Saturday, December 31, 2011


The end of the beginning? 2011, a year in the struggle for freedom in Swaziland by Richard Rooney is a new book published today (31 December 2011) and available free-of-charge online. You can read on screen or download it to your computer to print out. Click the link below.

Here is an extract from the Introduction to the book.

Tuesday April 12 2011 may yet go down in history as a watershed in the struggle for freedom in Swaziland. To borrow the words of Winston Churchill, it might not have been the day that the struggle for freedom in Swaziland ended in victory for the people. It might not even have been the beginning of the end. But it was, perhaps, the end of the beginning. After this day things would never be quite the same again in Swaziland.

It was on April 12 that Swaziland saw its biggest demonstration in living memory. It was to be the start of three days of protests across the tiny kingdom in southern Africa. Ordinary Swazis were fed up with the regime of King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. They’d had enough of being denied their basic human and civil rights and were ready to fight for their freedom. They wanted an end to the corruption of the King and the governments he appoints. They wanted the freedom to meet, to demonstrate, to form political parties and to choose their own government – all things denied to them by the King.

A group of people, unaffiliated with any of the existing political parties or lobby groups, created a Facebook site and called it the April 12 Swazi Uprising. April 12 was the day in 1973 that King Sobhuza II, the father of the present King, tore up the country’s constitution and began to rule by decree. Despite the signing into law of a new constitution in 2006, people in the kingdom still live under the yoke of that decree.

The April 12 group caught attention in Swaziland and across the globe. It called for an uprising to start on April 12 2011 and soon prodemocracy activists, trade unionists, journalists and progressives from all over the world were watching the kingdom.

Swaziland had seen many street protests before, but this one was to be different. This was meant to be the beginning of the end.

This one was also to be the first to be played out on the Internet. Members of the April 12 group claimed they were a real on-the-ground organisation with at least three full time organisers. Perhaps they were, but mostly their battle was fought in cyberspace using social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and blogsites.

The Uprising was brutally put down by police, but the struggle for democracy in Swaziland continues. This book looks at what happened in 2011. It is compiled from the pages of Swazi Media Commentary, the blog that contains information and comment on the fight for human rights in Swaziland.

As well as the events of April 12, the book covers in much detail the massive meltdown of the Swazi economy, caused by the governments handpicked over the years by King Mswati; and also caused in no small part by the greed and corruption of the King himself and his close supporters.

The economic meltdown has sensitised many people in Swaziland to the need for root and branch political reform in the kingdom.

This book starts with a section on the April 12 Uprising which is followed by the account of the economy. There then follows separate chapters looking at events in each month of 2011. These events include many protests, including the Global Week of Action held in September. They also highlight the numerous violations of rights suffered by the poor, by children, by women and by sexual minorities, among others, in the kingdom.

2011. a Year in the Struggle for Freedom in Swaziland - Rooney

No comments: