This is a second version of the Praises of Sobhuza II. This version of Sobhuza’s tibongo, sung by Mhlabeleli Dlamini, another member of the royal house, focuses on the later part of Sobhuza’s reign after his position had been secured.
It begins with Sobhuza’s dispatch of the regiments in World War 2, and continues with his later political campaigns, culminating in national independence and the triumph of the royalist party in parliament.
The hurrying one of Mahlokohla (1)
Who hurries to Egypt
Who hurried to Italy
And along the way
Met a lunatic of the mountains (2)
Who was jumping as he walked
This lunatic was calling that
Hitler’s army is bombing
He thought he would dine in Durban
In Mbabane in Swaziland
Then the English called
Saying ‘Help oh son of Mahlokohla!’
And then you made the lunatic retreat (3)
You made it retreat through a multitude of soldiers
Even today nations are confused
Even the one who does not care will.
Children are playing a galloping game at Lobamba
Sobhuza involved himself in a white men’s war
Multitudes of soldiers
Were from Shiselweni (4)
Were from Hhohho
Were from Lubombo
Were from Manzini
Were going for Nkhanini (5)
Were going to Lobamba (6)
Across the oceans.
The weather changed
Blockers of all outlets
How did you block the outlets
Because Sobhuza was able to go across (7)
I saw him dancing with his knobkerrie
Going to board a white train
Men disagreed among themselves
Saying that was not Sobhuza
Where could Sobhuza find
A white train?
When he is not king George
When he is not the king of the whites.
Others said it was not king George
Where could king George find a sigeja (8)
When he is not Sobhuza (9)
When he is not the king of kaNgwane
When he is not the king of the Swazis
Because the king of the Ndwandwa
Is the king of the Nxumalo.
You dogs of Marwick have grown fat (10)
Mandanda is the chairman of your committee
You say our king has aged
Yet Sobhuza can still jump
These men are a committee from Hhohho (11)
Let therefore a meeting be converged
So that these stories are reported
To Makhosini at Nkhungwini (12)
He who is born of Ndzabankhulu.
Others resorted to walking
To report to Nkruma the electoral officer
That the pigs of KaNgwane have revolted against Sobhuza (13)
And thrown the Mdzimba stones at him (14)
He has fed and nurtured
The young one of Mahlokohla
But today he has reared rebels
They came from Mhlume, Big Bend, Mbabane (15)
Having formed queues
Carrying knobkerries with them
Heading for Lobamba
He who did not know thought it was a hunting expedition
It is Dumisa’s men (16)
Demanding a pound a day
Oh beard you do not bend, that is the insult of Marwick’s dogs (17)
If it bent, it would be coiled.
Wake up, it is already dawn you journalists
Go to Matsapha to obtain news (18)
It is obtained from Zwane a modern doctor (19)
He will get some for Miss Scutt of Nqabaneni
And also obtain some for Mndzebele of Mhlosheni college
The fact that the land of Ngwane
Has been sold to the Union (20)
If I were king really
I would have been annoyed
Because whoever has anything to say, says it
What kind of axe that leaves no tree
It was first rumoured
A lot awaits the son of Mahlokohla (21)
Something else was obvious, the bird landed
Development has really arrived (22)
Contours at kaNgwane have arrived
Even cotton is grown at kaNgwane
Iron‐ore is mined at Ngwenya
Paper is produced at Bbunya
Feeding schemes, entreprenurial art and adult literacy have been introduced
Sweets in Matsapba are produced
There is the broadcasting service in Mbabane
Even tar has arrived (23)
The train has arrived
Multi‐party has arrived
Census bas arrived
Voting has arrived. (24)
We thought we were at night
We were adamant and refused to accept
We were in shebeens refusing to understand (25)
We were only convinced when we were voting
when I arrived at Msunduzi (26)
And declared that Sobhuza is king
They all stared at me
Asking why I was saying Sobhuza was king
Because we would be ruled by multi‐party
All Swazis were shocked
Groups of men were gathered around the country
Saying the Imbokodvo party should not sleep at home (27)
And should not even eat
Should not even bath
But hurry to the voting polls
It is difficult to eat young one of Mahlokohla (28)
I saw it passing through the shrubs
Using the Sidvokodvo route to cross (29)
Because the Siphofaneni one is winding
To report to the chiefs of Shiselweni (30)
The fact that Swazi traditions
Have been eroded!
