5. Queen Nandi of the Zulu Kingdom:
Queen Nandi was the mother of Shaka Zulu, one of the Zulu kingdom’s greatest kings in Southern Africa. Queen Nandi’s story is one of resilience and flexibility as a mother, and one of faith and hope against social forces and pressures.
She fell pregnant with King Senzangakhona’s son, who was deemed illegitimate as the couple was unmarried. She endured great embarrassment, humiliation and rejection as a result but still persevered with raising and training her son who was named after the iShaka beetle, which was initially blamed as the reason for her raised stomach as leaders tried to reject her pregnancy.
During Shaka’s reign as king, Queen Nandi had great influence over affairs of the kingdom, including being a voice of reason during political strife with neighbouring kingdoms. Through her being Shaka’s pillar of strength, he was able to go on his great exploits, extending the borders of the Zulu kingdom over a period of 12 years. Her death was marked by a long period of mourning known as “Isililo SikaNandi”.