History of Swaziland

Ancient Swaziland was originally home only to the nomadic Stone Age hunter-gatherers "The San" Bushmen. Their haunting cave paintings can still be seen and have been dated at 24 to 40 thousand years old. Modern Swaziland began with the Bantu migration from east central Africa in the late fifteenth century. Although a war like people, the migration is believed to have been driven by the need to find new pastures for cattle. The branch of the Bantu people who were later to become the Swazis were lead by Ngwane III, of the ruling Nkhosi-Dlamini family, whose direct descendants still rule in Swaziland today. They settled first in the southern Lubombo region, but were forced north through the Ezulwini Valley to escape the threat from the powerful Zulu nation. Eventually, following their victory over the Zulu at the battle of Lubuya River in the late 1830s, King Sobhuza I (Ngwane IIIs grandson) ushered in a new period of peace between the two nations when he married off two of his daughters to the Zulu leader Digane, (Digane was the half brother of Shaka, the founder of the Zulu monarchy, and had Shaka assassinated in 1928). Legend has it that shortly before Sobhuza I died in 1939 he had a vision and prophesised the coming of the white man. He instructed his people never to harm them. The Boers and the British arrived in Swaziland in about 1840. Under the reign of Mswati II the Swazis initially flourished, however the size of the Swazi Kingdom diminished by approximately half through land deals made with the Boers. With the discovery of gold in the Transvaal in 1886 Swaziland grew in strategic importance as the most direct route from the mines to the Mozambique coast. Following the Anglo-Boer war (1899-1902) Britain installed a resident commissioner and declared Swaziland a protectorate. Through the reign of Labotsibeni (Queen Regent) and King Sobhuza II, Swaziland peacefully opposed British rule, although Sobhuza II gave approval for some 4,000 Swazis to fight in North Africa and Italy during the Second World War. In the early 1960s, following British encouragement, Sobhuza II formed Swaziland's first political party the "Imbokodvo" or "grindstone" National Movement. In the countries first elections in 1967 the movement won all the seats. Swaziland finally won its independence on September 6th 1968 and is now the only black African state to still be ruled by the direct descendants of the leadership of pre-colonial times.