Swati Tribe, Culture and Language

Swazi King

The Swati, also known as Swazi, are a people from the southern regions of Africa who maintain a unique identity even to this day. They currently reside mainly in the countries of Swaziland, South Africa and Mozambique. The following is an overview of the Swati people.

Swati (Swazi) Tribe, Culture and Language


Swazi King

Swati Tribe

The Kingdom of Swaziland is officially the “land of the Swati”, but more Swati live in South Africa than in Swaziland. The Swati people originated as a clan in central Africa in the fifteenth century. They were initially a part of the Nguni tribe. They reached the present day Swaziland in 1750. There they formed their own political and economic identity. They were once renowned for the export of ivory and had trade relations with the Dutch. During the period of colonialism they got into frequent wars with the Zulus, but they refused any help from the British. Since colonialism they have been struggling to maintain their unique political, economic, linguistic and cultural identity.

Swati Culture

The Swati people still prefer wearing their colourful, traditional dresses. The Swati society is strongly patriarchal in nature. There is a twist here though. The queen mother can dominate the king. In fact, selecting the next king is like selecting the next queen mother. Swati society maintains strong class distinctions. There is a distinction made between the status of rural and urban people as well as between the status of clans. The closer to the king, the higher the status of a clan. Swati marriage is seen as a union of two families. There are two types of marriage prevalent in the modern times. One is the western form of civil marriage where polygamy is prohibited and divorce allowed. The other one is the traditional form of marriage. A traditional marriage is initiated by the request of the mothers of the couple to the fathers of the couple. A dowry is paid for the bride. For females, the marriage bond is considered to be very strong. When a husband dies and a widow marries again, the children of the new husband are still considered to belong to the first husband. A traditional household consists of the headman, his wives, unmarried siblings, daughters and sons with their wives and children. With the exception of daughters, all females within the household are considered outsiders. Modern families in towns are mostly nuclear families though. Infants were traditionally not considered persons until they were two months old. Parents arranged for socializing of children when they reached the age of three. As for dietary habits, the Swati people considers fish to be taboo for all, egg to be taboo for females and dairy to be taboo for wives. In the sphere of religious belief most Swatis are Christian but most also retain their traditional beliefs in witchcraft, sorcery and traditional healing.

Swati Langauge

The Swati language is a Bantu language of the Nguni group, closely related to Zulu. Swati is one of the two official languages of Swaziland (along with English), and one of the eleven official languages of South Africa. The four administrative areas of Swaziland each has its own distinct dialect of the Swati language. Swati language also comes in two variety of styles. One is a royal, aristocratic style spoken in some regions of Swaziland, while the other a crude style spoken elsewhere.

See Also:

Tsonga Culture People and Language

Xhosa Tribe, Culture and Language

Truths About Afrikaners

  • Wynand Bothma

    Completely idiotic article, completely wrong facts… You guys are describing the Orania Afrikaners here, your generalization is completely biased!

  • Alida Viljoen

    I have never seen such a stereotypical load of crap!! Articles like these make me want to distance myself so damn far from this “Afrikaner” group, and I am a white, Afrikaans-speaking girl from French and Dutch descent… Good grief!
    That staff writer seems to have observed some strange, obscure, small clan of “Afrikaners” somewhere in a very remote part of the country and seems to know nothing about the cultural landscape of South Africa.

    There are so many misconceptions in this article… Here’s 3:

    1) Naming the first born after the (grand-)parents? Maybe this was the norm 50 years ago, but it is not that prevalent today.

    2) “[…]allowed to start courting at the age of 16 […] presented as adults at the age of 21.” Where on earth does this come from? Maybe in a few select families, yes. But it’s definitely NOT standard practice or even part of the general Afrikaner culture.

    3) As for the hobbies and the division of labour (with a “u”, as we’re using British English) – that is also a load of crap. Maybe those were the “traditional” hobbies in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but they’re definitely not the general set of “things do to” for a modern Afrikaner.

    Check your facts and many interview, oh, I don’t know, 500 families, THEN you can write an article about a specific “ethnic group”.

  • Riaan Grobler

    How utterly ridiculous. Apart from the many grammatical errors in this cretinous post, the assumption that Afrikaners are this homogeneous and archaic is ignorant and completely uninformed. How insulting to so many people of Afrikaner descent.

  • http://wolfieinu.deviantart.com/ PrtScrSysReq

    Valiant attempt, but about 200 years out of date! As an Afrikaner myself, I can provide you with an update:

    1. Religion
    Afrikaners, like most people, have all kinds of various opinions on religion. They are most likely to have a Protestant background of some description, but their exact opinions on the truth of religion or its role in society could be pretty much anything. The only reason that apartheid got mixed up in all this is because the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) set itself up as a state church and therefore it fell on them to justify government policy to some degree; segregation is not inherent to Afrikaner views on religion.

    2. Right of Passage
    Afrikaners don’t have a universal right of passage, though the Matric dance fulfills that role for some people. Their names are often not family names these days, but rather are from TV shows or are made up by adding up the parents’ names into new and horrifying combinations of syllables that were never meant to be juxtaposed that way.

    3. Cultural Relationships
    I don’t really know what that means, but going by your example … at a braai, usually the men are the ones who braai the meat and the women make salad. At a LAN, usually the men do most of the gaming and the women go to the other room and watch a chick flick or something, because shooting digital people bores them to tears. When you leave an Afrikaner’s house after visiting there, they consider it polite to see you off formally to the point of waving at your departing car as you drive away.

    4. Family Values
    Highly variable, running the gamut of most views common in Western countries. On the amount of children, most Afrikaners consider 2-3 children to be the norm; this number was much higher in the past due to lack of birth control, as well as high infant mortality rates (as in most places in the world in the 19th century and earlier) pressuring people to have more children so that more of them would survive to adulthood.

    5. Hobbies
    Anything and everything under the sun, though some of the more unique hobbies include making biltong and constantly threatening to emigrate but never doing so.

    There you go – now you’re up to date :)

  • Malachus

    Wat a pot KAK!

  • Jaco Jooste

    this is bullshit! im drinking on a NY

  • Carolien

    Hi there, the Aparthied regime started in 1948, not in 1654 when dutch settlers came to the Cape. Are you actually retarded?

  • lurker133

    Too bad they didn’t just replace the original text with this comment. Would have save me a lot of useless reading

  • http://wolfieinu.deviantart.com/ PrtScrSysReq

    Glad to be of service! :)

  • Odette Greyling

    Oops, according to this article, my family is not Afrikaans. This is a very insulting article and full of incorrect statements.

  • Barbara

    Tell me do you work for Fox America????????????????