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Letter From Africa: The Country That Took 50 Years To Change Its Name



As the 50th birthday of King Mswati III approached on 19 April 2018, all indications pointed towards something dramatic taking place.

King Mswati being who he is, many speculated he might outdo himself and marry two or three new brides at once rather than adding just one to the 13 he already had, as is his normal practice.

The king had wanted his country to celebrate its 50th independence anniversary on his birthday even though independence was won on 6 September 1968.

Clearly King Mswati wanted to leave no doubts in anybody’s mind that he himself was the state.

After all he and the state came into being in the same year, 1968, and they would celebrate their golden jubilee together.

As things turned out, the big announcement had nothing to do with the king acquiring a new wife. He simply announced he was changing the country’s name.

The country we all used to call the Kingdom of Swaziland will now be known as the Kingdom of eSwatini.

It might have taken them 50 years to do so, but if they have decided to correct what must be a colonial imposition of calling their country Swaziland, everybody should wish them well.

After all, eSwatini, we are told, simply means “land of the Swazis” – in other words, Swaziland.