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. Different names are used in different cultures
- Timamollo/Candle wife – BaPedi and Tswana speaking groups
- Indlunkulu/Great house – Xhosa, Thembu, Mpondo tribes
- iNdlovukazi – Zulu tribe, Swati
- iNdlovukazi ye sizwe – amaHlubi tribe
- Dzekiso – Vhavenda tribe
- Mofumahadi/MmaKgoshi – Tswana Sotho groups
The great wife usually must be of royal lineage coming from another royal house. Her dowry (Lobola/Bohadi) 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. In some one of her sisters or close relatives is provided as a seantlo/ihlanzi (substitute wife) to bear children on her behalf. If the monarch dies before marrying a royal wife, the royal family marries a royal wife and a member of the family gives seed to sire heirs
In most kingdoms, they also act as Regents to the throne after their husbands have died and for their young sons. They later become Queen Mothers/King’s mother
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 Novili Nomkafulo of AbaThembu Kingdom, South Africa
Queen Novili Nomkafulo was the great roya wife of King Ntangelizwe of abaThembu Kingdom , South Africa. She was born a princess of Xhosa Gcaleka Kingdom, South Africa as the daughter of King Sarhili kaHintsa of Xhosa. Her sister Nowisile became the wife of Chief Falo Mgudlwa of the amaJumba clan Thembu, Another became the wife of Mhlontlo of the Mpondomise and another became the wife of Chief Gwadiso of the Khonjwayo.
Queen regent Mohumagadi Gagoangwe of BaKgatla ba Mmanaana and Queen of BaNgwaketse, Botswana
Queen (Mohumagadi ) Gagoangwe (c.1845/47-1924) was twice a queen of different kingdoms by marriage. She was born a Princess of Bakwena, Botswana as the daughter of King Sechele I. She firstly married Kgosi Pilane of Bakgatla ba Mmanaana in Moshupa. In 1889, Kgosi Pilane died and their son became King Kgosi Baitirile.
After her husbands death, in 1895 she eloped and remarried to King Kgosi Batheon I of BaNgaketse, Botswana. Their son Kgosi Seepapitso III succeded him but was assasinated by his younger brother Moepapitso. Queen Gagoangwe served as regent for his young son from 1923 until her death in 1924. Her daughter Ntebogang would succeed her as regent until 1928 when the young King Batheon II took over.
The photo below is of Bangwaketse royal women was taken at Kanye on April 27, 1895, by the Swiss traveller Alfred Bertrand. The woman in the light dress second from left is Gagoangwe.
Infor and Photo ; Lekoba Mongwaketse prince
Queen regent Mantsebo Seeiso of the Kingdom of Lesotho
Late Queen regent Mantsebo Seeiso was the Senior wife of late King Simeon Griffith Seeiso whom she married in 1925 in a cousin marriage. She was born to Chief Sempe Nkuebe, grandson of King Letsie I thus she was a great grand daughter of King Letsie I. 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 mother to King or Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi of Bafokeng and 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 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 as his great royal wife. Her children were Prince Nondoda and Princess NomaGcaleka. Prince Siseko’s (Nondoda) could not ascend the throne due to health issues.
