A new magisterial office was established here in 1887. The locals named it kwaNongoma (‘place of the juggler’) after king Zwide, chief of the Ndwandwe who was considered to be the juggler. It was first called Ndwandwe but was later changed to Nongoma.
One of the reasons why Nongoma was chosen as headquarters for the magisterial district was that it lay between two groups of Zulu who were regularly at war with each other; the uSuthu of Dinizulu and the Mandlakazi. This strategy was not very successful as the followers of Dinizulu razed the town of Nongoma to the ground shortly after the magisterial office was built.
The largest hospital in KwaZulu is at Nongoma and was established by the Benedictine monks. Plant growth in the area is mainly bushveld and farmers subsist by practising mixed farming in the district.