Located on the south-east side of Africa and situated west of Mozambique, is a small country stretching over 6,000 square miles with over 1,230,000 population called Swaziland. Rich in culture and breath-taking sights, this beautiful country is made up mostly of mountainous regions. The official languages of this country are SiSwati and English. Knowledge of English shows high education and boosts status. Residents in the country also speak Zulu. Common housing for the locals are “bee-hive” round doom-like roof huts which are traditionally made with dry grass. During the winter months, storage is a common practice. The main diet of the local people consists of vegetables, roots and fruits, and sometimes slaughtered meats. Many refrain from eating fish, eggs, particular birds and wild animals. As for religion, more than 80% of the population adheres to Christianity. And who is in charge of this amazing country? The ruler of Swaziland is King Mswati III. Many of us may not be familiar with this monarch.
Here are 10 Things You Didn’t Know About King Mswati III.
#1 – King Mswait’s birth name is Makhosetive Dlamini, which means “King of Nations”. Swaziland became independent from Great Britain only four years before the King took office.
#2 – When King Mswati III was crowned at an occasion known as “Incwala”, or “First Fruits Ceremony” he was the youngest ruling monarch at the time in the world, on April 25, 1986 at the age of 18. This ritual is normally held in December or January on a day chosen by astrologers in conjunction with the moon and the sun. This ceremony lasts several days.
When Mswati’s father, King Sobhuza II died, Mswati was only 14 years old. Because Mswati was still attending school at this time, two of his father’s queens (Queen Dzeliwe Shongwe, and Queen Ntombi Tfwala) stepped in as regent until Mswati could have position of the throne.
#3 – Currently, the King has 15 wives and 24 children. Under Swaziland law, his first two wives are chosen for him by his national councilors. He can only marry his brides once they become pregnant to prove they can produce heirs.
#4 – In May 2012, Mswati visited Windsor Castle to join Queen Elizabeth II of England to celebrate her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee, along with 45 royal guests from around the world. Reports state that during this visit, human rights campaigners were holding a protest outside his hotel complaining of the King’s “lavish lifestyle” while his own people “suffer from starvation.”
#5 – According to “Forbes 2009 List of World’s 15 Richest Royals” Mswati is on this list and is estimated to be worth $200 Million US Dollars. After haven been criticized for purchasing luxury cars, he has now banned photography of his vehicles.
#6 – King Mswati usually picks his brides from an annual dance. The “Umhlanga” meaning “ceremony” is performed every year by young eligible maidens. This is a well known Swaziland traditional dance for these young ladies to display their love for the King and their country. Women travel from all over the country to participate in this 8-day event.
#7 – King Mswati is known as “Ngweyama” meaning “The Lion”. This also symbolizes the government and “Coat of Arms”. The “Indlovukazi” meaning “Elephant” depicts The Queen Mother, as a part of this national symbol.
#8 – As part of Swazi custom, Mswati is permitted to choose a new bride every year. But not everyone is inclined to take on this role. In May of 2013 Tintswalo Ngobeni, who is now living in England, said she fled to avoid the advances of the King. She states “I was only 15 at the time when I learned of his intentions for me. He started calling me at boarding school. He would ask me if I wanted to be part of the royal family.” Miss Ngobeni has become a vocal speaker against the Swazi regime.
#9 – Mswati attended the Royal Wedding of Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton, which of course brought on more controversy about his majesty’s wealth, while his country suffers poverty.
#10 – On his 44th birthday, he was given a twin-engine McDonnell Douglas DC-9 Private Jet as a gift.
The kingdom of Swaziland is one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarch. Culture and heritage are deeply ingrained in all aspects of life. Those that have visited, say “It is a perfectly formed and welcoming country”. The motto of the Swazi people is “We are a fortress, we are a mystery.” This magnificent country certainly deserves much praise for it’s sovereignty from the world.