Ruga Ruga

Ngoni mercenaries

Name ID 944

See also

Map and Guide to Tanzania
Page Number: 03k
Extract Date: 1876 - 1881

'ruga-ruga'

Chief Mirambo, a local warlord, turned the supremacy in long-distance trading and porterage into a political, economic and military system by uniting the numerous Nyamwezi clans into a powerful kingdom in 1870 with its capita) in Urambo.

Between 1876 and 1881 he undertook missions to make alliances with neighbouring rulers and led expeditions to Burundi, the Vinza and Tongwe in the West, the Pimbwe and Konongo in the South, the Nyaturu, Iramba and Sukuma in eastern Tanzania, and to Kabaka Mutesa of Uganda.

Using Ngoni mercenaries - the 'ruga-ruga' - his rule extended from the Northwest Buganda border to Lake Tanganyika and covered the area south of Tabora down to Uvinza. To consolidate his power he made an alliance with the sultan of Zanzibar but constant incidents led to the Sultan withdrawing his support, and Mirambo's kingdom disintegrated after his death in 1884.

He is a national hero and a famous war song honours his memory; Iron Breaks the Head.

Stanley called him the 'Napoleon of Central Africa'.

Extract ID: 4003
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