Monday, March 22, 2010


There was a definite ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ moment in Swaziland at the weekend.

The Weekend Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, ran a report of King Mswati addressing soldiers during Army Day with a headline saying, LEARN FROM ME, KEEP FIT – KING TELLS SOLDIERS’.

Keep fit? Like King Mswati? Anyone who has seen the king lately knows he has a huge belly and a gigantic pair of man’s breasts.

Perhaps, it was a misprint and the Observer meant ‘keep fat’.

There is a serious point to what might appear to be me gratuitously insulting the king. The king so obviously was talking nonsense but his hangers-on just let him get away with it. It must take someone else to tell the king he is in ‘the altogether’ (as it were).

EDITOR’S NOTE. The ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ is a story by Hans Christian Anderson about an Emperor who liked to spend vast amounts of money on himself. He especially liked new clothes. A pair of swindler’s convinced the emperor that they had the finest cloth and would make him a new suit from it. In fact they had no cloth but convinced the emperor that not only was the material so beautiful, but the clothes made from it had the special power of being invisible to everyone who was stupid or not fit for his post. The emperor wore the ‘suit’ and paraded before his subjects totally naked.

But among the crowds a little child suddenly gasped out, ‘But he hasn't got anything on.’ And the people began to whisper to one another what the child had said. ‘He hasn't got anything on.’ ‘There's a little child saying he hasn't got anything on.’ Till everyone was saying, ‘But he hasn't got anything on.’ The Emperor himself had the uncomfortable feeling that what they were whispering was only too true. ‘But I will have to go through with the procession,’ he said to himself.

So he drew himself up and walked boldly on holding his head higher than before, and the courtiers held on to the train that wasn't there at all.

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