Mkabayi kaJama, Regent Princess of the Zulus

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Mkabayi kaJama, Regent Princess of the Zulus

Death: circa 1840 (71-88)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Jama kaNdaba, King of Zulus and NN
Sister of Mmama kaJama
Half sister of Senzangakhona kaJama, King of the Zulus; Phalo kaJama; Mawa kaJama; Nobongaza kaJama; Keke kaJama and 8 others

Managed by: Sharon Doubell
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Mkabayi kaJama, Regent Princess of the Zulus

Mnkabayi (Mkabayi) c1760-c1840

She was the elder sister of the Zulu chief Senzagakhona, for whom she acted as a co-regent during his youth (c1780s) She remained unmarried in order to retain her political independence. She closely supported her brother during his long reign, and became very friendly with his wife, Nandi, whom her brother rejected. When Senzagakhona died in c1815, Mnkabayi encouraged Nandi's son, Shaka to seize power. Mnkabayi is believed to have blamed Shaka for the death of his mother, Nandi in 1827. She encouraged two other nephews, Dingane n Mhlangana, to overthrow him the following year. Afterwards, she persuaded Dingane to eliminate his co-conspirator. She was last reported alive - a very old woman - in 1835.

Dictionary of African Historical Biography by Mark R Lipschutz, R Kent Rasmussen

Mkabayi kaJama was the daughter of Jama kaNdaba chief of the Zulu clan from 1763 – 1781. Mkabayi had a twin sister and according to Zulu custom one of the twins had to be sacrificed to avoid bad luck that would result in the death of one of the parents. Jama refused and consequently his wife died without bearing him a successor. Mkabayi devoted her life to looking after her father and various succesors of the Zulu Kingdom in gratitude to her father for sparing her life.As her father was aging and had no succesor she courted Mthaniya Sibiya for her father without his knowledge. Mthaniya bore him a son named Senzangakona (we have done accordingly) who succeeded him after Jamas death in 1781.

Jamas grave is on the farm Heelgoed that lies within the Emakosini Valley. (The Valley of the Kings)The farm was sold to the Amalfa Historical Society by Mr.,W.H.Els in 1996.

Mkabayi remained a influential figure in the life of her brother King Senzangakona, and his son, King Shaka, King Dingane and King Mpande. In fact she was so influential, the most famous phrase was: Buzani ka Mkabayi, meaning, consult Mkabayi for any solution


academic paper on perceived oppression of zulu women in folklore - including a section analysing mkabayi's praise poetry

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Mkabayi kaJama, Regent Princess of the Zulus's Timeline