Tuesday, September 21, 2010


King Mswati III of Swaziland has once again shown he has no confidence in his kingdom’s only university, even though he is its chancellor.

The king, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, never sends any of his children to the University of Swaziland (UNISWA), even though it claims to be of international standard.

This week the king’s third son Prince Bandzile Dlamini starts studies at Zayed University, United Arab Emirates (UAE). His elder sister Princess Sikhanyiso graduated this year from Biola University in Los Angeles, California.

The king has so little confidence in his kingdom’s educational system as a whole that he never sends his children to local schools. Prince Bandzile who is aged 20 spent the past five years studying in England.

The king is reckoned to have 25 children (so far) but we cannot be certain, because like the number of wives he has, this is information that the Swazi people are not allowed to know.

Prince Bandzile, who clearly has a very privileged yet sheltered background, told the National newspaper in UAE, ‘I thought that the Middle East would be a good place to go after England. I felt like I wanted some exposure to the world.

‘I was interested in Dubai so I told my embassy to find me the best schools and they recommended Zayed.’

Zayed is a strange choice for someone wanting ‘exposure to the world’. Until this year it only admitted women, but now more than 100 male students are being allowed to join the university. But they will be kept separate from the women as both sexes study and live separately.

The National says he already feels at home in the UAE, which seems not so different from Swaziland.

‘There are many cultural similarities, such as not shaking a woman’s hand,’ he said.

And what will Prince Bandzile be studying? International relations. He says he wants to represent Swaziland in the Foreign Service.

Let’s hope his new university programme includes courses on human rights.

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