Amahlubi rise up to shake the core of the Zulu Kingdom


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.

This piece was lifted from ProBonoMatters

  • 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.

  • We therefore urge the president to do the right thing by recognizing the amaHlubi King, King Langalibalele II, His rightful position before his term comes to an end. Because this not resolved may bring more tension and further divide SOUTH AFRICA.

  • After the removal of Jacob Zuma as the ANC President, this matter must be taken up with President incoming to resolve this matter

  • It is painful that the great grand parent of kingdoms and clans is undermined and sabotaged and forcefully subjected to kingdom that started in 1800,All Amahlubi/Amampembe in parliament have to bring this matter regardless of their political affiliations,our history is not a forgery since the beginning of bantu migration from great lakes.

  • Gcobani Mgibantaka

    I’m Ndlovu,Malunga, Gengezi in Gcaleka land. I’m so happy and concerned at the same time about failed Nhlapho commission and wonder if the current claim is registered formally in a legitimate institutions if so who are the stakeholders involved…I want to follow this as I’m proud to be Hlubi regardless of staying in Gcaleka land of Zwelonke

  • I am Nkosinathi Emmanuel ka-Kadalie Hadebe and am also concerned about the kingship of of amaHlubi since the history about the Hlubi tribe is clearly and well known to all South African indigenous people.I,as a 100 percent Hlubi’s son of soil fully support the recognition and reinstatement of Hlubis land and kingship if we as South Africans truly and honestly mean a free and fair democratic state.We urge the government under the leadership of president Cyril Ramaphosa to reconsider this for the sake of the true reflection of the equality of South African citizens and fairness to all the people who have been discriminated and colonised under the apartheid regime.

  • We must write to the president informing him about our grievance. Our representatives must meet ANC & EFF To raise these issues

  • I’m Matseliso Malefu Selina (Lee) born MALOI , as I grew up I was worried about my surname thinking mebbe it was a mistake, maybe it was Moloi, even my parents could not 100% relinquish my thirst for my identity. One day I asked my grandfather about our origin and the surname ,he told me about a war that took place in Natal with the boers and him and his brothers ran away , some went to Transvaal and some to Transkei ( as it was called by then) . Some changed their surname to Maloyi and others Maloi. I still want to meet my real clan because when my grandfather , my father and some of my sibling pass on, on the program it’s always “Rest in peace Mthimkulu , Radebe, Langalibalele.I really yearn to see the place where most of my clan is. I’ve been to Herschel but my journey is not complete yet- some pieces are still missing. Can someone of my roots help me!

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