Son of Ngwenyama Sobhuza I, second Ngwenyama (king) of the Swazi nation (for whom the people are named), considered to be the greatest of the Ngwane-Dlamini dynasty.
Date of birth: c.1825, near Manzini, Swaziland.
Date of death: August 1865, Swaziland.
Mswati was born to King Sobhuza I and his wife Thandile around 1825. Sobhuza died in 1839, and Lojiba Simelane, Sobhuzu's aunt, was installed as regent. In 1845, after passing through initiation school (including ritual circumcision and a period of fasting in the bush) Mswati II became king.
In 1846 Mswati II had to deal with an attempted coup by one of his half-brothers, which also involved white missionaries and Zulu agitators. In response Mswati signed a treaty with the Boers of the Transvaal Republic, which gave him additional security from attack by the Zulu.
Mswati II consolidated his power, extended the age-regiment system for the army introduced by his father, and began to assimilate clans on the boundaries of his domain to create one of the most powerful nations in southern Africa. He settled one of his royal regiments at each of the royal residences, which proved effective against the occasional revolt by sub-chieftains. He then installed a senior member of his own clan (the Dlamini) as head man in each village. Although his kingdom was relatively stable, Mswati II continued to deal with border transgressions both by Transvaal Boers to the east and the Zulu of Mpande kaSenzangakhona (Shaka's brother and longest reigning Zulu king) to the south.
In the late 1850s a Zulu invasion of southern Swaziland was foiled with the aid of the British, which led to closer relations between Mswati and the British authorities in southern Africa. Only the Pedi (of the northern Transvaal) caused Mswati any particular difficulties in the years that followed.
When King Soshangane of the neighboring Gaza Kingdom died in 1859, Mswati II interfered in the succession, beginning a long period of military conflict between the Gaza and Swazi. (The Gaza kingdom, in what is now Mozambique, was so weakened by the conflict that they were easily overthrown by the Portuguese.)
Death of a King
In August 1865, Mswati died whilst at the peak of his prowess. His chosen successor, his son Ludvongo, was too young to take the thrown, so the regency was take up by Thandile Ndwandwe. In 1872 Ludvongo was poisoned during a political battle for succession by supporters of his half-brother Mbandzeni. Mbandzeni became king in June 1875. Unfortunately Mswati's successors proved unable to protect the Swazi nation against Boer claims to land (who claimed they had been promised land in past treaties) and various European concerns chasing mineral wealth.