Kingdom of Swaziland
• Location: Southern Africa
• Capital: Mbabane
• Language(s): English, SiSwati
• Population: 1,225,106
• Total Area: 17,364 sq km
• Currency: Lilangeni
• Curious Alcohol Fact:
• Annual Average Liquor Consumption Per Capita: 5.68 liters
• Most Popular Drink(s): Traditional beer (Umkombotsi)
The last absolute monarchy in Africa, Swaziland is a very interesting nation and one that is steeped in tradition and culture. Landlocked by location, the nation is bordered by Mozambique and South Africa. The capital city is Mbabane and that is also the seat of royal authority. The drainage of the country is interesting as there are many spectacular rivers in different parts of the country. Some of these are the Umbuluzi, Komati, Ngwavuma, Lomati and the Usutu. The geography of the nation varies from region to region as there are sprawling savannas and grasslands in some places and thick rainforests in other areas.
One thing I find very interesting when talking about this tiny monarchy is its royal family. The king (called the Ngwenyama or Lion) is Mswati III, and he is one of the youngest monarchs in the world, and as mentioned earlier, the only absolute king in Africa. King Mswati III ascended the royal seat in the mid-1980s after the demise of his father, King Sobhuza II. The Queen Mother (called the Ndlovukati or the She-Elephant) also plays a very prominent role in the running of the country. Honestly, I find these exotic titles quite exciting and nice-sounding. A vast majority of the citizens are ethnic Swazis but there is a considerable population of whites and Zulus from the neighbouring South Africa. Quite a number of Swazis are either farmers or cattle rearers.
Language and Religion
SiSwati (that is the spelling) is the official language and is spoken by a majority of the people. This language is also known as Seswati or simply Swazi. Zulu and Afrikaans are the other languages. More than 80% of the Swazis are Christians, and other are Muslims or Hindus.
If you love eating exotic foods, you will love the Swazis as they have such scintillating dishes in abundance. Beef is transformed in the kitchen by experienced women into a mouth-watering preparation known as biltong. However, this is just one of the many tasty meals awaiting you in this impressive country. There is the tinkobe and is made from corn that has been steamed and there is also the umbasha, and is prepared from corn and smoked peanuts.
Like in many of the other countries in the Southern African region, drinking is a major activity and is enjoyed with relish. There is a locally brewed beer called the umkombotsi, and in addition to this, there is the utshwala, also a local beer made from corn. Sour milk is also consumed in large quantities and is known as imaasi.
Swaziland has a unique festival called the Umhlanga or the Royal Reed Dance. This is an annual festival and one that attracts thousands of tourists from various parts of the globe. During the festival, over 20,000 topless virgins carrying freshly-cut reeds march on the capital where the King will inspect them. Tradition also demands that he selects one of the virgins as a wife. As at the last count, the King has around a dozen wives. Africa is rich and exotic, isn’t it?
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Special thanks to our contributors:
Adebayo Ahmed Adebola (Ilorin, Nigeria)
Daniel Krasnopolsky (Woodmere, NY, USA)
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