The name, Mshanga, originates from South Africa. The actual Zulu name is Mhlanga which simply means ‘reed’. The name was brought to the north by freeing Ngonis and Ndebeles. Because on their way North Ngonis integrated other groups, the Zulu pronunciation disappeared and instead Mshanga, or Mushanga replaced Mhlanga.

Mhlanga is a very common surname among the Zulu in the south and the Ndebele including the Swatis in Zwaziland. Umhlang’a simple meaning is the reed found. Zulus and the Zwazi people attach great importance to reed. They occasionally hold a ceremony where young maids carry reeds and dance before the king.