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Little Known Kingdom Of Eswatini, Africa’s Last Absolute Monarchy

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Eswatini, officially the Kingdom of Eswatini and formerly known in English as Swaziland, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. It is bordered by Mozambique to its northeast and South Africa to its north, west, and south.

The capital cities are Mbabane and Lobamba. This kingdom seats on a territorial size with Area: 17,364 km² with a Population: 1.136 million. Their currency is known as: Swazi lilangeni. For example 1000 Swazi lilangeni= U$61.16.

Mswati III aged 52, (full names Makhosetive Dlamini ) is the king of Eswatini and head of the Swazi Royal Family. He was born in Manzini in the Protectorate of Swaziland to King Sobhuza II and one of his younger wives, Ntfombi Tfwala.

Artifacts indicating human activity dating back to the early Stone Age have been found in the Kingdom of Eswatini. Prehistoric rock art paintings date from c. 25,000 B.C. and continuing up to the 19th century can be found in various places around the country.

The area that is now eSwatini has been inhabited for millennia, and human-like remains possibly dating back as far as 100,000 years have been discovered around the Lebombo Mountains in eastern eSwatini.

However, today’s Swazis trace their ancestors to much more recent arrivals. By around AD 500, various Nguni groups had made their way to the region as part of the great Bantu migrations.

One of these groups settled in the area around present-day Maputo (Mozambique), eventually founding the Dlamini dynasty. In the mid-18th century, in response to increasing pressure from other clans in the area, the Dlamini king, Ngwane III, led his people southwest to the Pongola River, in present-day southern eSwatini and northern KwaZulu-Natal.

This became the first Swazi heartland. Ngwane’s successor, Sobhuza I, established a base in the Ezulwini Valley, which still remains the centre of Swazi royalty and ritual.

Next came King Mswazi (or Mswati), after whom the Swazi take their name. Despite pressure from the neighbouring Zulu, Mswazi succeeded in unifying the whole kingdom. From the mid-19th century, eSwatini attracted increasing numbers of European farmers in search of land for cattle, as well as hunters, traders and missionaries.

Over the next decades, the Swazis saw their territory whittled away as the British and Boers jostled for power in the area. In 1902, following the Second Anglo-Boer War, the Boers withdrew and the British took control of eSwatini as a protectorate.

Struggle for Independence Swazi history in the early 20th century centred on the ongoing struggle for independence.

reed dance

Under the leadership of King Sobhuza II (guided by the capable hands of his mother, Lomawa Ndwandwewho, who acted as regent while Sobhuza was a child), the Swazis succeeded in regaining much of their original territory. This was done in part by direct purchase and in part by British government decree.

This was a major development, as Swazi kings are considered to hold the kingdom in trust for their subjects, and land ownership is thus more than just a political and economic issue.

Independence was finally achieved – the culmination of a long and remarkably nonviolent path – on 6 September 1968, 66 years after the establishment of the British protectorate.

The first Swazi constitution was largely a British creation, and in 1973 the king suspended it on the grounds that it did not accord with Swazi culture.

Four years later parliament reconvened under a new constitution vesting all power in the king. Sobhuza II died in 1982, at that time the world’s longest-reigning monarch.

In 1986 the young Mswati III ascended the throne, where he continues today to represent and maintain the traditional Swazi way of life and to assert his pre-eminence as absolute monarch.

Culture and Customs

The Kingdom of Eswatini is also renowned for its wealth of culture. With ceremonies and festivities (like the famous “reed dance” and the Marula Festival) taking place all year long.

In eSwatini, it’s customary for women to not eat the head or feet of a cow. It is believed that if a woman eats the brains of a cow, she will become intelligent; if she eats the tongue, she will talk back to her husband; and if she eats the feet, she will run away. For the same reason, Swazis say that you should never buy your wife a pair of shoes.

Dance is key to the Swazis’ cultural identity, and every single member of the community is expected to participate during cultural celebrations. Every year, 10,000 young women perform for the Queen Mother at the Umhlanga (Reed Dance Festival), while the men get their turn before the king at the Incwala, which takes place during the summer solstice. Not surprisingly, the dancers were the most important part of the 50:50 celebrations.

eSwatini’s kings are polygamous. Mswati III has 15 wives and his father, Sobhuza II (the longest reigning monarch in history) had 70. That makes for a huge number of princes and princesses. You can generally spot a member of the royal family in a crowd because they are entitled to wear red feathers in their hair.

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Culture

Maasai Cultural Chief Wins ‘Wisdom Treasure Award’

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A US based organisation, the Sacred Fire Foundation has awarded a Maasai cultural chief Salaton ole Ntutu for his efforts in preserving culture.

The award handed over the weekend is known as ‘Wisdom Treasure Award’ at David Bower Center, Berkeley in USA.

