Zulu people in traditional warrior dress. Image credit wordpress.com

ZIMSEC O Level History Notes: Crisis in Nguniland: Effects of Mfecane on Southern and Central Africa

The effects of Mfecane can be grouped into positive and negative effects

Positive Effects

  • The Mfecane led to the creation of strong centralised new states that is, the Zulu under Shaka, Ngwane Under Sobhuza, Ngoni states, Ndebele and Kololo
  • The military inventions of the Zulu state spread into different parts of Central and Southern Africa
  • Nguni language and culture were also spread into many parts of Central and Southern Africa during the settling of displaced people
  • Also the Nguni people did not only culturally imperialize the people of the places that they settled but they also adopted new cultural practices, for example, the Ndebele adopted the shona’s God Mwari
  • Militarism and strong governance of the Zulu state instilled discipline in its citizens and banditry was less in the Zulu state
  • There was also higher loyalty to the state by Zulu subjects
  • Its led to the emergency of great statesmen who could withstand and adapt to any situation like Shaka, Mzilikazi
  • Mfecane also served as an inspiration into many Nguni leaders to resist colonisation
  • The were military innovations put into effect, for example, regimental system resulted into standing armies in many states
  • It led to the abolition of traditional practices like circumcision
  • Some states united to form stronger states like Kololo kingdom of Sebitwane and Ngwato of Pedi.

Negative Effects

  • Millions of people were killed during this ‘time’ of crushing
  • Many others were displaced after the destruction of their states as refugees
  • Banditry and moral degradation became the order of the day
  • Thousands of livestock was destroyed
  • People could no longer practice farming as there was always fear of displacement so famine set in
  • Population distribution was changed in Southern Africa
  • Large open areas were abandoned and people were crowded in smaller more easily defensible regions
  • Many people fled from Nguniland and settled north among them, Ngoni and Kololo
  • Others set up stronger defensive states for example, Basuto and Bapedi
  • Mfecane also made it easier for Boers to settle in Nguniland
  • Because the Boer had advanced weapons they were able to take land left unoccupied which was considered by the Ngunis as unsecure
  • Mfecane resulted in increased slave trade as the attacks were used by slave traders to raid for slaves

To access more topics go to the History Notes page.