“He had 70 wives, 210 children and 1000 grandchildren”: the most prolific African king, nicknamed “Swazi Bull” (5 photos)

Category: Nostalgia, PEGI 0+
16 May 2024

King Sobhuza II was the first ngwenyama (i.e. monarch) of the independent Kingdom of Swaziland (a state in South Africa) and ruled for 82 years.

Sobhuza II was born in 1899 to the then king of Swaziland, Ngwane V, and his wife Inkhosikati Lomawa Ndwandwe. Four months later, on December 8, his father died at the age of 23 during a local tribal festival. It was assumed that his father's death was the result of poisoning, at the hands of enemies or his own wife.

At the age of 4 months, the infant Sobhuza was officially crowned, and his grandmother, Labotsibeni Mdluli, was chosen as regent (ruling royal) throughout his youth.

At that time, Swaziland was one of the British High Commission territories in southern Africa. During the colonial period, Sobhuza II played a largely ceremonial role and was revered as the traditional head of the Swazi nation, with all key power in the hands of the British.

Struggle for independence

Sobhuza's immediate reign began on December 22, 1921, when his grandmother formally handed over power to him.

King Sobhuza was a visionary leader who sought to preserve and promote the culture and traditions of his country. He also fought for the restoration of lands seized by the British authorities in 1907. To do this, he, enlisting the support of local elites and his population, went to London to officially demand from the British King George V the return of lands to the Swazi people.

In the late 1960s, the British planned to establish a parliamentary system with a constitutional monarchy in Swaziland, but King Sobhuza II opposed the idea. Due to the greatly increased popularity of the king and progressive anti-colonial rhetoric, Swaziland became an independent state on September 6, 1968, with Sobhuza II remaining as its king.

In subsequent years, Sobhuza created and strengthened his private army and already in 1973, with its help, he abolished the constitution, banned any political parties and dissolved parliament, establishing his absolute power in Swaziland.

Sobhuza II also used traditional social methods to maintain his power

Wives of Sobhuza II

He was an ardent supporter of polygamy, because he believed that the more influential women he had children with, the more his royal power would strengthen. Moreover, he often said that his genes should dominate every influential family in the country, so that any coup attempts would not lead to the destruction of his legacy.

Thus gaining absolute power, Sobhuza married 70 of the most prominent families in Swaziland and reportedly fathered 500 children. And at the time of his death he had more than 1,000 grandchildren.

Today the Sobhuza II clan makes up almost a quarter of the population of all of Swaziland (now Eswatini).

Mswati III is the current King of Eswatini

After the death of Sobhuza II, his 18-year-old son Mswati III became king and has ruled Swaziland (now Eswatini) for more than 30 years as the last African monarch. Today the 50-year-old king has 15 wives and 23 children. Mswati is often accused of government embezzlement, as well as kidnapping women he wanted to marry, but since the king has absolute power, no one can punish him in any way.

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