The Zulu nation originally stemmed from the Nguni clan. According to legend the Nguni were a people who migrated from the north and spread across a large part of southern Africa, absorbing, conquering or displacing many other peoples. They migrated down the east coast of Africa with large herds of Nguni cattle, and finally arrived at the Pongola River where the first significant breakaway by Ngwane, led to the formation of Northern and Southern Nguni groups. The Swazi remained in the north and the Xhosa settled in the south A section of the Northern Nguni people kept on moving south into what is today northern KwaZulu Natal. At some point along their journey, they must have come in contact with the San people, which is why ‘click’ sounds characterize their languages today.
The Zulu nation and their royal genealogy begins with Malandela ka Luzumane who settled in the uMhlatuze River Valley near present-day Eshowe with his son, Ntombela kaMalandela. Ntombela himself had two sons – Qwabe, the eldest, and Zulu, whose name means ‘Heaven’. When Ntombela died, a disagreement developed between Qwabe and Zulu, forcing Zulu to leave the uMhlatuze River Valley with his mother and his people (the Zulus). They crossed over the Melmoth and Mthonjaneni heights into what is now known as the Emakhosini Valley and settled on the banks of the uMpembeni stream, an area just south of the White Umfolozi River. Here, among the tall Euphorbia trees that were to become the symbol of Zulu chieftancy, he established KwaZulu…Place of Heaven. When Zulu finally got married this was the start of a new tribe or clan which became known as Ama Zulu…People of Heaven.