When parents give their offspring a name, several factors come into play. Names of Zulu kings, queens, princes, and princesses are rich in symbolism and significance. Here's a look at some notable names from Shaka iLembe.
Princess Mkabayi had realised that the Zulu people were yearning for an heir, and to ensure the continuation of the Zulu lineage and monarch, she courted Mthaniya for her father, King Jama. The king married Mthaniya from the Sibiya clan, and from this marriage came the long-awaited heir, Senzangakhona. The name Senzangakhona derives from isiZulu, meaning “well doer”.
When Nandi, Shaka’s mother, announced her pregnancy, a tribal elder claimed she wasn't pregnant but suffering from a stomach ailment caused by a beetle known in isiZulu medical circles as iShaka. Months later, the Zulu prince was born, and Nandi sarcastically named him Shaka to spite Senzangakhona.
The name Nandi means “the sweet one” in isiZulu. The queen experienced abuse throughout her life, replacing her sweetness with a hot temper. Despite the hardship, she raised her son, Shaka, with the kind of training and guidance a royal heir should have. Nandi has become a symbol of power and strength. To this day, the Nguni people use this name to refer to a woman of high esteem.
Godongwana evaded assassins sent by his father, King Jobe, by fleeing into exile. Against all odds, he later returned as Dingiswayo, meaning “exiled one”, an allusion to the hard times he faced as a wandering outcast.
Remember, when naming your children, you're giving them their first label, the first word that defines them. What are some of your favourite Nguni names?
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