mourners. Unfortunately, though they could take part in funeral services alongside their wives and children in one grave. Furthermore, they did not take part in the antumuzana cult as much or receive gifts like other clansmen did.

Due to linguistic changes, hl-sounds that were present in Ngoni have now transformed to become s in Malawian dialect. This change applies particularly for Nhlane which now becomes Nsani and Pahla which now becomes Pasa, while not being found among Ndlela or Ndlovu which both retain hl sounds.

Some writers, including Bryant (1929), assert that the Ngoni migration split off south of the Zambesi river and that its kingdom initially fell under Jele clan control, though this seems highly improbable. Instead, more likely is that Ngoni migration merged with group of clans from north-east Natal led by Ngwana who was then their leader.

Mlangeni Clan Variations

Mlangeni is the 2,293,424th most prevalent family name worldwide and most frequently occurs in South Africa.

On the march or shortly after settlement, clan names could have easily dispersed, with some becoming part of others and others merging together; this appears to have happened for a number of clans listed by Kuper and Bryant but not included in his second list. Furthermore, it could be that clan names and isitakazelo (ceremonial or address names) became confused or forgotten altogether, and one was replaced with another without recording either new one as clan name replacements.

This may explain the absence of clan names such as Ngawanga, Nzunga and Phungwako from category D but their appearance in category 2; or it could explain Kambule and Msimango existing together only in Malawi but not Swaziland or Ndwandwe (although both clans are considered Jena). Bryant mentions Nyamazani (not present in category D but appearing elsewhere), suggesting it may have been acquired during an army march from Tsonga clan members and then integrated into Ngoni clan membership through paronomasia or adoption – thus explaining his absence in category 2.

Similar issues could have arisen with other clans found in southern lists. Gausi could simply reflect changes to pronunciation which masked its original identity, just as Gcabashe, which once served as an Nguni clan name and has now changed into Gausi.

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