Somhlolo Day is the name for “Independence Day” in Swaziland, and it is celebrated every 6 September, the day in 1968 when Swaziland gained its independence from the British Empire.
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Swaziland, the traditional homeland of the Swazi people, was under colonial rule relatively briefly and somewhat incompletely. Though surrounded by the British Cape Colony, it was only a “protectorate” of the British crown. And this status only began in 1906.
As early as 1921, a Swazi legislature came into existence, though it was a farce since it only allowed white representatives in an overwhelmingly black country. Also in 1921, Sobhuza II became “leader” of Swaziland and initiated a movement to protect his nation’s cultural identity.
When “real” elections were finally held in 1964, all seats were won by nationalist-supporting candidates. Only four years later, Britain let Swaziland go its own way. In 1968, it became an independent constitutional monarchy, and in 1973, it became an absolute monarchy.
Today, special Independence Day events are held annually in the Somhlolo National Stadium in the nation’s capital city of Lobamba. And there are local, smaller celebrations and patriotic or cultural displays throughout the country.