Somhlolo Day is a public holiday in eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) observed on September 6th.
Also known as Sobhuza Day, this is the National Day of eSwatini and commemorates the day that Swaziland gained independence from Britain in 1968.
Today eSwatini is the smallest landlocked country in the Southern Hemisphere and the second smallest country in continental Africa. In the middle of the nineteenth century under the leadership of King Sobhuza I (Ngwane IV), Swaziland was twice the size it is today.
Caught between the British and the Boers, the Pretoria Convention of 1881 guaranteed Swaziland’s ‘independence’ but this freedom came at a price as the convention also defined its borders, with Swaziland losing large parts of its territory.
After the Boer administration collapsed at the end of the Anglo-Boer War in 1903, the British took control of Swaziland as a protectorate.
Movements towards independence gained pace in 1964 with the adoption of Swaziland’s first constitution. This was followed by a new constitution in 1967 which provided for the introduction of self-government once independence is gained.
On September 6th, 1968, Swaziland was granted formal independence within the Commonwealth.
This national holiday is named after King Sobhuza I (Ngwane IV), who was king between 1805 and 1839, and who was nicknamed ‘Somhlolo’ (The Wonder) and is considered the founder of Swaziland.
In April 2018, King Mswati III of Swaziland announced that he was renaming the country “the Kingdom of eSwatini”, the name it went by prior to British colonialism. The monarch announced the official change in a stadium during celebrations for the 50th anniversary of Swazi independence. The celebrations also marked the King’s 50th birthday.