Attractions
Region: Hhohho
Attraction Type: Culture/People

 

Mbabane

Mbabane is Swaziland’s capital and largest city with a population of around 100,000. Located on the Mbabane River and its tributary the Polinjane River in the Mdimba Mountains, the average elevation of the city is 1243 meters making for a more moderately humid, subtropical climate. The average annual temperature is 15°C in July and 22°C in January. Temperatures low enough to cause frost are rarely seen within the year and the city has experienced snow just three times in over 100 years.

The capital derives its name from a Chief, Mbabane Kunene, who lived in the area when British settlers arrived. The current town dates back to 1887 and the area rapidly became part of the transport route from the Transvaal to Mozambique- later known as Ndelakayomi (path never empty) due to such heavy traffic.

In 1902, the newly established British protectorate chose Mbabane as their new headquarters due to it being cooler than their previous administration in Manzini.

Mbabane may well not have become the capital of Swaziland had the British not won the Anglo-Boer war. During the 1890’s, the Boer administration had earmarked Manzini (then Bremersdorp) for the main centre, preferring the warm climate of the Middleveld area. All that changed when the British won the war and Swaziland subsequently became a protectorate of Britain. This followed protests by the Swazis
against becoming a dependency
 of the Transvaal Republic and a request was made to Queen Victoria to
 establish a protectorate over them.
“’Not because they love her the 
more, but because they feared 
her the less’”, wrote author Allister 
Miller” (From 'Mbabane into the 
Millennium' published 1999).


Mbabane was founded in 1903 when Swaziland fell under British
protection and the new government opted for the cooler climate of the Highveld. In any case, Bremersdorp had been looted
 and burned down! The city, the meaning of whose name is believed to originate from a “small and bitter Highveld plant” that
 grew in the area, is named after Chief Mbabane Kunene, whose clan occupied the Dalriach farm which is now a major residential suburb. The origins of the town may be traced back to 1887 when Bombardier Mickey Wells, recorded as being the first European settler and who was, by all accounts, something of a character, opened a primitive hotel, restaurant and store in the area.

Mbabane now also boasts a brand new and ground breaking treasure, the Coronation Cycle Park. The Cycle Park, managed by local cycling club Vélo Cycle eSwatini in partnership with the Epilepsy Organisation and the Municipal Council of Mbabane, offers a technical and pioneering circuit in and around the Coronation Park, with obstacles made up of wooden bridges including a 6 meter drop bridge, twisted pallets and rocky sections. The Park offers routes to suit any skill level, from children to experienced mountain biking experts.

Mbabane is now also home to the new White Orchid Day Spa. Situated at The Place, overlooking the Mbabane Golf Club, the spa offers a wide variety of treatments.