Established: Kingdom of Eswatini 1968
Population: 1,093,238 (census 2017)
Religion: Christianity (83%), African Traditional Religions (15%)
Language: Swazi, English
Order of Visit: Ninth
First Visit: 8 April 2006
Last Visit: 8 April 2006
Duration: 1 Day
Must Do: Enjoy the stunning countryside
Swaziland Journal Entry
History and Geography
Eswatini is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. It is bordered by Mozambique to its northeast and South Africa to its north, west and south. The population is composed primarily of ethnic Swazis
The Swazi settlers, then known as the Ngwane (or bakaNgwane) before entering Eswatini, had been settled on the banks of the Pongola River. Before that, they were settled in the area of the Tembe River near present-day Maputo, Mozambique. Continuing conflict with the Ndwandwe people pushed them further north establishing his capital at Shiselweni at the foot of the Mhlosheni hills.
The autonomy of the Swazi nation was influenced by British and Dutch rule of southern Africa in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1881, the British government signed a convention recognising Swazi independence despite the Scramble for Africa that was taking place at the time. This independence was also recognised in the London Convention of 1884. Swaziland had a triumviral administration in 1890 following the death of King Mbandzeni in 1889. This government represented the British, the Dutch republics, and the Swazi people. In 1894, a convention placed Swaziland under the South African Republic as a protectorate. This continued under the rule of Ngwane V until the outbreak of the Second Boer War in October 1899.
In 1903, after the British victory in the Second Boer War, Swaziland became a British protectorate. Much of its early administration (for example, postal services) was carried out from South Africa until 1906 when the Transvaal Colony was granted self-government. Following this, Swaziland was partitioned into European and non-European (or native reserves) areas.
In the period between 1923 and 1963, King Sobhuza II established the Swazi Commercial Amadoda which was to grant licences to small businesses on the Swazi reserves and also established the Swazi National School to counter the dominance of the missions in education. His stature grew with time and the Swazi royal leadership was successful in resisting the weakening power of the British administration and the incorporation of Swaziland into the Union of South Africa.
The constitution for independent Swaziland was promulgated by Britain in November 1963 under the terms of which legislative and executive councils were established. This development was opposed by the Swazi National Council (liqoqo). Despite such opposition, elections took place and the first Legislative Council of Swaziland was constituted on 9 September 1964. Changes to the original constitution proposed by the Legislative Council were accepted by Britain and a new constitution providing for a House of Assembly and Senate was drawn up. Elections under this constitution were held in 1967. In 1973, the constitution of Swaziland was suspended by King Sobhuza II who thereafter ruled the country by decree. Swaziland become an absolute monarchy which is still is today.
On 19 April 2018, King Mswati III announced that the Kingdom of Swaziland had renamed itself the Kingdom of Eswatini, reflecting the extant Swazi name for the state eSwatini, to mark the 50th anniversary of Swazi independence. The new name, Eswatini, means “land of the Swazis” in the Swazi language
What I learned
I only briefly visited the then Swaziland in 2006 for one day. All I learnt was the King had many many wives and ruled with absolute authority. The countryside looked amazing and the people friendly. The amazing thing the monarchy of Swaziland (now Eswatini) managed to achieve was staying separate from South Africa and it’s white apartheid rule but there are still many social equity issues in this tiny nation.