Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Swaziland not a mad country in some unstable stateheading to a letter from a reader published in the Times of Swaziland.

As any academic might be I was attempted to append the word ‘discuss’ to that statement.

For those who didn’t see the letter it comes from someone from the Netherlands who has never visited Swaziland but saw a documentary about the kingdom on television.

He didn’t say which documentary he watched but it was so powerful he felt compelled to write to the Times of Swaziland to say, ‘What I knew about Swaziland mostly circled around the absolute monarchy and so called liberators running around like chickens with no heads.

'If one was to believe most of what we hear of Swaziland, one would think it is a mad country in some unstable, revolutionary state.'

Now, he reckons he and his pals are coming to Swaziland for the FIFA World Cup next year (2010).

The letter prompted a response from the editor of the Times inviting people to ‘come visit, and experience the true royal experience, and the true beauty and tranquillity of this beautiful country’.

I hope the writer does visit Swaziland but avoids the five star hotels and instead visits the rural areas where more than 70 percent of the population live. Perhaps, the writer would care to live as an ordinary Swazi (70 percent are in abject poverty earning less than a dollar a day) in squalor without health care or clean water and at the mercy of tuberculosis and other disease.

Then he can visit some of the HIV sufferers (at 40 percent the highest rate in the world) and talk to the countless thousands of children who are now head of their household because AIDS has ravaged the Swazi population.

Then he can visit the people in prison whose main crime is poverty (they can’t pay the fine imposed upon them for often quite trivial offences so have to take a prison term as an alternative).

Then he can visit the one in three girls in Swaziland who are sexually abused by their relatives and discuss with them what a tranquil kingdom Swaziland is.

After that he can meet some of the women at Swaziland’s textile factories who are paid such poor wages they have to share one meal with three people, share a bed with six others and prostitute themselves to the local soldiers just to keep from starving.

Then he can go watch a game of football in South Africa with tens of thousands of other Europeans. He won’t see any Swazis there and hardly any black South Africans. They can’t afford a ticket.

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