oa Africa Insight - Country profile - Swaziland

Volume 17, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-2804



The ancestors of the Bantu-speakers of southern Africa are thought to have come from somewhere in central Africa. In their search for good pastures they migrated southwards, splitting into many groups, including the Nguni. A branch of the Nguni, the Embo-Nguni, led by a man called Dlamini, is thought to be the beginning of the Swazi tribe. This group divided into two main groups. One of these groups began to migrate southwards again; the other group moved eastwards along the banks of the Pongola River. After crossing the Pongola River, this second group split up, this time into several groups. One of them settled between the Pongola and Umfolozi rivers and became known as the Ndwandwe. Another section journeyed northwards into present-day Swaziland. They were led by Ngwane III, who is of special significance in the history of the Swazi as it is he who gave the nation one of its names - the Kangwane. King Ngwane died in about 1790. The Swazi emerged as a coherent and homogeneous nation in the early 19th century under the reign of Sohbuza I (1815 to 1836), and Mswati II (1840 to 1868). The death of Mswati II ended the era of Swazi conquest, territorial expansion and unification of various peoples into one Swazi nation, but it ushered in a new struggle resulting from the invasion of white commercial interests.

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