Thursday, April 19, 2018

Swaziland is now eSwatini - plus ça change

Well, this doesn't happen too often. À propos of nothing at all, King Mswati III of Swaziland has decided to change the country's name to the Kingdom of eSwatini, which means "land of the Swazis", i.e. Swaziland.
The new name - which, to me, has unfortunate resonances of e-cigarettes or iPhones - is in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Swazi independence, as well as the king's own 50th birthday. The name change doesn't actually change much of substance, though, and the tiny country is still dirt poor and failing, still beset by the world's highest rate of HIV/AIDS infection, and still basically surrounded by South Africa.
The colourful King Mswati, also known as as "Ngwenyama" (or "The Lion"), is one of the few absolute monarchs left in the world, and his profligate spending ways and 15 wives (his father, the long-reigning King Sobhuza II, was reputed to have had 125 wives) has led to many popular protests. This latest distraction from the pressing need for economic reform will not have helped his case.

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