Because at the cattle byre at Lobamba
The outlet is never closed
We saw the calves remaining with their mothers
Cars bearing the name Nkominophondo passed by (31)
These cars were decorated with scarfs, it was scary
The other one was singing ‘choose who you like’
Another was saying
‘This task is difficult even for men’
Newspaper readers what is the news
I have heard, not seen
Those of kaNgwane
Refused to be ruled by multiparty
Saying Sobhuza is the only king
The number of votes is testimony to this (32)
From the voting boxes.
Respond to the call house burner (33)
You burnt our house
And forgot to burn a witch
Respond to the call, Mahlokohla is calling you
You are being called at Masundvwini (34)
Oh you are summoned by the teachers
They are calling you for crucial issues
Because of stories of umcwasho (35)
They are calling you again for crucial issues
Because the news about the Imbokodvo puzzled them
And then you explained
Explainer of news
Book reader even if it is closed (36)
He who likes them does so
He who dislikes them also does so
You rule with a beer bottle (37)
When older kings of kaNgwane ruled with traditional beer
You board a train
When older kings of kaNgwane rode on a horse
You hid under a lisundvu tree at Masundvwini (38)
When older kings of kaNgwane hid in the caves
You said the young girls should be buried at the casino (39)
When the kings of kaNgwane said
They should be buried next to their mothers
And then you broadcast in the broadcasting station
When the kings of kaNgwane
Broadcast through messengers
You said you were doing this
So that no one talks on your behalf
And add what you did not say. (40)
You of inside,
Here is the siSwati version
Lablangana neluhlanya lwetintsaba
Loluhlanya lwalubitwa kutsiwa
Iyabhomba ngu Hitlari
Yen’ abetsi lidin’ utalidl’ eThekwini
Babe sebayamemeta ngebaseNgilandi
Bats’ “Inyandza leyo mntfwanaMahloko‐hla!”
Wena wabes’ uyaluncandza luhlanya
Waluncandza ngesidzidzi semasotja
Nalamuhla njena tive tidzidzekile
Nalongakayingeni utawut’ ayingene
Bantfwana bayidlal’ ingcabetfu kaLobamba
Sobhuza uyingenile imph’ ingeyalabamhlophe
Nivimbe njan’ ematubukweni?
Ingan’ uSobhuza uwelile.
Ngimbon’ awukhephuta ngesigeja
Ayawukhwela kulesimhlophe sitimela.
Aphikisana odvwan’ emadvodza
Atsi kakusiye lona uSobhuza
Angesiye Khingi Joji
Angesiy’ inkhosi yalabamhlophe.
Atse lamanye akusiye Khingi Joji
Khingi Joji abengasitsatsaphi sigeja
Kungesiy’ inkhosi yakaNgwane
Angesiy’ inkhosi yemaSwati
Ngoba yinkhosi yemaNdwandwa
Nani tamaku taMawiki sesinisolile
Anits’ inkhosi yakits’ igugile
Kants’ uSobhuza usenemagonso
Lamadvodza yikomidi kaHhohho
Letindzaba tiyewubikelwa Makhosin’ eNkhungwini
Nalokutsi bakaNgwane basale bacel’ elunyaweni
Bayembikela Nkruma yinkhosi yelukhetfo
USobhuza tingulube takaNgwane timbhembesele
Tiye tamgicitela nangematje kuseMdzimba
Ngekondla yondlile ikhulisile
Ngulamuhla njena seyifuye boHlamkile.
Baqhamuk’ eMhlum’ eBhik’Bhend’ eMbabane
Nabo bacondze kaLobamba
Watsi longati butimba ngebetintsenetja
Qba, libandla laDumisa
Lifuna mpondo ngelilanga.
Silevu kawugobani yinhlamba yetamaku taMawiki
Kube siyagobana ngabe sesingemashiligodwane.
Vukani kusile nani batsaphuni betindzaba
Hambani kuMatsapha niyewutitsaphuna
Titsashunwa kuZwane loyinyanga ngeyesilungu
Utawutsaphunela nkosazana Sikath’ useNqabaneni
Amtsaphunele Mndzebel’ useMhloshen’ekolishi.
Kona lokuts’ uSobhuza live lakaNgwane
Mine ngangingaba yinkhosi yenabakitsi
Ngobe nalokungenaludvonsi njena kuyasutela
Lizembe lini lel’ imits’ ingab’ isasala!
