Swaziland is a small, landlocked monarchy in Southern Africa. It is bordered by South Africa and Mozambique. It is also one of Africa’s smallest countries. In 2018, King Mswati III who has ruled since 1985 renamed it to the kingdom of eSwatini. The name means the land of the Swazis and was changed by the king on the grounds that whenever they happen to travel abroad, they were referred to as Switzerland.
Here are some facts about Swaziland that you may consider ‘bizarre’ but it’s vital to note that these practices about the King, culture, history, traditions, and other customs are normal to them.
The Kingdom of Swaziland is an absolute monarchy, and rules by royal decree. The King is polygamous and has many wives. It is considered rude to ask how many wives the King has, but it is believed the current one has 15 although the one before him had 50.
The King’s first wife is called the State Wife. This wife he married for love, and she may not bear any children for him because it would be far more likely he would choose her as the Queen mother, which would prevent him from marrying other wives. All subsequent wives are below her, and she will be in charge of the home and living place (until he chooses a new queen mother).
Each year there is a massive traditional ceremony where all virgins who are ‘of age’ (have hit puberty) will go down to the river near the queen mother’s compound and collect reeds in a big procession. This is called the ‘reed dance.’ It is like a rite of passage for all those wanting to be wives of the King.
About 70% of the country lives below $1 per day in income but it is often difficult to count in countries like these because many people don’t earn actual cash or have a measurable income.
Many traditional clothing outfits are worn with the King’s face printed twice on it. It is considered rude to the crown and illegal to have it inside out or upside down, and you must have one face in the front and one in the back.
This country has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the world with 27.20% of its population infected and its followed closely by Botswana with an estimate of 23.4% both in the Southern part of Africa. There is also a cultural belief that you can cure your HIV/AIDS by sleeping with the youngest possible virgin. This deeply ingrained belief in some parts of Africa also poses a big problem and leads to rape.
Our cultures and beliefs as citizens of different countries are definitely different. Each country has its own ways and they deem it important.
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