Rharabe aPhalo, Right Hand House son, Xhosa Chief, 'father of the Ciskei'

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Rharabe aPhalo, Right Hand House son, Xhosa Chief, 'father of the Ciskei'

Birthdate: (60)
Death: 1782 (56-64)
near present day Dohne, Dohne in the present day Eastern Cape Province. (died in battle against the Thembu)
Immediate Family:

Son of Phalo and NN (mother of Rharhabe), Right Hand Wife of Phalo
Husband of NN Great House wife of Rharhabe and Nojoli kaNdungwana of Thembu
Father of Bede; Mlawu kaRharhabe, Great House Son; Cebo ka Rarabe; Ntsusa ka Rarabe; Mnyaluza ka Rarabe and 7 others
Half brother of Lutshaba aPhalo; Langa aPhalo, Chief of the amaMbalu; Gcaleka kaPhalo, Great House Son, King of the Xhosa, 'father of the Transkei' and Nukwa aPhalo

Managed by: Sharon Lee Doubell
Last Updated:

About Rharabe aPhalo, Right Hand House son, Xhosa Chief, 'father of the Ciskei'

The sons of Phalo were

Through their rivalry they would lead to the split of the Xhosa nation and set the stage for one of the dramas of Southern Africa.

Rharhabe ka Phalo (about 1722-1782) - AmaRharhabe

Rharhabe was the founder of Rharhabe sub-group of the Xhosa nation. And the 2nd son of Phalo. Rharhabe died near present day Dohne in the Eastern Cape Province. He is known to have had at least two wives. He had 8 sons from his first wife:

and a daughter

and from his second wife, Nojoli kaNdungwana of the Thembu he had two sons:

Mlawu d1782

Ngqika 1778-1829

Although Gcaleka was the rightful heir to Phalo’s kingdom, Rharhabe developed a reputation (and a large following) as a fearless warrior. Eventually, rivalry between the two brothers resulted in civil war. Rharhabe was defeated and forced to flee west of the Kei River. There, he established a kingdom among the Xhosa currently living there. Unfortunately, this region was heavily populated and Rharhabe’s arrival caused quite a bit of turmoil. Smaller clans defeated in battle were forced to settle elsewhere as Rharhabe sought to consolidate his power. Rharhabe and his heir, Mlawu, were both killed during this period, and control of the clan transferred to Mlawu’s son, Ngqika.

Although the clan took Ngqika’s name, he was too young to rule. As with Xhosa tradition, Rharhabe’s other son, Ndlambe, served as ruler until Ngqika matured. As second son, Ndlambe had title, but no real authority–as soon as he was old enough, Ngqika would take over. Nevertheless, he supervised a major expansion in the size and power of the clan (now called the Ngqika). By the late 1700s, this expansion resulted in the inevitable contact with the European settlers in Cape Colony. Both the Africans and Europeans depended on cattle as the fundamental economic asset. Thus, both groups competed for the prime grazing lands located west of the Great Kei river. In addition to fighting over grazing lands, raiding parties on both sides stole cattle and other livestock. The number and severity of the conflicts increased rapidly. By 1779, the situation had deteriorated beyond repair. Over the next 25 years, three Xhosa wars broke out. While these were mainly border skirmishes, they did cause more distrust between the Xhosa and Europeans. One noteworthy development during this period was the short-term alliances between Ndlambe and the Dutch settler (or Boers). In 1793, Ndlambe sought to defeat the remaining Xhosa clans west of the Kei River. This would make the Ngqika clan the paramount clan in the region and a major threat to their Gcaleka cousins to the east. This Second Frontier War was not much of a war at all. The Boers, eager to stop constant cattle raids, mounted a concerted attack and drove several smaller clans out of the lands west of the Groot-Vis River. There, Ndlambe waited with his armies and routed his fleeing cousins. The border situation might have died down, but for the fact that young Ngqika was now eighteen, and ready to assume the throne. Ndlambe, of course, was not so willing to give up power, so he appealed to the clan. When this didn’t work, he and his followers sought assistance from the Gcaleka , west of the Kei River. The Gcaleka , fearing the new Chief Ngqika would seek to rekindle and old rivalry, decided to support Ndlambe, and sent a small detachment to assist him and his followers. In a legendary battle, Ngqika defeated the force and took Ndlambe prisoner. The plot thickened in 1795, when the British took control of the cape. Now an undisputed world power, the British colonial empire spread from South America to East India. They viewed their South African possessions the same way they viewed their other possessions–a resource to be mined. When the local population interfered with this endeavor, the population was unseated. They took this attitude to Ngqika with a suggestion that the Xhosa clans west of the Groot-Vis River relocate east to help resolve the border disputes. Ngqika happily agreed, knowing full well he had no authority over these groups...

The Story of Ntlazi and Ndaba as Kings of the abaThembu

Tato's senior son and heir was Zondwa who, it would seem, died around his forties and was outlived by his father. Zondwa died without apportion his various houses (ukwaba). The process of ukwaba is significant because the heir and senior son was determined from it. The story goes that it was during Rarabe's visit to Tato that he enquired from the Thembu king who of his two grandsons, Ntlazi and Ndaba, would be king. Tato replied that Ndaba, the younger boy, could not be king as he was "naughty" (Sihele, p 22). Rarabe's response was that the naughtiness was a good sign and Ndaba should be king.

Ntlazi ascended the throne upon Tato's demise. In the meantime, Rarabe had sent his daughter, Bede, to wed Ndaba. But Ndaba was involved in mischief whereupon the amaNdungwane took up arms against him and the young prince had to flee to the land of the Xhosa King Gcaleka. He got into trouble there as well and eventually found himself resident at his father-in-laws homestead in Rarabe's land. Sooner or later there was trouble there and Ndaba sent word to his brother King Ntlazi to come and rescue him Ntlazi nominated his son, Nkosiyane, in the company of the Qwathi chief, Fubu, to proceed to Rarabeland to rescue Ndaba. The mission was accomplished and various cattle of the Xhosa were raided and driven to the Transkei by Fubu and Nkosiyane. It is important to note that Ndaba never returned to the royal homestead in Mqanduli where Ntlazi was king but, on Fubu's insistence, he was settled along the Mbashe River, in close proximity to the amaQwathi chief. Ntlazi continued to be king of abaThembu until it became clear that Ndaba was being established along the Mbashe River as a parallel king. The creation of the parallel Thembu kingdom along the Mbashe River created a lot of commotion among abaThembu and it is at this stage that Xhoba, the head of the right-hand house of the late King Dlomo, led his descendants out of royal district of Mqanduli and trekked eastwards. He settled on the eastern banks of the Tsomo River, north of the present town of Tsomo. Xhoba was followed by a few other Thembu clans, inter alia, amaNdungwane amd amaGcina. http://speedydeletion.wikia.com/wiki/Draft:AmaTshatshu

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