Great wife tradition in African Royal Houses

The great wife tradition is a royal marriage tradition practiced by various royal houses in Africa particularly Southern Africa traditional Kingdoms and Chiefdoms. A great wife is a wife married for the king to bear the heir to the throne. Some other names used are candle wife or Dzekiso (vhavenda). The great wife usually must be of royal lineage coming from another royal house. Her dowry is paid by the nation she is marrying. She therefore becomes the senior most wife and usually takes precedence over all others in matters of the throne. If she lacks a male heir, she adopts a son from her other co wives . the procedure of adoption differs from each Kingdom.

Below is a list of royal princesses who married into other royal houses and became great wives most serving as either regents or queen mothers for their sons. A few of them also can be viewed as such

Queen regent Mantsebo Seeiso of the Kingdom of Lesotho

Late Queen regent Mantsebo Seeiso was the Senior wife of late King Simeon Griffith Seeiso with whom she had only a daughter. After her husbands death she was selected regent for her step son Prince Constantine Bereng Seeiso (later known as King Moshoehsoe II) who was young and studying by then.

She was therefore the Queen regent of the Kingdom of Lesotho and is credited to having laid the path for constitutional reforms in Lesotho. She was addressed as Paramount Chieftainess by the british colonial government.

Queen mother Semane Khama Molotlegi of Bafokeng, South Africa

Late Queen mother Semane was born princess Semane of BaMangwato tribe, BotSwana as the daughter of Prince regent Tshekedi Khama. She married Kgosi Lebone Edward Molotlegi of Bafokeng and later became queen mother of current King or Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi of Bafokeng. She is an aunt to the current Kgosi Ian Khama of baMangwato, former president of Botswana. She died in 2020

Queen mother Nomoscow Dalindyebo of AbaThembu Kingdom, South Africa

Late Queen Nomoscow Dalindyebo of abaThembu Kingdom, South Africa. was the 3rd wife but great wife of late King Sabata Jonguhlanga Dalindyebo of abaThembu. She was the 3rd of the six wives of the late King Sabata Jonguhlanga Dalindyebo and became great wife as she was from the Njokweni royal house, Peddie. She therefore became the mother of the heir.

She is the mother of King Buyelekhaya Zwelibanzi Dalindyebo of abaThembu Kingdom, South Africa. She died in 2016.

Queen mother Nolitha Matiwane of AmaMpondomise Kingdom, South Africa

Late Queen Nolitha Matiwane of AmaMpondomise, South Africa was born a princess of Rharhabe Kingdom, South Africa. She was the elder sister of the late HM King Maxhobayakhawuleza Sandile of Rharhabe.

She is the mother of King Zwelozuko Luzuko Matiwane of Mpondomise kingdom, South Africa

Queen regent Lombekiso MaSobhuza Dlamini Sigcau of Mpondo aseQuakeni kingdom, South Africa

Queen regent Lombekiso MaSobhuza Sigcau aah Phikozwe! of Eastern amaMpondo aseQaukeni kingdom, South Africa is the only wife of late King Justice Mpondombini Sigcau of Eastern amaMpondo aseQaukeni kingdom (son of late King Botha Sigcau) . They married in 1976 .

Born a princess of Eswatini , she is the daughter of late Prince Makhungu Dlamini who was the son of King Sobhuza II and Inkhosikati laCheme.

She became the regent of her kingdom after the death of her husband until the next King was choosen. She is mother to HRH Princess Wezizwe Sigcau and HRH princess Bekiwe Sigcau. Grandmother to Prince Jubezizweni Sigcau Zulu

Queen mother Bhongolwethu Fikilephi Dlamini Ndamase of Mpondo asNyandeni, South Africa

late Queen mother Fikelephi Bhongolwethu Ndamase Of amaMpondo aseNyandeni /Western pondoland, South Africa was born a princess of Eswatini as the granddaughter of late HM King Sobhuza ii of Eswatini then Swaziland. Her father was Sobhuza’s son Prince Mashende Dlamini who died and she was later raised by her uncle prince Makhungu Dlamini. She is therefore first cousin to Queen regent Lombekiso MaSobhuza Sigcau of Eastern amaMpondo aseQaukeni kingdom and nieceto King Mswati iii of Eswatini.
She married Prince Mabalengwe Ndamase (son of late King Tutor Ndamase) in 1982. Prince Mabalengwe Ndamase died in 1988 leaving her a widow with two young sons, King Ndamase ii and Prince Botha Ndamase.
She became queen regent in 1998 for her young son after the death of her father in law King Tutor Ndamase until 2008 when her son took over. She died in June 2018.

