A Xhosa-speaking people of south-eastern Africa descended from several refugee groups displaced during the Mfecane, which settled in the Eastern Cape and southern Transkei during the 1830s. Compare "AmaMfengu", "Fingo".
Many Mfengu escaped serfdom among other black peoples by seeking alliances with whites (often serving in the colonial forces during frontier wars), for which they were rewarded with grants of land.
Of or belonging to the Mfengu, a Xhosa-speaking people of south-eastern Africa.
Early 20th century; earliest use found in The Catholic Encyclopaedia. From Xhosa -mfengu (in iMfengu, plural amaMfengu) from -mfenguza to beg like a destitute person.