Queen of Zulu, Nandi Bhebhe was born in 1760, in Melmoth, South Africa.
Out of wedlock, Nandi Bhebhe got pregnant for Senzangakhona, son of Jama and the people of Mhlongo demanded he pay to amend his non-traditional act. The Mhlongo people carried Nandi along with them to Jamas to settle the matter.
About 55 herds of cattle was given to the Mhlongo people by the Jamas to settle the damages.
Nandi Bhebhe finally gave birth to a son and named him Shaka to mock Senzangakhona and Mudli, a senior relative of him that earlier claimed she was not pregnant but having stomach complications from ishaka beetle. She at times do call Shaka, Umlilwana which means ‘little blazing fire.’
After the birth of Shaka, Nandi Bhebhe, moved in with Senzangakhona. The relationship was not favorable so she had to return to her people leaving Shaka with Senzangakhona after much humiliation and rejection by the people especially the women.
Having worries about Shaka’s life Senzangakhona’s place, Mudli took him back his mother.
In 1802, there was a great famine so she moved to Qwabe, and met Gendeyana and bore him a son they named Ngwadi.
The relationship went sour and she had to leave with her children; Shaka, Nomcoba (which she bore with Senzangakhona) and Ngwadi and settled at Mthethwa.
The people of Mthethwa, under the leadership of Dingiswayo gave her a warm welcome.
Her son, Shaka joined Chwe’s regiment, there he learnt military. He grew up strong and fearless and attained higher ranks. Before Dingiswayo’s assassination in 1817, he named Shaka his successor.
In 1815, after Senzangakhona’s death, Shaka forcefully took the Zulu chieftainship and ruled along with her mother, Nandi.
Known by her bad tempers, she carried out revenge on her enemies. She and Shaka built a strong military force and had also, female regiment which was an idea from Nandi.
On October 10th 1827, Nandi Bhebhe died of dysentery and Shaka declared the longest mourning duration of three months and mandated that nothing was to be planted, and all mils were to be thrown away.
He had all pregnant women killed along with their husbands. He had all cows killed so their calves would know the pain in losing a mother.
He ordered that all his mother’s female servants be buried along with his mom and set more than ten thousand soldiers to guide the grave for a year.
Not less than seven thousand people lost their lives.
With the terror he unleashed, his mother’s close friend, Mnkabayi plotted a successful coup with Dingane, stepbrother to Shaka.
After the coup which saw the death of Shaka, Dingane took over the chieftaincy of Zulu in 1828.