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Chronological Facts and Figures

by George Murdoch
1596: The cartographic masterpiece Nova Africae Tabula of J. Hondius (Dutch) shows Delagoa Bay (Lourenco Marques had been founded in 1543) .... and Davagul near present Mbabane: E. Axelson considers Davagul an Ethiopian name.
1750: Kunene clan first recorded. Later (see 1823) their chief was Mbabane in the present Nkoyoyo area. J.S.M. Matsebula gives Mbabane "a small, bitter highveld plant" as the origin of his name: the general context was that after feuds with the Kapelo tribe (probably Tongas under Slamboya) 15 clans, the core of the Swazi nation (called Bomzabuko) left the Tembi Valley in southern Mozambique and settled in the Nhlangano area, assimilating the local Sotho families of Fakudze and Shiba.The 15 founding clans were Dlamini, Hlope, Kunene, Mabuza, Madonsela, Mamba, Matsebula, Mdluli, Motsa, Ngwenya, Shongwe, Sukati,
Tsabedze, Twala and Zwane.
1823: The Swazi capital was moved north to Ezulwini in the wake of Zulu raids on southern Swaziland. King Sobhuza I, or Somhlolo (reigned 1815-36)  was shown the Mdimba Mountains strongholds by the local Pedi clans,Mnisi and Gama, who joined the Swazi nation.Mbabane Kunene and a Mabuza chief were placed between them by Sobhuza I
mbabane1960
as a mark of solidarity - Mnisi to the north and Gama to the south.
1840: King Mswati II established five ranches for grazing royal cattle, including Impolonja, or Polonjeni, just north of Mbabane.
1847: The Kunene clan was out of favour because of internal strife due to misappropriation of royal cattle. Chief Mbabane Kunene was less affected than his southern kinsmen.
1880: G. Darke established Darketown store (now Darkton).
1885: The first large-scale map of "Transvaal and Swaziland Goldfields" was drawn by H. Raddatz. He marked Mbabane and several other European settlements in Swaziland.
1887: Mbabane village was founded with the opening of a store by Bombardier M. Wells. This was 27years after the first white farming settlers arrived in Swaziland (C. Vermaak at Hluti, 1860) and 43 years after the first missionary (Rev. J. Allison at Mbukwane, 1844).
1890: Proposals for a township at Mbabane to be called Sonnenburg’s Retreat foundered, as did plans for Thorburnsville at Embekalweni.
1896: The Transvaal administration had a landdrost in Bremersdorp and veldkornets at Mankayane, Mbabane, Mkwankweni, the Peak and Stegi.
1897: Allister Miller’s Times of Swaziland was first published at Mbabane.
1902: The British established Mbabane ‘camp’ following the Treaty of Vereeniging which ended the Anglo-Boer War.
1903: Mbabane is proclaimed the capital of Swaziland
1904: Schools for European children were opened at Mbabane, The Peak and Stegi. There were already schools for Africans at Mahamba (St. Mungo founded in 1882 by D. Msimango), Gege and Hebron (Motjane).
1906: Post offices were established at Mbabane, Bremersdorp, Hlatikulu and Umhlosheni.
1907: Sir R.T. Coryndon became the first British Resident Commissioner based in Mbabane. Other district headquarters were Bremersdorp and Hlatikulu. An Mbabane-Carolina mail coach began to run twice a week and there was no other public transport.
1908: The Rev. C. Watts (later a bishop) founded St. Marks School in Mbabane.
1912: The last of the Lourenco Marques to Ohrigstad oxwagon trains made their journey but freight from L.M. for Mbabane still came up the Tembe river by barge and oxwagon. Mbabane was declared an urban area.
1917: The first aeroplane in Swaziland had to execute a forced landing near Mbabane!
1920: The first electricity in Swaziland was installed at The Residency in Mbabane where Sir D.S. Honey had succeeded Coryndon as Resident Commissioner.
1922: A bacterial laboratory for livestock smear examinations was set up in Mbabane.
1928: T.A. Dixon succeeded Honey as Resident Commissioner.
1930: The first government clinics for Africans were established, including one at Mbabane. The whole of Mbabane was supplied with electricity by a private firm. Msunduza Hall, named after T.A. Dixon was built.
The development of the proclaimed urban areas - Mbabane, Bremersdorp, Geodgegun (now Nhlangano), Hlatikulu and Stegi - was regulated with all plans to be approved by Township Advisory Boards.
1935: A.G. Marwick becomes Resident Commissioner.
1937: The new Secretariat opened in Mbabane at a cost of 6,000.00. It housed the entire administration of Swaziland until 1968 and is now a part of the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office.
1938: Chief Mnisi Dlamini pioneered wattle growing among the Swazis just north of Mbabane. C. Brunton becomes Resident Commissioner.
1940: Mbabane Central School was founded.
1942: P. Featherstone becomes Resident Commissioner.
1944: German spy F. Mazzechuratti was arrested. He had operated from Mbabane Lutheran Church tower, where the radio and machine gun were discovered, since 1942.
1945: The Mbabane Trade School (now SCOT), started.
1946: The first steps were taken to make Mbabane and Bremersdorp municipalities. The Agricultural and Veterinary Departments moved from Mbabane to Bremersdorp.
1947: The electricity plant generating 70 kW for Mbabane was bought by government for 5,500.00. The average charge was 4d. (about 17 cents at today’s exchange rate).
1950: D.L. Morgan becomes Resident Commissioner followed by Brian Marwick (later Sir Brian and nephew of A.G. Marwick).
1957: Mbabane overtakes Hlatikulu as the district with most European inhabitants.

 


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