The Kingdom of Eswatini, also known as Swaziland, is a country that shares a border between Mozambique and South Africa. Famed as one of the smallest countries in Africa, with diverse climate and topography, the country’s name was changed to Eswatini in 2018. Beyond its cultural heritage, another thing that has made Swaziland a popular place is its king, Mswati III, who is known for his flamboyant excesses and polygamous lifestyle.
Having inherited his kingship directly from his father, Sobhuza II, in 1986, the monarch has ruled the country for over three decades and still counting. At the time he ascended the throne, he was just 18 years old and also the youngest ruling monarch in the world. Just like his predecessors, the King of Swaziland has been a symbol of polygamy, marrying over 15 wives. Although his style of leadership has been greatly frowned upon by both the local and international communities, King Mswati III has never given up his posh lifestyle. Let’s tell his story.
He Was Born in the City of Manzini, Swaziland
Born as Makhosetive on April 19, 1968, the monarch is the son of Sobhuza II and his wife, Ntfombi Tfwala. His mother is one of the youngest wives of his father, who married over 70 wives in his 82 years of reign. As the story goes, Mswati III was born four months before Eswatini attained independence from the British at the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital in Manzini. After his birth, he and his mother went to live at one of Sobhuza’s residences, Ejteni, situated close to the Masundwini royal residence.
Growing up, the young prince Makhosetive completed his education at Masundwini Primary School, and he also attended Lozitha Palace School. At the end of his schooling, he sat for the Swaziland Primary Certificate examination in December 1982, thus emerging as a First Class student with merits in English and Mathematics. The young prince also developed an interest in joining the royal guard, and at that young age, he joined the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF), hence becoming their first young cadet.
His Father Married 70 Wives And Had 210 Children
Like we aforementioned, Mswati grew up in a polygamous home. His father, King Sobhuza II, reigned for 82 years starting from 1899 to 1982. According to records, Sobhuza married a total of 70 wives during his lifetime and also has 210 children between 1920 and 1970. Mswati’s mother is among the youngest wives of Sobhuza, and out of his father’s 210 children, about 180 survived infancy. As of 2000, about 97 of his sons and daughters were reported to be alive.
At the time of his death, Sobhuza II is said to have over a thousand grandchildren. While all the names of Mswati’s siblings and half-siblings are not known to the public, below are some of the names we can gather.
- Senior Prince Mguciso Dlamini – Brother
- Prince David Dlamini – Brother
- Prince Mbuyisa Dlamini – Brother
- Prince Mahlaba Dlamini – Brother
- Prince Maguga Dlamini – Brother
- Prince Mangaliso Dlamini – Brother
- Prince Thumbumuzi Dlamini – Brother
- Prince Lonkhokhela Dlamini – Brother
- Prince Phiwokwakhe Dlamini – Brother
- Prince Khuzulwandle Dlamini – Brother
- Prince Hlangusemphi Dlamini – Brother
- Queen Mantfombi Dlamini – Sister
- Princess Lindiwe Dlamini – Sister
- Princess Tsandzile Dlamini – Sister
- Princess Sebentile Dlamini – Sister
Becoming the King of Swaziland
Makhosetive’s father King Sobhuza II passed on in 1982, and at the time, the young prince was only 14 years old. Following his father’s demise, Makhosetive was chosen as his successor by the Great Council of State, also known as the Liqoqo. Because the young prince was still studying at the time, his father’s two wives Queen Dzeliwe Shongwe, and his mother, Queen Ntfombi Tfwala, were appointed to serve as regent until he completes his studies in the United Kingdom.
Soon after he graduated from Sherborne International College in the United Kingdom, the young prince was called back so he can assume the throne. It was in September 1983 that Makhosetive was named as the Crown Prince of Swaziland. However, three years later, in April 1986, at the age of 18, he was crowned as King Mswati III. Since then, the king has been ruling the Kingdom of Eswatini and the Royal Household alongside his mother, known as Indlovukati (meaning Great She-Elephant).
Currently, King Mswati III has ruled the Kingdom of Eswatini for over three decades and still counting. However, his leadership has been termed as an “absolute monarchy,” which gives him the power to choose or impose any law on his subject, including electing the prime minister and other government and traditional officials. He gets special advice from his mother, the queen, as well as the council while deciding on matters of national interest.
