Wednesday, December 14, 2011


The Incwala ritual in Swaziland is over for another year and King Mswati III has ridden a bull (either cowboy-style or doggy-style depending upon which report you want to believe).

We cannot be sure what really happens at Incwala because the Swazi traditionalists won’t let us know.

They have gone to great lengths this year to stop people from knowing what is happening. A poor itinerant seller of pirate DVDs has felt the wrath of Swaziland’s ‘traditional prime minister’ T. V. Mtetwa.

Timothy Sibandze (40), who makes a living out of selling DVDs, was taken in for questioning two weeks ago by the police and then taken to the Ludzidzini Royal Residence, for a grilling from Mtetwa.

Sibandze had been accused of selling DVDs that included some footage from a past Incwala ceremony and this, according to Mtetwa, goes against Swazi culture.

Mtetwa ordered Sibandze, who is also an active member of the banned People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), to go find all the people he sold the DVDs to and get them back.

Since Sibandze sells his DVDs on the streets this is an impossible task and Mtetwa knows that. But that doesn’t stop him threatening Sibandze. According to a report in the Times of Swaziland, Mtetwa has summoned Sibandze to another meeting where he is expected to bring the DVDs.

‘He had better do so on his own because if people are to be instructed to fetch him then there will be trouble,’ the newspaper quotes Mtetwa saying.

The clampdown is entirely on Mtetwa’s initiative. No criminal case has been brought against Sibandze and any punishment he might ultimately receive rests with Mtetwa. An earlier report suggested Sibandze and his family could face banishment from his homestead.

Meanwhile, the search is on for a group of people who have printed and distributed pamphlets about Incwala. A police spokesperson told the Swazi Observer the pamphlets contained ‘malicious and misleading fabrications aimed at tarnishing the country’s customs and traditions.

The spokesperson said, ‘It must be categorically stated that the people behind the printing and distributing of the spiteful material are grossly violating the laws of the country.’

Despite the police’s claim, it is unclear which laws exactly are being violated as the Swaziland Constitution (at least on paper) allows for freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

The Observer reported, ‘The police have not stated what was the malicious information contained in the pamphlets.’

Not for the first time the Swazi media simply take their word of the police that some outrage has been committed against the state.

I haven’t myself seen the pamphlets but it is being speculated that they contain the report from Sithembiso Simelane that was distributed on the Internet last month (November 2011) which detailed the witchcraft rituals that took place at Incwala.

The report also said that King Mswati took ‘muti’ at Incwala, and allowed himself to be licked all over his body by a snake while drugged. In one part of the sacred ceremony King Mswati has sexual intercourse with a drugged bull; in another he publicly has sex with two of his wives.

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