This unit is about the Swazi state and their political organisation.




The Swazi nation was also a defensive nation that came into being during the Mfecane.

The country now called Swaziland was originally peopled by a section of the Abombo people.

The people who formed the Swazi nation were originally known as the Ngwane.

The Ngwane originally belonged to the Nkozi Dlamini clan of the Nguni speaking people.

As a state it was founded by Sobhuza when he led his people northwards into present day Swaziland with about 10 subordinate clans.

After Zwide had defeated him, Sobhuza led his people across River Pongole into modern Swaziland.

He first had to annex the Ngoni and Sotho clans there.

Later eight more clans joined Sobhuza running away from the Zulu impis.

The Shangane and the Ngoni on their way north left some of their people who mixed freely with the Swazi boosting their population.

Sobhuza welcomed all the refugees and gave them land and food

He united all the people and even ensured that their old chiefs were retained with his super vision.

He organized his men into age regiments and treated all the soldiers fairly.

This new strength enabled him conquer all the tribes that were disorganized by Zwide.

The Lebombo Mountains of Swaziland gave Sobhuza strong safety from the enemy.

In this first quarter of the 19th century of Swazi nation further avoided war with his neighbors.

Sobhuza gave vows to Shaka and even married Zwide’s daughter for friendship.

By 1814 the Swazi nation was already inexistence.



  • The Swazi nation was established around 1814 by Sobhuza of the Ngwane as a defensive state.
  • He treated conquered people kindly and as long as they recognized Sobhuza’a sovereignty over them, they receieved sympathetic treatment.
  • Sobhuza let the conquered people keep their chiefs increasing their loyalty to the centre.
  • He also recruited into Swazi regiments the conquered youth who were even promoted after providing their worth in battles.
  • He struggled to create peace and unity in the kingdom promoting coherence and stability.
  • He encouraged the non- Ngwane to adopt the Nguni culture and language something which led to unity.
  • He relied more on diplomacy and peace and used force only when their was no alternative.
  • His diplomacy was displayed when he married Zwide’s daughter yet it was Zwide who expelled the Ndwandwe in Swaziland.
  • He avoided unnecessary wars with neighbors and to his enemies like Zwide and Shaka he gave animals.
  • He also used marriage alliances. As already seen he took on Zwide’s daughter as a wife and produced Mswati out of it. This cemented his relationship with Zwide.
  • He also donated many beautiful Ngwane virgins to Shaka and even after Shaka had killed some of them after impregnating them Sobhuza continued sending more girls.
  • He welcomed all refugees and gave them land and food something which convinced eight more clans to join him.
  • He organized age regiments which thought temporary managed not only to conquer some Sotho tribes but also kept peace.



Political organization

  • The state was dominated by Mswati who ruled from 1840-1868.
  • But Sobhuza, Mbandazeni and Bemtu were the other kings.
  • During Sobhuza’s rule political control was loose and a form of confederacy existed where annexed chiefs remained with their influence and power.
  • Sobhuza kept peace with neigbours especially Zwide and Shaka.
  • He married Zwide’s daughter and Mswati was a product of such a union.
  • Shaka was given gifts in form of cows and gifts.
  • Swazi leadership was hereditary and Mswati succeeded his dead father in 1840 who brought many reforms.
  • The nation was divided into chieftainships but most of the chiefs came from the Ngwane central clans and central families.
  • All chiefs were answerable to Mswati who appointed and fired them.
  • There were two councils that helped the king in administration for example the council of elders and the larger assembly.
  • The chiefs made up the elder council and discussed national affairs.
  • The larger assembly was made up of all adult members and checked the chiefs and the king.
  • The age regiments protected the Swazi but they were not permanent especially during Sobhuza’s reign.
  • The Swazi known as Bomdzabu were more valued and provided a nucleus of the king’s advisers.
  • The Emakh and Zambili i.e. those found ahead were accorded privilege status if they proved their loyalty and learnt the Swazi language faster.
  • Like the Ndebele the Swazi had three divisions for example the true Swazi. Those found ahead in Swaziland by Dlamini and those absorb later on.
  • There was the institution of the queen mother who was very much respected.
  • The queen mother was the unofficial head of state
  • She had a lot of influence on the king her son
  • She acted as a regent when the king was young or in the kings absence
  • The queen mothers parish was the capital of the kingdom
  • The king had a palace in every important town of the kingdom
  • Socially the Swazi were tied together by clan and age regiments
  • In peace times young men catered for the kings cows
  • The king pleased the commoners by appointing regimental commanders from them.


  • The kingdom was Agro- based, producing yams, cassava and beans.
  • Some pastoralism took place although Dingane’s raids discouraged the Swazi
  • In peace times the kingdom traded with neighbours
  • Iron working took place
  • The king controlled all the economic activities

ASSIGNMENT : SWAZI NATION assignment MARKS : 10  DURATION : 1 week, 3 days

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