Ngwane III is considered the first king of Swaziland, because during his reign from 1745 to 1780, he moved his people north of the Pongola River into what is today the Shiselweni district in the south-east of Swaziland, establishing his capital at Zombodze. In this tibongo by Maboya Fakudze, the most prolific of the imbongi at the court of Sobhuza II, Ngwane III is presented a man of utterly irrational violence until, in the course of his migration to Zombodze he comes to Ngwane’s Rock and the scene of desolation brings him to his senses and he begins to govern properly.

Angry one, of Dlamini. (1)
Ngwane, angry at home
And on pastures,
In the shadows of mountains.
You hit young girls
Against cooking stones,
And men are bewildered,
Their mothers are gone,
Gone to the fields.
Ngwane, I saw,
Looking back,
Then he looked at the men,
And he proceeded.
Late at Mhlonhlotheni, (2)
Whose waters, no cattle drink,
From it, only men drink.
Vultures watched,
Taking refuge on rocks,
Which rock, the men call
The rock of Ngwane;
Smelling the odour of meat
The meat of cattle and bucks.
Then he remembered,
And joyfully shrilled
By his grandmother
Of Nkayaneni, (3)
Of Dzandzalukane. (4)
Before you, councillors and men knelt.
Hearth, from which no male buds. (5)
Hail, Mountains
Son of Langa. (6)

Translated by Thoko Ginindza,
from Tibongo teMakhosi netetiNdlovukazi
(London, 1975)


  1. Ngwane’s father, Dlamini III
  2. Mhlonhlotheni: On the South African, Swazi border, where Ngwane was repelled by the scene of dying cattle, bare rocks and vultures attracted by the smell of decaying meat, and came to his senses., remembering his grandmother.
  3. Nkayaneni: Ngwane’s mother, later Queen Regent
  4. Dzandzalukane: Not identified.
  5. This comment is obscure. Ngwane was succeeded briefly by his mother as Queen Regent, but his son Ndvungunye became king in 1780, to be followed by Sobhuza I.
  6. Langa: Early king of the Ndwandwe, from whom Ngwane’s mother was descended.