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History of the Thembe - Thonga

The people of Maputaland have a unique history and culture that sets them apart from their Zulu, Swazi and Shangaan neighbours. They call themselves Tembe or Thonga after their founding ancestors who migrated to this area in the middle of the seventeenth century. Tembe established a mighty kingdom, which extended into the Delagoa Bay (Maputo) hinterland. His kingdom stretched from the Pongola (Maputo) River in the west to the Indian Ocean in the east, and from Delagoa Bay in the north to around the Sodwana Bay area in the south.

The Tembe kingdom reached its apex in the late 18th century under King Mabhudu I. Mabhudu, who lent his name to the area and the capital of Mozambique, established a powerful relationship with Shaka of the Zulu, acting as the linkage between the European traders at Delagoa Bay and the kingdoms of the hinterland.

In the late 1800s, European Imperialism took its toll on the Mabhudu Kingdom, when a French President divided the kingdom in order to settle a land dispute between the British and the Portuguese. 

The northern part of the kingdom was awarded to the Portuguese and the southern part to the British. The Portuguese praised the president and named Mozambique's most famous beer, Dois M, in his honour. At first the local people were undeterred by the new colonial border, socialising as easily with Mozambicans and South Africans of their clan



 


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