Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ngwenya Sobhuza II

Last week Swaziland celebrated the birthday of the Great King Sobhuza II. But exactly was this great King? Sobhuza II was born in Zombodza, Swaziland on the 22 July 1899. Initially Sibhuza was named Nkhotfontjeni which means “Stone Lizard”. However, when he reigned as King of Swaziland in his later years, he was named ‘Ngwenyama’ which means ‘Lion’.  His grandmother, Labotsibeni  became regent while he was still young, during a time when there was incredible strife between the Swazis and the British. In 1903 the Swazi nation fell under British control as a protectorate. This meant that Swaziland lost autonomy and communication with other countries, but would receive protection by the British.  Four years later a British commissioner arrived in Swaziland and commanded that 63% of Swazi land belong to Europeans. A large amount of Swazis then found themselves not living on Swazi National Land and had to relocate. They were given 5 years to move from their homes otherwise they were forced to leave. This was not a great place for a country to be in and Labotsibeni was determined that the following king would regain full control of Swaziland.
His grandmother knew that she had to think of something to get Swaziland back…

The matriarch knew that the only way to regain control of all land in Swaziland was to groom the new king to be able to communicate and understand the European ways as well as the African. With that in mind, Sibhuza went to Swazi primary and secondary schools with teachers that were flown in from north America and then attending the Lovedale college in South Africa.
When Sobhuza II became king of Swaziland in 1921 he brought hope that the country could be restored. However, for this hope to be realized, the King had to overcome a number of major obstacles.  The Swazi King immediately challenged the 1907 partition by the British High Commissioner. He flew to Britain to meet with King George V and petitioned him to restore the land, but his request was refused. This response did not take away from the King’s unwavering determination. Subhuza proved to be an excellent politician and over time won back Swaziland’s full independence, although it wasn’t until 1968 - a victorious and watershed moment in the history of Swaziland. A resident of Bulembu recalls King Subhuza and says “His people loved him. He called his people to the royal kraal to discuss country issues, he built dams for irrigation and most importantly he brought the country back from British rule and brought peace and stability.”

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