Mbandzeni or Dlamini IV (1858-1889) became King of the Swazi in 1874; it was during his reign that much Swazi land was lost to the Boers in concessions.

Mbandzeni’s royal capital was at Embekelweni. After the death of the previous king, Ludonga, the Royal Council (Liqoqo) met and decided to ask Sisile Khumalo, the late king’s mother, to select from among the sons of Mswati (q.v.) the one she will adopt as her son to take the throne. Sisile chose Mbandzeni, who was given the title Dlamini IV.

At Mbandzeni coronation, a party of 400 Boers attended and acted as representatives of the Government of the South African Republic. While to the Swazis this was looked upon as a simple act of courtesy from neighbors, the Boers regarded their presence as a demonstration of the fact that they were protecting Swaziland against her own internal problems. They Boers believed that they had come to install the king. They also came to find out whether the Swazis were to be “accepted as the subjects of the Republic or protected allies”. Indeed, after the coronation an agreement was signed between Mbandzeni and leaders of the Boer delegation. In this agreement the Boers guaranteed the independent statehood of the Swazis.

It was during Mbandzeni”s reign that the Boers and British appeared to officially recognize the independence of the Swazi, in the Convention of Pretoria (1881). The Pretoria Convention that followed was one concessions. Mbandzeni appealed to Theophilus Shepstone (q.v.) for advice in dealing with the Europeans, and Shepstone seconded his son, ‘Offy’ Shepstone, to Mbandzeni. The young Shepstone advised the Swazi up to 1887, enriching himself from the king’s funds the process. The last years of Mbandzeni’s life witnessed a great rush of white speculators from South Africa attempting to grab concessions from the dying king. By the time of his death, Swaziland was almost completely under the control of European concessionaires.

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