Swaziland is a Kingdom; it’s one of the last remaining absolute monarchies in the world.
Interesting Facts about Swaziland
- Swaziland is a Kingdom; it’s one of the last remaining absolute monarchies in the world. The King of Swaziland rules by decree over his subjects, the majority of whom follow the traditional ways of life.
- The Kingdom of Swaziland has a struggling economy: until the year 2015 Swaziland benefit from the preferential access textile importers had to the United States; however, this was withdrawn over concerns regarding human rights.
- Sugar is an export of Swaziland, while many Swazis actually work in South Africa.
- Sadly, UNICEF statistics show that Swaziland has the world’s highest HIV prevalence rate. Thousands of children have been orphaned due to the HIV-AIDS virus, and today it’s estimated that more than 200,000 people are living with HIV.
- At the age of 18, King Mswati III was crowned in 1986: he succeeded his father King Sobhuza II who passed away at the age of 82.
Swaziland: A Brief History
In the 16th century the Bantu people migrated southwest to the area of Mozambique; then in the 18th century a number of clans separated from the main body and settled in Swaziland. These clans became a tribe in the 19th century partly due to their constant conflict with the Zulu people. In the 1840s their ruler appeal to the British for help with the Zulu people, and the Transvaal and British governments guaranteed Swaziland independence in 1881.
Swaziland was held as a protectorate by South Africa from the years 1894 to 1899, but in 1902, following the Boer War, Swaziland was transferred to British administration. In 1941 the paramount chief was recognized as the native authority; the territory was constituted a protectorate in 1963, then in 1968 Swaziland became an independent nation.
Thousands of Swazis faced starvation in the year 2002 following two years of drought, bad planning, and poor agricultural practices. While the people suffered, a quarter of the national budget ($50 million) was used to buy the King a luxury jet! Then a third year of drought befell the country in 2004, and while the AIDS epidemic spiraled out of control and the people faced starvation, the King’s plans for building multimillion dollar palaces for his 12 wives (at that time) were condemned by human rights groups and international donor agencies.
Social Stratification: Castes and Classes
There’s an obvious and sharp social division between urban and rural residents in Swaziland, which reflects the growth of the middle class. The ranking of clans is determined by their relationship to the King and Heads of State. The royal clan is known as the Nkosi Dlamini clan, and this is the highest clan; followed by the clan traditionally described as ‘Bearers of Kings’ which are clans that have provided queen mothers. Interestingly, when it comes to co-wives, the ranking wife will usually be determined by clan membership, not by order of marriage. The main obvious marker of status and education, apart from dress, is knowledge of the English language.
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