Swaziland is Africa-lite on a platter. To small to be a threat to anyone except itself, this little Kingdom, the last remaining Monarchy in Africa, offers a Bright African experience for overseas guests: animal wilderness, colourful culture and beautiful craft alongside all the necessary creature comforts. With a reputation for being hospitable, every one seems happy, happy…

However all is not as it may seem in The Kingdom. Revenue from tourism and the bit of farming that takes place is not enough to support The Kingdom of Swaziland’s shrinking state coffers. A large part of the population live below the poverty line and survive on international food aid, and an incredible 40% of the population is infected with HIV. The highest infection ratio in the world.

These social struggles contrast strongly against King Maswati III’s personal fortune estimated to sit at over 60 million British Pounds and his polygamous lifestyle, although all the money in the world does not seem to be helping him keep his 14 Queen’s happy. (Read more about his misbehaving wives here. ) And to complicate matters further he seems to have an eye for the ladies in general…

While continuing to indulge in the fruits of his land his subjects struggle on and one can’t help but wonder if His Royal Highness ever stops to think about the practicalities around maintaining some of the cultural practices that he is so deeply embedded in and the long-term implications this may have for his children and his people.

Swaziland Trip 2011 

Go Fish! Mozambique Calling…

While swimming in pools of water left behind by the backing tide at Pomene –  Mozambique, we noticed large patches of darkness contrasted against the crystal clear water. Thinking these were a type of sea-weed we ventured closer and as we did so the patches moved on – millions and billions of tiny fish. Not long after, a little white box vessel came along crewed by three Mozambique fishermen, on the hunt. Further along the beach later in the day, amid the  pansy shells and coral stones we noticed large areas of sand marked off with sticks and small glass Coke-a-Cola bottles. On the sand lay millions of tiny fish drying in the sun, bringing to mind mopani worms and other tiny packets of protein that sustain people all over Africa and the world.

It is starting to feel like time for a bit more Mozambique….

Pomene, Mozambique July 2011