Ngqika (Gaika) (circa 1776-1829) was the paramount chief of the Rarabe Xhosa during a period of power struggle. Ngqika came to the chieftainship of the southern Xhosa on the death of his grandfather Rarable in about 1787. At first, his uncle Ndlambe (q.v.) acted as regent, until Nqika imprisoned him. Ndlambe escaped across the Fish River and raised some Xhosa groups against Nqika.

Ngqika lost much support from his own people because of his relationship with one of his uncle’s wives. Ndlambe’s power slowly grew, but Nqika survived because of the support of the Cape Colony government, which believed him to be the paramount chief of the Xhosa people. In 1818 he was defeated by his opponents, including the prophet Makanda and the Xhosa chief Hintsa (q.v.).


He was restored to power when Cape forces in turn defeated his enemies. He then ceded a section of land known as the “Neutral Zone” to the British. This cession was unpopular with his people and also led to further frontier disputes. Ngqika became an alcoholic and died in disgrace in 1829. He was succeeded by his son Sandile (q.v.).

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