Sicale seva ngelivi
Kukhulu lokutako mntfwanaMahlokohla
Lokunye bekusegcekeni ‘be iyahlala inyoni.
Nanso‐ke inhlalakahle seyifikile ciniso
Yimidvweshu kaNgwane ifikile
Nakotini kaNgwane sewuyalinywa
Yinsimbi eNgweya iyembiwa
Zondle, Zenzele, Sebenta ufilkile
Nemaswidi kuMatsapha buncamuncamu
Ngumbhobh’ umsakat’ eMbaban’ alufakwa
Sasitsi siyabhudza silele kusebusuku
Sasiyiphik’ inkhani silandvula
Sihlet’ emidangalazini singakholwa
Sate sakholwa mhla sichumbus’ emasakeni.
Ngitsi ngitsi ngifika kaMsunduza
Ngitsi nje Sobhuza uyinkhosi
Bangibuka phansi bangibuk’ etulu
Sebatsi ngisasholani kuts’ uSobhuza yinkhosi?
Phela selitawubuswa nguMpondompondo.
Etfukil’ onkh’ emaSwati
Nalo libhunga lemadvodza lihlet’ etinkhondvweni tonkhe takaNgwane
Abatsi libandla leMbokodvo Lingabe lisalal’ emakhaya
Alingabe lisadla nekudla
Alingabe lisageza nekugeza
Asale lijakel’ elukhetfweni.
Kudl’ akudleki nkhonyane yaMahlokohla
Ngiyibonile iphuma pbansi kwetitfwetfwe
Ngoba leSiphofaneni liyajikeleta
Iyewubikela tikhulu teShiselweni
Kona lokuts’ emasik’ akaNgwane
Aphum’ aphelile yehheni maSwati!
lngan’ esibayeni kaLobamba
Akusavalwa nekuvalw’ emnyango
Sibone ngematfol’ asasala kubonina.
Tendlulile timoto letits’ esitolo kaNkominophondo
Letimoto tatimbimb’ emaduku kwesabeka!
Lelenye yayihlabela “Khethomthandayo”
‘Umatima lomtfwalo wehlul’ emadvodza.”
Bafundzi bemaphepha titsini tindzaba?
Mine ngivil’ angikaboni
Balile kubuswa ngumpondompondo
Bats’ inkhosi nguSobhum kuphela
Loku kufakaze tinombolo temaphepha
Tiphuma tigayw’ emathinini.
Washis’ indlu yaketfu
Walibala kushisa yakamtsakatsi.
Awusabele sewubitwa nguMahlokohla
Kani sewubitwa botishela
Bakubitela tindzaba letinkhulu
Ngoba tindzaba temcwasho
Bakubitela tindzaba letinkhulu
Ngoba tindzaba teMbokodvo kuba tibahishile.
Mfundzi wenewadzi namhlazana ivaliwe.
Lapha nasewubusa ngenkantini
Emakhos’ akaNgwan’ abusa ngemcombotsi
Emakhos’ akaNgwan’ agibel’ injomane
Wabhaca phas’ elisundv’ eMasundvwini
Emakhos’ akaNgwan’ abhac’ emigedzeni
Utsite tidzandzan’ atiyowungcwatjw’ eKhasino
Emakhos’ akaNgwan’ atsi
Atingwatjw’ etaleni kubonina
Wase usakata ngemsakato
Utsite wena wentela
Translated by Phindile Alice Dlamini,
from The Teaching of Oral Literaure in Secondary Schools: a Critique
(MA Dissertation, University of Cape Town, 2000)
- Mahlokohla: Another name for Ngwane V, King of Swaziland 1895–1899, and Sobhuza’s father.
- A madman who predicted Hitler would win the war and dine in Durban and Mbabane, Swaziland’s capital city.
- Sobhuza is credited with winning the war for the allies.
- These four lines refer to different towns and regions of Swaziland. Notice the soldiers are no longer identified by regiments, but as coming from all parts of the country.
- Nkhanini: Sobhuza’s mother’s village at Lobamba, the royal capital, and site of the annual ncwala or rain ceremony.
- Lobamba: The traditional, spiritual, and legislative centre of Swaziland, seat of the Parliament, and residence of the Ntombi, the Queen Mother.
