mbonga-tarzan13-face-headdress-alsombonga-tarzan13-fullMBONGA

Real Name: Mbonga

Identity/Class: Human;
    African
    early 20th century (
presumably late 19th century)

Occupation: Tribal leader

Group Membership: Gomangani/Mbongan tribe

Affiliations: Rabba Kega, Tubuto

Enemies: Tarzan (aka John Clayton II, Viscount Greystoke)

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: M'Bonga, Old Mbonga, Great Mbongambonga-tarzan9-spear-throw

Base of Operations: Tribal village near the Atlantic coast of Africambonga-tarzan9-headdressless

First Appearance: Tarzan of the Apes, featured with The All-Story magazine's October, 1912 issue;
    (Marvel) Tarzan#9 (February, 1978)

Powers/Abilities: Mbonga was an experienced tribal leader, familiar with survival in the jungle. 

    Mbonga and his people were cannibals.

    He and his people lived in a village surrounded with a wooden fence. 

    When danger lurked, he had his people retreat to the village.

    He carried a spear that he could throw as a weapon.

    When encountering Tarzan, Mbonga was a somewhat frail old man, but he was presumably somewhat larger and stronger in his youth.

Height: Unrevealed (he was significantly smaller than Tarzan, who is around 6' tall, so perhaps 5'6" to 5'9")
Weight:  Unrevealed (perhaps 150 lbs.)
Eyes: Dark (presumably brown; one image makes it appear that he may be heterochromic, but that may just be a trick of light, art error, or something)
Hair: Bald (black eyebrows)

History:mbonga-tarzan9-face-headdress
(Tarzan#9 (fb) - BTS) - Having read of "God" in his father's books, Tarzan sought to learn who God was, and he began questioning animals and people. 

(Tarzan#9 (fb) - BTS) - Although not fully believing in witch-doctors, Mbonga enjoyed sharing the spoils attained via his tribe's witch doctor (possibly Rabba Kega, or his precessor).mbonga-tarzan9-rear

(Tarzan#9) - After Tarzan questioned, unmasked, and throttled the Mbonga witch doctor (concluding that if the witch doctor was God, then Tarzan was the greater God), Chief Mbonga watched as Tarzan walked through the village. 

    After Tarzan passed by his hut, Mbonga stepped out and raised his spear to kill him from behind. However, Tarzan's jungle senses detected Mbonga's scent, and he whirled to avoid the spear. 

    Tarzan then turned and tackled Mbonga, knocking him to the ground and threatening to kill him with his dagger in return for his failed murder attempt. Getting his first close view of Mbonga, Tarzan considered that he was just a frightened old man, and he took pity on the chieftain. Tarzan then departed into the jungle. 

(Tarzan#12 - BTS) - Seeking to play a prank on the Mangani (apes) of whose tribe he was affiliated, Tarzan stealthily entered the Mbonga village and stole a fresh lion hide hanging from Mbonga's hut.

(Tarzan#13 - BTS) - After the Mbonga tribe set a trap using a young male goat to catch a lion so they could torture it to death later, Tarzan took the goat for his own food. Tarzan then ambushed and abducted the witch doctor Rabba Kega, bound and gagged him, and placed him in the lion trap.

(Tarzan#13) - When a tribesman reported Rabba Kega's absence to Mbonga, the chieftain considered that while it was not good for a tribe to lose their witch man, it was also nearly night and the leopards would be prowling outside their village's walls. Mbonga resolved that they would wait until morning to search for Rabba Kega, noting that a witch-man with strong medicine had nothing to fear from one night in the jungle. 

    The next morning, Mbonga led some of his greatest warriors to search for Rabba Kega and to see if their lion trap had bagged its prize. They rejoiced to see the captured lion until they got close enough to see Rabba Kega's mutilated corpse within the trap. Tribesman Tuboto correctly blamed Tarzan -- the "white devil-god" -- for having done this, and Mbonga also correctly considered that Tarzan could be watching them even now, and that they must hurry back to their village. mbonga-tarzan9-groundmbonga-tarzan13-face-headdress

(Tarzan#13 - BTS) - Rabba Kega's lifeless corpse was disposed of.