Her son is the current King/Kumkani Mangaliso Ndamase II of Amampondo asNyandeni.

Queen mother Mohumagadi Mma Seingwaeng Kathleen Nono Mostepe Kgafela of BaKgatla ba Kgafela, Botswana

Queen mother Mohumagadi Mma Seingwaeng Kathleen Nono Kgafela (nee Motsepe) of Bakgatla of Botswana was born a princess Kathleen Nono Mostepe of BaKgtala ba Mmakau royal family, South Africa. She married Kgosi Linchwe II of Bakgatla ba Kgafela of Botswana in 1963. She died in 2022

She is the mother to current Kgosikgolo (King or Paramount Chief) Kgafela Kgafela II of Bakgatla people of Botswana and South Africa. She is also mother to Mmusi Kgafela, minister of investment, trade and industry in current Botswana government

Queen regent Noloyiso Nomusa Zulu Sandile of Rharhabe Kingdom, South Africa

Late Queen Regent Noloyiso Sandile of Rharhabe, South Africa was born Princess Nomusa ZuluT to late King Cypriabn Bhekuzulu and queen Mavis Mazungu Zulu. She married King Maxhoba Sandile in 1988 having two children namely King Jonguxolo Sandile and Princess Nomarharhabe Sandile. She became queen regent afor her young son after the death of her husband in 2011.

Her son is King Jonguxolo kaSandile

Queen regent Mantfombi Shiyiwe Dlamini Zulu of Zulu Kingdom, South Africa

Late Queen regent Mnatfombi Shiyiwe Dlamini Zulu was born a princess of Eswatini as the daughter of King Sobhuza II and sister to King Mswati III. She married King Goodwill Zwelithini as his third but great royal wife. After her husbands death she was named regent in his will . She served as regent but passed away a month later in 2021.

Her son is King Misuzulu Kazwelithini.

Queen regent mother Manyaku Thulare of BaPedi Kingdom, South Africa

Queen Manyaku Thulare is the mother of the late King Victor Thulare III Sekhukune of BaPedi who passed away in January 2021. She is the candle wife of late King Rhyane Thulare. She currently serves as regent for her late son’s throne

Queen mother Siphila Dlamini Mahlangu of Ndzundza Mabhoko, South Africa

Queen mother Siphila Dlamini Mahlangu of Ndzundza Mabhoko clan of Ndebele, South Africa was Born a princess of Eswatini formerly swaziland to King Sobhuza II, she is notably a sister to King Mswati III, late Queen Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu among others.

She married late King (Ingwenyama) Mayisha Cornelius Mahlangu of Ndzundza Mabhoko clan of Ndebele. Another dynastic royal intermarriage.

Her son is King Mbusi Mabhoko III Mahlangu

Queen Phumaphi Dlamini Hadebe of amaHlubi, South Africa

 Queen Phumaphi, Dlamini Hadebe born a princess of Eswatini formerly Swaziland. is the wife of King Langalibalele II of Amahlubi people whom she married in 1976. She is a grandndaughter of King Sobhuza II. The amahlubi affectionately call her Queen Mzamose , a similar name to King Langalibalele i wife who was also a swati princess

Queen Nondwe Sigcawu of Xhosa, South Africa

Queen Nondwe was born as Princess Feziwe Ndamase to King Tutor Nyangelizwe Ndamase of AmaMpondo aseNyandeni, South Africa. She married King Xolilizwe Sigcau of Xhosa Kingdom, South Africa in 1979. She would later become Queen mother of Xhosa Kingdom as she adopted King Zwelonke Sigcau as her son. She died in 2012

Queen Sekhothali Seeiso Mabhena of Ndebele Kingdom, South Africa

Queen Sekhothali Seeiso Mabhena was born Princess Sekhothali Martha Seeiso of Lesotho. She is the daughter of Prince Masupha Seeiso of Lesotho and late Princess Ma’Bereng Masupha Seeiso. King Letsie III of Lesotho is her first cousin. In 2019 she married King Makhosoke II Mabhena of Ndebele Kingdom, South Africa

Queen Sinokhule Langa Matiwane of AmaMpondomise Kingdom, South Africa

Queen Sinokhule Langa Matiwane was born Princess Siyonwabele Langa of amaNgcwangule clan, Zwaligugi traditional council under Mpondo Kingdom, South Africa. In 2021 she married King Zwelozuko Luzuko Matiwane of Mpondomise kingdom, South Africa

Queen Mother Best Kemigisa Olimi of Tooro Kingdom, Uganda

Queen Best Kemigisa is the current queen mother of Tooro Kingdom, Uganda. Born a princess of Batuku clan of Tooro, she later married late King Patrick Kaboyo Olimi III.

