Friday, December 9, 2011

Sobhuza II

Ngwenyama Sobhuza II (July 22, 1899 – August 21, 1982) was the Paramount Chief and later King of Swaziland. He was the son of Ngwane V.

Sobhuza succeeded Ngwane V as Paramount Chief of Swaziland on December 10, 1899, when he was only a few months old. His grandmother, Labotsibeni Mdluli, acted as regent until December 22, 1921. His nominal reign of 82 years, 9 months is the longest precisely dated monarchical reign on record and the longest documented reign of any monarch since antiquity. Only Pepi II Neferkare of Ancient Egypt and Taejo of the ancient Korean kingdom of Goguryeo are claimed to have reigned longer, though these claims are disputed.

Sobhuza's personal reign of over 60 years (1921–82) saw Swaziland's independence from Great Britain in 1968, after which he was styled King of Swaziland. When the kingdom became independent, it was considered possible that the existing tribal government could be modified into a constitutional monarchy. This existed for some time, until April 12, 1973, when he repealed the constitution and dissolved parliament, making himself absolute ruler.

King Sobhuza continued the tribal practice of keeping many wives. According to the Swaziland National Trust Commission, King Sobhuza II married 70 wives, who gave him 210 children between 1920 and 1970 (i.e. three children per wife, on average). About 180 children survived infancy, and ninety seven sons and daughters are alive today. When he died he had over 1000 grandchildren.

In the early 1980s he attempted to gain control over KaNgwane, a Bantustan set up by the South African apartheid government.

Sobhuza died in 1982, having appointed Prince Sozisa Dlamini to serve as 'Authorized Person', advising a regent after his death. The first regent was Queen Dzeliwe, but after a power struggle Sozisa deposed her and replaced her by Queen Ntombi, while at the same time Ntombi and Sobhuza's young son Mswati was designated as Crown Prince. Mswati was crowned as king in 1986.

A son-in-law was King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu of the Zulu Nation, who married Sobhuza's daughter Mantfombi Dlamini.

A daughter-in-law is Zenani Mandela, the daughter of former South African President Nelson Mandela of a cadet branch of the Thembu dynasty, who is married to one of Sobhuza's many sons.

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