(Tarzan#13) - Leading his warriors to carry the caged lion to his tribal village, Mbonga then announced that Rabba Kega was no more and that Tubuto was now the witch doctor. He then noted they would celebrate that night with a lion ceremony. 

(Tarzan#13 - BTS) - Having watched from above in the jungle trees, Tarzan then retrieved the hide of a "numa" (his word for lion) that he had taken months ago from M'bonga's hut.. 

    That evening, after the celebration had begun and the tribesmen went to get the lion, Tarzan -- wearing the lion's hide, walking on all fours, and mimicking the lion's roar -- confronted the tribesmen. Unprepared for this and frightened by the "black emptiness of death" in place of the normal green eyes, the tribesmen fled into their huts, into which the women had preceded them. Knowing all eyes were on him, Tarzan then stood erect and removed the lion skin. When the tribal warriors rushed out after him, Tarzan leapt over their wall into the jungle on the far side of the village. 

    Tarzan then circled around and released the captured lion. When the warriors saw the lion, they assumed it to be Tarzan in the lion skin again, and they approached it, only to be savagely attacked by the powerful lion. Confused and fearfully believing that Tarzan had magically transformed into a lion, the warriors were easily overwhelmed, after which they threw open their gate and fled into the jungle and climbed trees. 

    As the lion departed through the open gate, carrrying one fallen tribesman as a meal, the tribesmen resolved to give both the "forest-devil" (Tarzan) and "simba" (their word for lion) a wide berth from them on.

    From a distance, Tarzan smiled and considered that the gomangani had no sense of humor.

Comments: Created by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
    adapted to Marvel by
Roy Thomas, John Buscema, and Alfredo Alcala

    While I own the Tarzan stories, the only ones I had read prior to this profile were the ones involving Abdul Alhazred. I'm told these are the only appearances for Mbonga, but as Wikipedia references Mbonga in Tarzan of the Apes, I am suspicious. If you're aware of more appearances, let me know, and I'll get to them at some point. 

    According to what I saw online, Jungle Tales of Tarzan are tales of his teenage years, taking place before Tarzan of the Apes. Interestingly, Mbonga seems older in #9 than in #13...perhaps the one in #13 was actually a successor to the one in #9. 

    I believe gomanghani is the name for the black tribesmen, with tarmangani referring to white/Caucasian people like Tarzan, and mangani the name for the great apes who raised Tarzan. Mbonga seemed to be both the name of the chieftain and his tribe.

    This profile was completed 7/31/2021, but its publication was delayed as it was intended for the Appendix 20th anniversary 's celebratory event.

Profile by Snood.

CLARIFICATIONS:
Mbonga
should be distinguished from:


images: (without ads)
Tarzan#9, story page 9, panel 4 (wizened face by hut);
            panel 5 (rear, outside hut);
            panel 7 (throwing spear);
        pg. 10, panel 2 (scared, without headress);
            panel 4 (on ground, full body);
    #13, pg. 7, panel 5 (face/chest);
        pg. 8, panel 6 (also face/chest);
            panel 7 (mostly full; frontal; distant)

Appearances:
Tarzan#9 (February, 1978) - Roy Thomas (adapted from The God of Tarzan from Jungle Tales of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs); John Buscema (penciler), Alfredo Alcala (inker), Archie Goodwin (consulting editor)
Tarzan#12 (May, 1978) - David Anthony Kraft (adapted from "Fangs of Death" from Jungle Tales of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs; editor); John Buscema (penciler), Rudy Messina (inker), Roy Thomas (additional dialogue; editor)
Tarzan#13 (June, 1978) - Roy Thomas (adapted from A Jungle Joke from Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs; editor); John Buscema (penciler), Rudy Messina (inker)


First posted09/06/2021
Last updated: 11/09/2021

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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