Her son is current King Oyo Nyimba Rukidi IV of Tooro Kingdom, Uganda

Queen Rosalie Gicanda of Rwanda

Late Queen Rosalie Gicanda was the last Queen of Rwanda. She was born a descendant of the previous kings of Rwanda and married King Mutara III Rudahigwa. She was killed in 1994 during the genocide

Queen Iroghama Ewuare of Benin Kingdom, Nigeria

Queen Iroghama Ewuare is the first wife of King (Oba) Ewuare II of Benin kingdom, Nigeria. She is the first of his five wives and is commonly called Queen mother. Her son Crown Prince Ezelekhae Ewuare is the heir to the throne. In this case she can be considered the great wife

Emir consort Sadiya Ado Bayero Sanusi of Kano, Nigeria

Sadiya Ado Bayero Sanusi is the first wife of her distant cousin 14th Emir Sanusi II of Kano who was dethroned. She was born Princess Sadiya Ado Bayero to late 13th Emir Ado Bayero of Kano. After her husbands dethronement, her brother was made Emir. She is therefore a sister to the 15th Emir Aminu Ado Bayero of Kano and Emir Nasiru Ado Bayero of Bichi, Nigeria.

During her husbands reign she was given the title Giwar Dan Maje which means Great Elephant. She is therefore a Great wife

Queen Dzekiso Fhulufelo Mphephu of VhaVenda, South Africa

Late Queen Fhulufelo Mphephu was a dzekiso wife of late King Tshimangadzo Dimbanyika Mphephu of VhaVenda Ramabulana royal house, South Africa. A dzekiso wife is a wife married for the king to bear heirs and her dowry is paid by the nation. She died in 2013. Her daughter is Princess Masindi Clementine Mphephu

Queen Khusela Diko of AmaBhaca, South Africa

Queen Khusela Sangoni Diko was born froma chief family in abaThembu kingdom. She is the widow (married 2018) of late King Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko of AmaBhaca who passed away in 2021.

Princess Tandiwe Zulu

Princess Tandiwe Zulu born into the royal family of Zulu, married King Tutor Nyangelizwe Ndamase of AmaMpondo aseNyandeni IN 1943 as his first wife.

Princess Sehlephi Dlamini

She was born a princess of Swaziland now Eswatini 1926 in Lozithehlezi, married Chief Velamuva Hlatjwako.

Princess Phetfwayini Dlamini

Born to King Sobhiza II of Swaziland now Eswatini, She married Prince Mbatjane Mamba, son of Chief Bhokweni Mamba. Her son was King Maja II of Mamba clan in Eswatini

Princess Msindvose Dlamini

Princess Msindvose was born a princess of Eswatini. She married Kgosi Pilane, Chief of the baKgatla of Rustenberg

Princess Gcinile Dlamini [Nqabayesizwe]

She was born a princess of Eswatini in about 1985, married 2004 at Qamata Great Place to Nkosi Lwandile Zwelenkosi Matanzima, King of Western Thembuland

Princess Nolusapho Phumla Ndamase

Princess Nolusapho Phumla Ndamase was the daughter of King Victor Poto Ndamase of AmaMpondo aseNyandeni. She married Chief Thandata Justice Mabandla of AmaBhele clan under Xhosa Kingdom in 1960. She died in 2001 and her husband in 2021

Princess Sdvumolesihle Dlamini

Princess Sdvumolesihle is a sister to King Mswati III of Eswatini. She married into the amaBhele royal house and is the daughter in law of Chief Thandata Justice Mabandla of AmaBhele clan under Xhosa Kingdom. Her son is the current Chief Qunta Mabandla aaah Ngangentaba of AmaBhele

Princess Bukelwa Holomisa Manthazima

Princess Bukelwa Holomisa Manthazima, daughter of late transkei leader Kaiser Daliwonga Manthazima from the western thembuland royal family. She married Nkosi Sango Patekile Holomisa of AmaHegebe clan, AbaThembu kingdom, South Africa. They divorced in 2014 and have two children Princess Kulukazi and Prince Jongumsobomvu (heir).

Princess Fawzia Fuad of Egypt, Former Queen of Iran

Princess Fawzia Fuad was the daughter of late King Fuad I of Egypt. In 1939 she married Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi of Iran , but the marriage was an arranged one for political moves. In 1941 she became Queen of Iran after her husband rose to the throne. The marriage was an unhappy one and after having a daughter they divorced in1948. She returned to Egypt and later remarried.

Various chiefdoms also practice this custom in various south african kingdoms

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