Despite all these, Mswati’s style of rulership hasn’t been free from controversies. While some of his policies have been frowned upon, there has also been lots of protests by the people of Swaziland. The Swazi King promoted a new constitution, which allows freedom of speech and assembly for the media and public in 2004 while retaining its traditional system of leadership. However, some aspects of the new constitution were heavily criticized by the local and international communities, including Amnesty International.
See Also: South African Culture, People & Food
Mswati III Is Known For His Practice of Polygamy
A tradition, which has transcended from one generation to another, has been the polygamous lifestyle that exists in the Swazi royal family. Since the inception of his leadership in 1986, King Mswati III has married nothing less than 15 wives. Out of his 15 wives, two are deceased while two have left him permanently.
While the selection of a new Swazi king is done by the queen mother, this is quite different when it comes to selecting the king’s wives. According to Swazi tradition, a king can only marry his spouse after she has become pregnant, which proves that she can bear an heir. Until then, all his women are classified as concubines. That being said, we bring you a long list of all the Swazi Queens.
1. Inkhosikati LaMatsebula (The Great Wife)
2. Inkhosikati LaMotsa ‘La Madone’
3. Inkhosikati Sibonelo Mngomezulu LaMbikiza (married in 1986)
4. Inkhosikati Carol Dlamini LaNganganza (married in 1987)
5. Inkhosikati Putsoana LaHwala
6. Inkhosikati Senteni LaMasango (married in 2000)
7. Zena SorayaMahlangu (married in 2002)
8. Inkhosikati Nontsetselo LaMagongo (married in 2002)
9. Inkhosikati Angela LaGija (married in 2002)
10. Inkhosikati Noliqhwa Ayanda LaNtentesa (married in 2005)
11. Inkhosikati Nothando LaDube (married: 2005, Died: 2019)
12. Inkhosikati Phindile Nkambule (married in 2007)
13. Siphelele Mashwama (married in 2017)
14. Inkhosikati LaMagwaza “nee Delisa Magwaza” (married in 1993)
15. Sindiswa Dlamini, “The Liphovela (married in 2013)
Meet King Mswati’s Children
Through his 15 wives, the Swazi king, Mswati III, currently has a total of 35 children, as well as 7 grandchildren. Out of his 35 children, he has 13 princes and 22 princesses. Below are the sons of King Mswati III in the order of their birth years.
- Prince Sicalo (1987)
- Prince Lindani Dlamini (1989)
- Prince Bandzile Dlamini (1990)
- Prince Majahonkhe (1991)
- Prince Makhosini “Omari” Dlamini (1991)
- Prince Buhlebenkhosi (1997)
- Prince Mcwasho (2002)
- Prince Saziwangaye Dlamini (2004)
- Prince Betive (2007)
- Prince Betive (2007)
- Prince Maveletiveni
- Prince Sinawonkhe
- Prince Lusuku
King Mswati III has a total of 22 daughters as of 2020. They include the following:
- Princess Sikhanyiso Dlamini (1987)
- Princess Temaswati Dlamini (1988)
- Mrs. Schofield nee Princess Temtsimba Dlamini (1992)
- Princess Tiyandza Dlamini (1992)
- Princess Tebukhosi Dlamini (1994)
- Princess Temashayina Sibahle (1996)
- Princess Sakhizwe Dlamini (1999)
- Princess Sentelweyinkhosi (2000)
- Princess Sibusisezweni (2003)
- Princess Nkhosiyenzile (2003)
- Princess Lomabheka
- Princess Makhosothando (2005)
- Princess Sihlalosemusa Buhlebetive (2007)
- Princess Mahlemalangeni Temave (2009)
- Princess Nikudumo Dlamini (2009)
- Princess Mazwezulu Dlamini (2012)
- Princess Sabusiswa Dlamini (2012)
- Princess Mphilwenhle Dlamini (2012)
- Princess Ntsandvweni (2015)
- Princess Nolikhwa (2017)
- Princess Mpandzese (2018)
- Princess Lomchele (2019)