The Ngoni were Bantu-Nguni speaking people of Northern Zululand in South East Africa. They were originally Ndwandwe people under Zwides leadership. But when Shaka defeated Zwide, one part of his group, the Ngoni moved to East Africa under Zwangendaba. The reasons to the the Ngoni to seccess in defeating the people of East Africa are:-
(a) The Ngoni came in big numbers and were strong. On their way they absorbed or fought off the people they encountered, capturing young men for warriors and young women for wives.
(b) They had good military organization with age-regiments called “impis”. (strong army).
(c) The Ngoni had a large, well-trained and disciplined army. They were grouped in age-regiments which were maintained for long periods. The Ngoni did not cultivate but rather lived by plundering from others. This enabled them to have a standing army always ready for battle.
(d) They had superior weapons such as the short stabbing spear (Assegai) and big cowhide shields, which only left a soldier’s face exposed to the enemy, protected the warriors. Instead of the long-throwing spears which had to be thrown one by one, the Ngoni adopted short-stabbing spears and clubs known as Assegai, copied from Shaka the Zulu.
(e) On the other hand their enemies used long –throwing spear. They used these for close hand to hand combat, and the warriors could be protected by large cow-hide shields which left only a warrior’s face exposed to the enemy.
(f) They had superior military tactics such as the cow horn method (semi-circle), which was unfamiliar in E. Africa. They fought in organized age-regiments and could attack their enemies using the cow-horn formation. They also chose clear open spaces for fighting and liked attacking their enemies by night.
(g) They met small and fragmented societies, which were unable to challenge their military organization. Slave trade had undermined most of the communities of Southern Tanzania.
(h) The Ngoni were successful due to their determination. They were determined to conquer and obtain places for settlement. This was due to the fact that they were already being chased away from their homeland, and their only alternative was to get determined and fight any people they came across.
(i) The East African people were caught unaware and therefore did not offer much résistance. The Ngoni were successful because the local people whom they were fighting with were so weak and lived in small groups, which could not resist/challenge the sudden and unexpected Ngoni invasions.
Disunity among the East African people living in isolated societies, made it easy for the Ngoni to defeat them. The inhabitants were living in isolated societies which made it easy for the Ngoni to defeat them.
(j) The Ngoni were fully united under their commanders. They were successful because of their unity and solidarity. They mixed freely with the non-Ngoni speaking people.
(k) They had strong military leaders e.g. Zwangendaba, Induna and Maputo who were able to unite and command the Ngoni.
(l) Applied the scorched earth policy hence taking people unaware. They burnt and destroyed crops.
(m) They used assimilation policy, i.e. they absorbed the people they defeated. They would force the captured men from other tribes to join them and become Ngoni warriors.
(n) They also made themselves fearful to their enemies by wearing the skeletons of their victims.