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SOTOBE, Ka Mpangalala

Born: fl. 1828
Died: before 1856

Architect


Sometimes spelt SOTHOBE.

Was a mature man in 1839, and the same age group as Jama (who built Nobamba, an important homestead in Zululand) - 'we used to herd large numbers at Ndlovana before Senangakhona was born ... of the Sibiya people was one of Shaka's principal izinduna and held high office under Dingane ... he was a very big man, with a headring right at the back of his head ... he had eyes always red ... he was not really ugly but his head was peculiar'. He was sent by Tshaka over the sea to go and find out what the English people's home was like ... this mission took place in 1828 ... He had many followers ... occasionally killed people ... no one reported him to the King. The Ngcolosi and Cele are tribes attacked by Sothobe ... was induna at Intontela. He was excused from going out on a campaign on the ground that he could count cattle. He could look at a herd and state the exact number at a glance. He once did this and his estimate was put to the test by dividing up and actually counting the stock. He was found to be correct' (Mayinga ka Mbekuzana, vol. 2. Stuart Archives: 253-54). There is more in that vein; he was evidently something of a 'pet' with the Kings, both Shaka and Dingane.

'He was called by Dingana, who ordered him to call together his tribe and go and build an umuzi for Dingana ... They cut timber for the umuzi and built it under Sotobe's superintendance. (I forget the name of it.) On the day this kraal was being finished (the top of the fence was being trimmed)', evidence given to J Stuart by Mageza ka Kwefunga. There is no evidence that Sothobe was in the habit of directing building operations for his people but he is recorded to have done so in this case and is therefore included here, as an 'architect' in a broad sense. His gift for estimating and general character seems to have suggested to Shaka his suitability for this embassy. The company, conducted by Captain King, travelled no further that Port Elizabeth where they were exhaustively interrogated by Henry Cloete. Sothobe returned to Zululand to find Shaka had just been assassinated, Dingane being the new King to whom Sothobe owed allegiance. Sothobe outlasted King Dingane and was to die at a fairly ripe old age, a legend in his own way.

(Stuart Archives vos 2,3,4; Bryant, AT. Olden Times in Zululand and Natal. 1929; Bryant, AT. A History of the Zulu and neighbouring Tribes. 1964)

All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.