The Rharhabe (IPA: [xaxaːɓe]) are a Xhosa sub-group found on the Ciskei section of the Eastern Cape. Their counterparts are the AmaGcaleka which are found on the Transkei section of the Eastern Cape. The major and most well-known component of the Rharhabe are the Ngqika ("Gaika") tribe.

History of the Rharhabe

The Xhosa royal blood line stretches from Xhosa, whose successor was Tshiwo, the father of Phalo.

The whole problem stretches to the time King Phalo had both of his wives arriving on the same day, for whom he had already paid lobola, one from the Mpondo royal family and one from the Thembu royal family. Since in the Xhosa nation the first wife, as was declare in her arrival, was the one whose sons could be heir to the throne. This situation cause a great dillemma and a great out cry -some called this the ancenstors' punishment- because a first wife could not be declared. So a secondary yet a equivalent position, at the time, was created the Right House. So there was a Right House and the Great House.

Phalo had two 'first born' sons, Rharhabe, the eldest but from his right hand house and Gcaleka, the first born from the great house.

Rharhabe was born around 1702. He displayed signs of wisdom from a very young age. As the two brothers, Gcaleka and Rharhabe, grew up, argument began ensuing about who should be the rightful air to the kingship as Gcaleka tried to usurp the throne. To avoid confrontation, Rharhabe and a group of his followers left Phalo's Great Place and crossed the Kei River and thus the Xhosa monarchy was, and still is, divided into the AmaGcaleka and the AmaRharhabe. On arrival at the Ciskei, Rharhabe negotiated with Queen Hoho, queen of the Hottentots and the land between the Keiskamma and Buffalo rivers was sold to Rharhabe. The Amathole Forests and Hoho hills between Middle Drift and King William's Town were also given to Rharhabe.

Rarabe is known to have had at least two wives. He had 9 sons from his first wife (Mlawu ka Rarabe, Jalousa ka Rarabe, Siko ka Rarabe, Sigcawu ka Rarabe, Cebo ka Rarabe, Hlahla ka Rarabe, Nzwane ka Rarabe, Mnyaluza ka Rarabe and Ntsusa ka Rarabe) and from his second wife, Nojoli kaNdungwana of Thembu, he had two sons (Ndlambe ka Rarabe and Nukwa ka Rarabe).

Rarabe died near present day Dohne in the Eastern Cape Province.

The Rharhabe today

The Rharhabe are currently under the leadership of King Maxhob'ayakhawuleza Sandile Aah! Zanesizwe and currently have 40 other chiefs serving under them with a jurisdiction stretching out to Peddie, Whittlesea and the Greater Fish River areas, including Alice.

See also


  • Peires, J.B. (2003). The House of Phalo. Johannesburg, South Africa: Ravan Press.

External links

Rharhabe Kingdom [1]

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