Swaziland History

Swaziland History

The territory of the Kingdom of Swaziland was probably populated by San in pre-Christian times. Around 1400, Bantu-speaking peoples immigrated to southern Africa, including Zulu, Sotho, Tswana and Xhosa. From the middle of the 18th century, members of a Bantu people moved from the south of today’s Mozambique to the area of ‚Äč‚Äčtoday’s Swaziland, who settled as farmers and ranchers. The Swazi united under the kings Sobhusa I (1815 to 1836) and Mswati (1840 to 1868) with the peoples of the Nguni and Sotho to form a common empire. The emerging empire had to resist several attacks by the Zulu, which went through the south of Africa with a large army.

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From the mid-19th century, the Swazi rulers were endangered by the advancing Boers from the south (descendants of Dutch, German and French immigrants who had settled in the Cape from the mid-17th century) who were looking for more settlement areas were. After the Swazi had already given up large parts of their tribal area, King Mswati asked the British colonial power for help. The area became a British protectorate.

In 1879, gold discoveries in what is now Swaziland caused numerous Europeans to immigrate. Within a short time they held the key economic positions in the country. At first, the country was guaranteed political independence, but only after the Boer War (1899 to 1902) did the Boers give up their claims after their defeat against Britain. As a British protectorate with King Sobhusa II as regent (1921 to 1982), Swaziland was initially placed under the supervision of the British governor-general residing in Cape Town. The white minority in Swaziland was represented by a European Advisory Council.

Political parties began to emerge in the early 1960s: the Swaziland Progressive Party (SPP), led by John Nguku, called for the country’s independence from Britain and a democratic constitution. The “Ngwane National Liberatory Congress” (NNLC) under Ambrose Zwane split from the SPP in 1962 and also pursued the goal of a sovereign Swaziland. A constitution was imposed on the country by Great Britain in 1964. In protest, the regent Sobhusa II founded his own party (“Imbokodvo National Movement”, INM), which won the elections held in a coalition with the “United Swaziland Association” founded by whites. The country received full internal autonomy from Britain three years later.

In 1968 the Kingdom of Swaziland was released into independence.

In 1973, King Sobhusa II overruled the constitution and banned all opposition parties that had won seats in parliament for the first time in the same year. A new constitution in 1978 made the king the sole ruler in the country, a senate appointed by the king and a national assembly existed, but only had an advisory function. Important positions were filled by close relatives of the royal family. State affairs led few, influential family clans.

After Sobhusa’s death in 1982, one of his main wives took over the reign in Swaziland until the heir to the age of majority. In April 1986 Makhosetives Dlamini mounted as King Mswati III. the throne of Swaziland. He is one of around 600 children of King Sobhusa II. According to AbbreviationFinder, the new king kept his father’s course and continued to suppress any opposition movement.

In the early 1990s, a devastating drought made Swaziland dependent on foreign food deliveries. Domestically, the pressure of the population on the authoritarian ruler increased, so that in November 1993 he had to approve elections to form the National Assembly, in which, however, only candidates selected by him were allowed to run. A general strike in 1996 led to a commission starting to draft a new constitution. Since the end of 2000, the resistance of the democracy movement to the authoritarian leadership style of the regent has increased, but so far without any result.

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A quarter of the population is now infected with the HIV virus or has AIDS, making Swaziland one of the highest HIV rates in the world. In 2005, the government established a National Emergency Council to fight the pandemic.

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