There are certain stories, the world over, that stir our hearts and minds to imaginings richer and deeper than the bald facts of history can easily satisfy. Such is the legend of Thuthula, the young Xhosa girl whose beauty and grace won the heart of Ngqika, chief of the Rharhabe; the woman who was later married to his uncle Ndlambe, and then taken by Ngqika to become his wife.
The events took place in or around the years 1806 and 1807 in what is now the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Legend has it that Thuthula was out collecting firewood one day with her friends when she knelt at a spring to drink. Startled by the sudden appearance of a hunting dog crossing the stream below the spring, she looked up and saw a handsome young hunter chasing behind the dog. She was struck by his charm and good looks. Teasingly, as any young girl might do, she called her friends round her and challenged the young man to choose his favourite from among them. Amid much flirting and laughter, the object of all this girlish attention was pushed into making a choice. Inevitably, given her beauty, his playful decision fell on Thuthula. This was the first meeting of Thuthula, daughter of Mthunzana, with Ngqika, son of Chief Mlawu.