She would later become Queen mother of Xhosa Kingdom as she adopted her co-wifes son King Zwelonke Sigcau according to tradition so as to ascend to the throne. She died in 2012
Queen mother Nolitha Sandile 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 eldest child of King Mxolisi Sandile and elder sister of the late HM King Maxhobayakhawuleza Sandile of Rharhabe. She was also a granddaughter of AmaMpondo’s King Victor Poto Ndamase. Queen Nolitha Matiwane was the only woman in the 38-member Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders in 1996. She married King Welsh Matiwane of Mpondomise Kingdom
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
Photos ; Princess Wezizwe, Dispatch
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 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 Zulu 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
Photos; Ndundza Mabhoko royal family
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
Photos; Amahlubi royal family
Queen Mother Gladys Durorike Emiko of Warri(Iwere) Kingdom, Nigeria
Queen mother (Iye Olu) Gladys Durorike Emiko was born a princess of Ife as the goddaughter of late Ooni(King) of Ife, Nigeria Oba Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse II. In 1987, she married the Olu Atuwatse II Emiko of Warri Kingdom, Nigeria until his death in 2015. In 2021, her son ascended the throne as Olu Atuwatse III thus she became the Queen Mother (Iye Olu) Atuwatse III
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 becoming Indlovukazi (Great royal wife)
Photos; Queen Sekhothali Mabhena
Queen Sinokuhle Langa Matiwane of AmaMpondomise Kingdom, South Africa
Queen Sinokuhle 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
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. She was born Princess Sadiya Ado Bayero to father late 13th Emir Ado Bayero of Kano and mother Hajiya Hafsatu(Goggo Abba), the granddaughter of the 47th Emir of Katsina Muhammadu Dikko. After her husbands dethronement, her brother Aminu Ado Bayero 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 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
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(Iyoba). Her son Crown Prince Ezelekhae Ewuare is the heir to the throne. In this case she can be considered the 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 from a 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.
Queen Olori Firdaus Akanbi of Iwo kingdom, Nigeria
Queen Firdaus was born into the royal family of Kano emirate, Nigeria. She married the King (Oluwo) Abdurasheed Akanbi Telu I of Iwo kingdom, Nigeria.
MmaKgoshi Tokollo Lekgolane Sekwati of Rahlagane, South Africa
HRH Kgoshi Rahlagane III Mokgoma Kotole of Rahlagane community, Limpopo Province, South Africa married Princess Tokollo Lekgolane Sekwati of Mampuru royal house under BaPedi kingdom
MmaKgoshi Lekgolane Leshego Ntwampe of Bapedi ba Mamone, BaPedi Kingdom, South Africa
Kgoshi Malekutu Tshegofatso Mampuru IV succeeded his late father in 2021. In 2023 he married Lekgolane Leshego Ntwampe as his candle wife/Timamollo. She is cousin of the late King victor Thulare of BaPedi from his mother’s family
Photos; Tillyphotography,Kgabo Precious Ntoampe
Princess Tandiwe Zulu
Princess Tandiwe Zulu born into the royal family of Zulu as the daughter of King Solomon KaDinuzulu, 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 Magogo Constance Kadinuzulu
Princess Magogo KaDinuzulu was a famous zulu princess who was reknown for her musical zulu artistry. She was the daughter of King Dinuzulu and married the Chief Mathole Buthelezi of Buthelezi clan under Zulu. She is the mother of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, chief of Buthelezi clan
Princess Nozipho kaBhekuzulu
Princess Nozipho ka Bhekuzulu is the daughter of late King Cyprian bhekuzulu of Zulu Kingdom, South Africa. She is sister to the late king Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu. She married Inkosi Mandlenkosi Andres Mahlobo of Mahlobo clan. She is the mother of Prince Mthokozisi Mazwikazulu Mahlobo
I a Mthokozisi Mazwikaz
I am Prince Mthokozisi Mazwikazulu Mahlobo
Born by Princess Nozipho ka Bhekuzulu, sister to the late king Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu, cousin to the current king Misuzulu Sinqobile ka Zwelithini. My father is Inkosi Mandlenkosi Andres Mahlobo descendent to Nzobo ka Ntombela
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 of Alice 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 Thembakazi Gwadiso Joyi
Nkosi Minenkulu Joyi of Baziya traditional council (Joyi royal house) under AbaThembu kingdom , South Africa married Princess Thembakazi Gwadiso of Amakhonjwayo, amaMpondo kingdom, South Africa in 2022. The Chief is a Descendent of King Ngubencuka, Traditional leader of Baziya Traditional Council & Royal House Of Joyi.
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 reasons. 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 in 1948. She returned to Egypt and later remarried. She died in 2013
MmaKgoshi Boitumelo Maila Mogane of Mogane Traditional chiefdom, South Africa
MmaKgoshi Boitumelo Maila Mogane was born into the Ga Maila community and married Kgoshi Morone Koketso Fedrick Mogane of Mogane Traditional authority, Mpumalanga province, South Africa
Various chiefdoms also practice this custom in various south african kingdoms
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