Maasai Chief Salaton ole Ntutu, 67, is the first African to win the award.

A self-styled Maasai cultural ambassador has traversed several countries abroad to showcase the much-adored Maasai culture.

According to the foundation that was founded in 2007, Ntutu is the tenth annual award winner this year. He was found to be dedicated to keeping his culture alive and thriving.

“He champions self-sustaining initiatives in the areas of employment, water, women’s rights, education, conservation, and tourism through organisations he has co-founded,” read the attribute.

Ntutu founded the Enkiteng Lepa, a community-based organisation, that protects cultural values, ceremonies, and traditions while working to eliminate harmful practices such as female circumcision and early marriage.

In 2009, Ntutu founded the Maji Moto Maasai Cultural Camp whose proceeds fund progressive projects and promote the value of his community’s traditions.

“A lifelong dream for Salaton is to demonstrate that people can thrive by simultaneously preserving traditions and respecting the natural world, and while doing so, can increase awareness of the criticality of indigenous wisdom for all humankind,” said the Sacred Fire Foundation in a statement. Ntutu traveled to the US last week to receive the award.

 

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Culture

Law Forces Couples in Japan To Share Surname

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In Japan Couples Forced To Share Surname

Married couples in Japan are obliged to share Surname subject to provisions of the law.

A Japenese top court on Wednesday ruled that legal provisions forcing married couples to use the same surname are constitutional, upholding a Supreme Court judgment from 2015.

The latest decision on a more than century-old provision based on the Civil Code and the family register law dismissed requests filed by three couples in 2018 to keep their separate surnames after local governments refused to accept their marriage registrations.

The decision handed down by presiding Justice Naoto Otani at the Supreme Court’s Grand Bench, populated by all 15 justices, came at a time when families have become more diverse and public opinion on surname sharing has shifted in Japan.

Under Japanese law, married couples are not allowed separate surnames and have to choose one or the other. About 96 percent choose the man’s surname. (Same-sex marriage is not legal in Japan.)

Japanese politicians have historically opposed couples having separate surnames, reasoning that it would “damage the unity of a family.”

However, an online opinion poll in November showed that 70% of people supported the right of married couples to have separate surnames, even if most would still choose to adopt the same name.

Ayano Sakurai, a gender equality activist, organized a petition in December asking for a selective surname system that garnered more than 30,000 signatures in just five days.

Married three years ago, Sakurai said changing her legal surname left her “feeling like zero and having to start afresh to build an entirely new identity.”

Japan’s Enforcing of Same Surnames for Couples Has Only a Short History. It was not until the early Meiji era (1868–1912), that the general public could even use surnames.

They are said to have been introduced to improve the family registration system for the purpose of collecting taxes and managing military enlistment.

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Culture

Tanzanian Woman MP In Tight Pants Kicked Out Of Parliament

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Defiant Condester Michael Sichlwe has hit local and regional media headlines for doing the unthinkable in Tanzania – she arrived at parliament wearing a very tight fitting trouser that forced the entire house to gaze wondering what had become of her.

In quick reaction to Sichlwe’s wardrobe, the Speaker of Parliament Job Ndugai threw her out for wearing ‘non-parliamentary attire’.

They called it “indecent attire” claiming parliamentarians (especially women) should uphold highest moral standards in their clothing. In specific, they said her trouser is “too tight” hence asked to leave the chamber and change.

Tanzania, including the island of Zanzibar, is a deeply conservative country. Wearing revealing clothing is disrespectful and it’s always best to dress modestly.

Traditionally, women wear long skirts, but it’s fine for visitors to wear trousers or jeans that aren’t too form-fitting. Both men and women should cover their knees and shoulders in public.

Tanzanians are a polite people and probably won’t point out when you make a cultural misstep, but that doesn’t stop them silently tsk-tsking when they see mzungu (foreign visitors) wearing inappropriate clothes, kissing in public, or committing other etiquette blunders.

In Zanzibar, you might be tempted to stroll around in shorts and swimwear, but remember the island is predominantly Muslim. On the beach, you can get away with skimpy attire, but as soon as you set foot in a village, be sure to cover up.

Make it simple and buy yourself a kanga – a colorfully printed wrap that local women use as skirts, headwraps, and baby slings. When wearing one, keep modesty in mind and don’t tie it so tightly around your waist; it’s better if your curves aren’t clearly outlined.

Touching other people, or food, with your left hand, is a no-no. Don’t shake hands, eat, or give money and gifts with this hand as it’s reserved for toilet business.

Use the right hand instead. If you’re invited to eat with a local family, don’t sniff your food or decline to taste a dish, or you risk insulting the chef.

You should also remember that Tanzania is a conservative country, so resist kissing or touching your significant other in public – even if you’re on your honeymoon in Zanzibar!

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