Induna (plural: izinduna), is a Zulu word, which is a title meaning advisor, great leader, ambassador, or commander of group of warriors. We mostly find these people in rural areas which is commanded by a Chief and it is sub-divided into sections (izigodi). Each section is represented by its democratically elected candidate, who is a messenger and a co-ordinator.
The name induna or izinduna can also mean spokesperson or mediator as izinduna often act as a bridge between the people and the king. (African spirituality that shapes the concept of Ubuntu, by M J S Masango, page 6). The title was reserved for senior officials appointed by the king or chief, and was awarded to individuals held in high esteem for their qualities of leadership, bravery or service to the community. (Induna Award) (About.Com) The izinduna would regularly gather for an indaba to discuss important issues.
Amongst the Ndebele people (Zimbabwe) Ndebele the term was also used to collectively refer to a group of elite soldiers operating under a specific induna. (See Ndebele/Shona Rebel Armies of 1896 by Dennis Bishop for examples)
The term has found widespread use in South African English and Afrikaans, and it is a common reference to boss or lead person. (Post-Colonial Workplace Regimes in the Engineering Industries of South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, by Andries Bezuidenhout). In modern times the terms Chairperson and induna are sometimes used interchangeably. (See Social Assessment of the Amangwane Community Campsite Project, by Priscilla Wendy Grimster Maud for examples.)
Notable izinduna in History
Leander Starr Jameson, a British physician, was awarded the title of induna by the Matabele chief Lobengula after he had successfully treated the chief’s gout.
Mbopha was an induna serving under Shaka. He was one of the main conspirators in Shaka’s assassination by his half-brothers Dingane and Umhlangana.
Ndlela kaSompisi was a key general to Zulu Kings Shaka and Dingane, and also served as Dingane’s inDuna – his chief advisor. Ndlela repeatedly defied Dingane’s request that he assassinate Mpande, half-brother of Shaka and Dingane. By this refusal he had preserved the blood line of the Zulu monarchy, as all subsequent Zulu kings were from Mpande’s blood line. He was strangled to death for his insubordination.
Ntshingwayo Khoza, Ntshingwayo kaMahole was the second in command (induna) of Cetshwayo kaMpande-King Cetshwayo’s Army. He was the commanding general who defeated the encamped British Army at the Battle of Isandlwana.
Nathaniel Isaacs, a British adventurer, was awarded the title induna (Principal Chief of Natal) by Shaka and was granted large tracts of land.
Tinos Rusere, nicknamed the “Rhodesian Induna”, was an elected trade union representative of the Rhodesian miners in South Africa. In 1977 he became the trade union induna for all Southern African countries.
Joseph Leabua Jonathan worked as a mine induna (foreman) at Brakpan and eventually became the first Prime Minister of Lesotho.
The Sudwala Caves were named after the Swazi induna Sudwala.
Induna used as Name
The word induna is regularly used as a name to indicate something large (the big one) or important:
‘Ntabazinduna’ (Mountain of the Chiefs) is the name of a hill north of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. (Thabas Induna on the World City Database). The name stems from the practice of throwing izinduna who ran afoul of the king down it.(African Adventures, by Lord Baden-Powell)
Induna was the name of a racehorse that won the 1930 South Australian Derby.
Canada’s largest crocodile (14 feet long, weighing more than 1000 pounds) is called induna. It resides at the Reptilia (zoo) in Vaughan, Ontario.
In 1899 Winston Churchill (a young war correspondent at the time) escaped from a prison in Pretoria and rode the Induna (London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, by Winston S. Churchill) which was a steamer, built in 1891 (Sydney Heritage Fleet Records and Research Centre at Aberdeen, UK) from Delagoa Bay to Durban. (The Ships List)
The SS Induna was the name of a British merchant steamboat (5086BRT) that was sunk during WW2. It was built in 1925 by A. Stephen & Sons Ltd. of Glasgow and torpedoed by the German U-Boat Friedrich-Karl Marks (U-376) en route from Reykjavík to Murmansk. Of the 50 people on board, 23 survived and were picked up by a Soviet Minesweeper.(Allied Ships hit by U-boats) (Through Fire and Ice, by Austin Byrne)
The MV Induna Star was an 81-ton Australian steel ketch. (Darkest Hour: The True Story of Lark Force at Rabaul – Australia’s Worst Military Disaster of World War II, by Bruce D. Gamble, page 80). It was captured by the Japanese during WW2 and the men aboard were incarcerated. Some of those men would later die in the infamous sinking of the prison ship, the Montevideo Maru by a US submarine. (A Coastwatcher Mission off the coast of Papua) (People of the Plaque, by Jim Ridges).