King’s Birthday is celebrated in Swaziland each 19 April, which is the birthday of the country’s current king, Mswati III.
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On 19 April, 1968, Makhosetive Dlamini, later renamed Mswati, was born to Sobhuza II, king of Swaziland. However, Sobhuza only assumed full kingly powers upon independence from the British Empire on 6 September, 1968.
Because Mswati III was born during the same year that Swazi independence was gained, King’s Birthday is also viewed as a kind of independence celebration.
When Mswati’s father, Sobhuza, died at the age of 82 in 1982, the Swazi “Great Council” elected him to be the prince who would accede to the throne. But as he was only 14 at the time, he had to wait until 1986 to be actually assume power.
Many call Mswati III the “last true absolute monarch” in Africa, based on his power to appoint virtually all top political posts and to dissolve parliament.
In 2004, Mswati III restored the parliament, which his father had earlier dissolved. He has also made steps towards full freedom of speech and other rights being recognised.