Ngwane III, the king who founded an African country in the 1700s after a territorial conflict

Francis Akhalbey September 07, 2018
The Swazi Royal Family Tree

eSwatini, consisting mostly of high plateaus and mountains, is in Southern Africa. In 1949 the British government rejected a South African request for control of this small, landlocked nation. Independence was granted in 1968.

The death of King Sobhuza in 1982 led to the coronation of 18-year-old King Mswati III in 1986. The king is an absolute monarch with supreme executive, legislative, and judicial powers. Nearly 60 per cent of Swazi territory is held by the crown.

The history of eSwatini, however, goes way beyond British colonization with the legendary Ngwane III playing an instrumental role in their present-day settlement.

A very indispensable figure in Swazi history, Ngwane III ruled from 1745 to 1780 and he is widely regarded as the first king of modern-day Swaziland.

As a matter of fact, Swaziland, recently renamed eSwatini and previously known as KaNgwane, meaning “the country of place of Ngwane” was named after him. His followers also referred to themselves as bakaNgwane. Swazis, till date, alternatively use these names to refer to their country and themselves.

According to history, the people of Swaziland are descendants of the Bantu who came from the Benue-Cross Region in Cameroon. The Royal House of Dlamini (Nkhosi Dlamini), which still rules the Southern African nation till date led and orchestrated their migration.

Swazi Royal Family tree

Under Ngwane III’s predecessors, they migrated from Eastern Africa through Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique. By the time his father, Dlamini III, became leader, they had managed to settle somewhere around the Pongola River and the Lebombo Mountains in Southern Africa.

Pongola River

When Ngwane III succeeded his father, armed territorial conflicts with other Nguni clans, which he managed to withstand for a while, forced him to lead his people to the northern side of the Pongola River, thus making the bakaNgwane the founders of modern Swaziland.

After settling, he declared Zombodze as the royal capital of bakaNgwane. Keep in mind that the Incwala, a Kingship ritual and one of the most important cultural ceremonies in eSwatini were first celebrated in Zombodze.

Ngwane III, after his death in 1780, was succeeded by his son Ndvungunye.


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