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Monday, July 21, 2008

Sobhuza II

22 July is the birthday of the late King of Swaziland, Sobhuza II and a national day of observance.

Since unemployment exceeds 40 per cent in Swaziland, it is difficult to tell whether or not it is a national holiday. Swaziland is a young country on account of a life expectancy of 32 - the world's lowest, but not so vibrant, on account of its rate of HIV infection - the world's highest.

King Sobhuza II married 70 wives, and had 210 children between 1920 and 1970. About 180 children survived infancy. When he died he had over 1000 grandchildren.

Much like the Australian Labor Party, Swaziland is a kleptocracy - a small entity that benefits a minority whose participation in it is safeguarded by relations with power.


Col. Milquetoast said...

Swaziland can often be confused with Switzerland due to the similarities of their name, their both being landlocked and... um... their both having human residents.

I checked wikipedia for further information about Swaziland and discovered the following (some of which might be true) :

"the king reigns along with his mother or a ritual substitute, the Ndlovukati (lit. She-Elephant)"

In 1973, King Sobhuza suspended the Constitution and was backed by a parliamentary majority.

"According to tradition, he can only marry his fiancées after they have fallen pregnant, proving they can bear heirs. Until then, they are liphovela." Whatever liphovela is.

"In 2001, he tried to respond to the AIDS crisis by introducing a five year ban on sex in the country" which, surprisingly, did not apply to the monarch.

"all unmarried women were placed under the chastity rite of "umcwasho"... he violated this decree when he married a 17-year-old girl, who became his 13th wife. As per custom, he was fined a cow by members of her regiment, which he duly paid."

The current king of Swaziland has only 14 wives and 23 children at the moment.

Richard Rooney said...

I was interested to see you taking an interest in Swaziland. It is indeed a kingdom with many problems - some of them to do with King Mswati III.

I have my own blog about Swaziland which deals with 'human rights' and similar issues.

Come visit.