Swaziland is a small monarchy in southern Africa. It is totally landlocked by South Africa. The country is predominantly Christian. So many people find it weird that the sangoman and the inyanga still have so much prominence. But what are they anyway?
In Swaziland, a group of people is viewed by especially the rural community as property. Which group is that? Also, there is one most abhorrent obscenity in Swaziland that most other societies in the world don’t even see as obscenity at all. What is it?
You will get the answers to these and more in the following 13 weird facts about Swaziland. Happy reading!
Capitals: Lobamba,(Royal/Legislative) Mbabane (Administrative)
King: Ngwenyema Mswati III
Prime minister: Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini
Population: 1.25 million (2013) World Bank
Currencies: Swazi lilangeni, South African rand
Government: Unitary Parliamentary Absolute Monarchy
Official Languages: Swazi, English
Weird Facts About Swaziland
1. RESPECT SANGOMA AND INYANGA
Though predominantly Christian, Swazis still adhere strongly to their historical traditions, which are widely practiced today. For example, many who are suffering from an illness will consult a sangoma to determine its cause, and thence an inyanga to prescribe a treatment. It is the height of disrespect to be disparaging towards these individuals or to refer to them as witch doctors.
2. RESPECT FOR ADULTS
When relating with adults, you will notice that children are under obligation to be deeply respectful. What you will find a bit weird however is that it is forbidden for children to establish direct eye contact with adults. In case you visit Swaziland with children, have that in mind.
3. RESPECT FOR MEN
Just like children, women especially in the rural areas must observe a weird code of conduct when relating with men. As a women visitor, don’t be shocked that women usually lower their stature than the men by bowing and never establishing eye contact with men.
4. DIRECT EYE CONTACT…WHEN?
However, generally speaking, direct eye contact is encouraged. How so? Well, it is the practice among men, among women, and among children. But this is more in the urban areas than in the rural areas. In effect, what is good for the urban is not good for the rural.
5. HOW TO SHAKE HANDS
Shaking hands is common among Swazis as part of greeting. But when shaking hands with a Swazi, learn this weird politeness: your left hand needs to be touching either your right forearm or right wrist! Learn to do same when giving or receiving something.
6. GREETING IN PASSING
Greetings might be in passing. When this is the case, here is what you will notice: Swazis raise both hands in front of their chest with palms towards the person they are greeting like in passing. In addition, they say sawubona to one person and sanibonani to two or more persons. The response is yebo.
7. RESPECT NO APPOINTMENTS
When you make an appointment with a Swazi, weird as this may sound, don’t bank on the appointment holding as scheduled. What is even weirder than being late is that they might not show up at all. It may appear that people don’t usually value or covet their own time; but this does not mean they are lavish with it either.
8. NOTHING RUNS ON TIME
Almost nothing, except death, takes place on time generally in most African countries. But it is worse in Swaziland. So-called “African time” controls it all. Be the meetings, appointments, events, transport, etc. If they hold at all, being 45 to 90 minutes late is usual. Talk about weird!
9. LAND OF THE CHAUVINIST
If you are a chauvinist, Swaziland is the country for you! This may sound weird to you, but there, women are in effect viewed as property, with little or no more rights than a minor child. When a man dies, his brother can, and usually does, tell the woman to pack her kids and leave.
10. WIVES AND CONCUBINES
In Swaziland, it is openly accepted by society for a man to marry more than one wife. The really weird part is that, in addition to his many wives, it is common for a man to have girlfriends! Could it be they are trying to emulate King Solomon?
11. RURAL FEMALE DRESS CODES
If you visit Swaziland, as a female, you are expected to observe dress codes:
- Skirts down to the ankles for women in rural areas
- Skirts just below the knees for ladies in rural areas
- Long shorts or Capri trousers for ladies in some rural areas
- Always a head gear for married women in rural areas
In some communities, a woman can be fined or even beaten for breaking these dress codes.
12. URBAN FASHIONISTAS
In urban areas, the dress codes do not necessarily hold. On the contrary, you might find it weird but refreshingly comfortable that to Swazi women, casual dress is not fanciful. In effect, “dressing up” is generally preferred to “dressing down”.
13. MOST ABHORENT OBSENITY
Every female visitor to Swaziland must learn this: the single most abhorrent obscenity is when a woman dresses with her thighs showing! It is a taboo that must be avoided! It is seen as sexual invitation and could lead to even rape. However, females of the royal family are exempt. Is that weird or what!!!