Swazi Contrasts

King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Swaziland has just chosen his 15th wife at the 2013 Reed Dance.

 Stop-overs in Swaziland a.k.a ‘Africa For Beginners’, are a regular part of our journey North and I have come to love spending time in this complex African Kingdom,

yet the contrasts and contradictions that glare out of this strange landlocked country never cease to amaze me.

Riddled with AIDS, Worship Venues, Chiefdoms  (200 in fact), poverty and debt – the flashing electronic bill boards in the city centres continue to appeal to the population to practice ‘one man / one woman’ love while the King selects yet another teenage bride.

Along with the Head Royal’s archaic behaviour, deep rooted cultural belief embedded in inhumane practises regularly rears its scary head. A young albino child is recently dragged away from the river while washing cloths, shot and then mutilated for muti – another sad African song…

Among the chaos of Swaziland’s cultural contradictions this country continues to provide our little family with a low-key, peaceful space for  huddling before Eric flies off for another work stint.We tend to head for the hills and Malolotja National Park but on occasion we end up at Hawane – for a bit of time on the horses.

Both girls ride. Mom and Dad – not so much, so on this particular day it was the beautiful scenery that lay contrast to our bruised and bandied legs.

Nelson Mandela once said “In Countries where innocent people are dying the leaders are following their blood rather than their brains”.   Perhaps this sums up the current cultural status of Swaziland.

And so magnificent Africa continues to mystify me…

Celebrating Winter 2013 and Swaziland stop-overs.


14 thoughts on “Swazi Contrasts

  1. Bizarre. I’m reading your post and am just left with a question mark over my head. I had to look up muti. Not good.My first thought when reading about it, was whether or not my new albino puppy would be subject to it?

    As for the King? 24 kids was it, 14 wives, 13 palaces and £31m a year expenditure in a population with so much poverty and AIDS. No definitely not a good role model. And what is the Reed Dance, a cattle market by any other name?

    Good you enjoy the break though. It looks beautiful. Contrasts indeed.

    • Bizarre indeed. I suspect you would need to keep your lovely pup on a short leash! Good to hear from you. Been spending so much time on the road that blogging has taken a serious back seat but planning on some serious catch up asap.

      • You can’t have been as out of it as I have – three months without internet apart from a few visits to a café. Well locutorio actually, there was no coffee around 😀

        I’m going through blogs, little by little, but can’t hope to catch up with 3 months absence so just going back over the last month really. Sept and Oct will have to be missing links in my blogosphere.

      • Well you won’t have missed anything from my side, although I certainly was not as isolated as you. You pup looks extremely sweet. Hope the isolation was a peaceful and happy space.

  2. All countries and cultures suffer from anachronisms but Swaziland is a severe case indeed. Indeed a country of contrasts, and its story entwined with that of travels and stunning photographs is very sad, beyond sad. It’s awful to be able to see and recognise the issues but know how very difficult and far off change could be.

    • It is a strange thing – this particular form of anachronism. The King doesn’t seem to wield power in an ‘old style’ – off with their heads – type way, and I doubt that, that would be tolerated but his narcissism seems to be, excused under the guise of ‘culture’ and this causes its own brand of special damage which in some ways might be even worse.

  3. I want to say that apathy is an affliction for a people with no hand in government, but in America, where we choose our leaders, we are similarly affected. It is a presumption upon which all corrupted leaders rely and all that safeguards their power.
    The horses and pictures are beautiful; their serenity contrast sharply with the problems you mention. Nicely done!

    • Thanks. Down here in the ‘Wild West’ I suspect that apathy is also a result of ongoing experiences of non-delivery and fear – factors that seem to underpin African Governing styles – although in South Africa blatant corruption seems to have taken over from intimidation and fear as the rule of the day. I guess this is not unique to Africa by any means, but it is sad when one considers our recent history and what people did and went through to gain freedom. It is going to be interesting to see how long the majority of South Africans remain apathetic while former freedom fighters now fight over money as babies die due to non-delivery.

  4. I read this with special interest because I’ve recently become friends with some South Africans, one of whose husbands is originally from Swaziland. He has been away and in America for decades, but has happy memories of Swaziland, so I’m not sending this along to him —
    But I have no doubt that you are accurate and fair in what you say. It is a complex country, and a complex continent.

    • Extremely complex, but Swaziland is still beautiful now as it was back when your friend lived there. One of the reasons we keep returning is because of its beauty – not the landscape as such but the ‘feel’ of its people – which is why I get so frustrated with the lousy leadership! I am sure that if he went back to visit he would have a wonderful experience.

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