- An oblique reference to Sobhuza’s English trip of 1922, when the weather (blocker of all outlets) failed to stop him, and his status matched that of King George V.
- Sigeja: A traditional upper body garment made from cow’s tails.
- The meaning is, “given that he is not Sobhuza, the king of kaNgwane, the king of the Swazis” etc.
- Brian Marwick was British Resident Commissioner charged with preparing Swaziland for independence, beginning with an elected Legislative Council and a re‐organised Trade Union movement. Sobhuza responded by forming a royalist political party, the Imbokodvo, or “Grindstone”.
- The Havelock Asbestos mine, a centre of labour militancy, was located in Hhohho in the north‐west. In May 1963, miners went on strike demanding an increase in wages. When other workers came out in sympathy and an angry crowd march on the capital Mbabane, British troops were dispatched from Kenya to restore order. On this issue, Sobhuza and Marwick were in agreement.
- Prince Makhosini Dlamini, great‐grandson of Sobhuza I, was Sobhuza II’s chief negotiator on Marwick’s proposed constitution, setting up the Legislative Council. He became the first leader of the Imbokodvo party and afterwards Prime Minister. Nkhungwini is in the extreme south‐east on the South African border, south of Big Bend.
- The Havelock mine was 10km west of the town of Piggs Peak.
- Mdzimba: A stony mountain overlooking Lobamba.
- Sugar cane cutters from Mhlume and Big Bend joined the strike, as did domestic workers in Mbabame.
- Dumisa Dlamini leader of the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC) which called the strike “demanding a pound a day”.
- The imbongi accuses Marwick of fomenting trade unions and appeals to Sobhuza not to give in. In fact, it was Marwick who summoned British troops from Kenya to break the strike.
- Matsapha: The airport. The imbongi is shifting to describe the benefits of Sobhuza’s rule.
- Can any reader explain the references in these three lines? Mhlosheni was the site of Ngwane III’s capital, but otherwise the references are obscure.
- Swazi territory was sold many times (see Praises of Mbandzeni), but the first such transactions took place in 1846 and 1855 under Mswati II when land with unspecified boundaries was sold to Boer settlers for 170 cattle.
- Another name for Ngwane V, Sobhuza’s father.
- The following 12 lines list various development schemes introduced under Sobhuza.
- Meaning tarred roads.
- Though, as noted, Sobhuza was opposed to one man one vote. The reference here is to the 1964 elections.
- It was rumoured Swazis were too drunk to understand how to vote.
- Msunduzi is a municipality which includes Pietermaritzburg, the capital of Kwa‐Zulu in South Africa. Imbongi Mhlabeleli’s point is that outside Swaziland people assumed Sobhuza’s reign was over with the coming of multi‐party democracy.
- The royalist party.
- Mahlokohla: Another name for Ngwane V, King of Swaziland 1895–1899, and Sobhuza’s father.
- Sidvokodvo is a town on the main road south of Manzini, the main commercial centre. Siphofaneni is to the south‐west of Manzini, on a winding road leading to Big Bend, one of the centres of opposition to Sobhuza.
- Shiselweni: The south‐west region of Swaziland, where the first Swazis settled on their migration from the wars of Shaka Zulu.
- Nkominophondo Khumalo, a prominent Swazi businessman campaigning for Imbokodzvo.
- Imbokodzvo won all 8 seats with 85.5% of the vote.
- In the following lines, Sobhuza is challenged six times, by the people, by his father Nwane V, and by the country’s teachers, among others, to explain Imbokodzvo’s policies. House burner because the king seems at times more like a destroyer. See below for specific examples.
- In 1960, Sobhuza had twice summoned colonial officials and his own councillors to “landmark” meetings at the Masundvwini palace, at which he laid out his vision of Swaziland’s future.
- A periods of chastity imposed by the king on teenaged girls, culminating in the Umhlanga or Reed Dance, when they dance before the king.
- Praises emphasising Sobhuza’s role as teacher — commentator, news reader (as on the radio), and one able to read even books that are closed.
- Imbongi Mhlabeleli gives fives examples of Sobhuza updating the traditional ways of doing things. He drinks beer, but it’s bottled beer, he travels but by train not on horseback etc.
- The wild date palm.
- Not literally true. Imbongi Mhlabeleli is commentating sarcastically about Casino prostitution.
- Sobhuza retains complete control over what is said.