A Swazi legend relates the romantic tale of a beautiful maiden and her handsome warrior.
For her hand he had to present her with the skin of a leopard which he had to hunt for on the rugged Gobolondlo Mountain.
Misfortune befell her suitor and he was seized by witches who inhabited the mountainside and transformed into a white flower, condemned for his trespassing to bloom and die among the mountain grasses.
When after many days the warrior had still not returned, the lamenting maiden sat on the river's edge where her tears flowed to form the Phophonyane waterfalls, which still flow today.
The Swazi Candle factory is actually located in a converted farmhouse! To quote from their literature: 'The concept involves the cloaking of candle wax with a colourful intricately designed shell. Each candle is hand-formed, the white wax is gently warmed, crafted into the basic shape which can be a large ball, an egg, mushroom, owl, tortoise, or larger bull, rhino or elephant. All of the craftsmen and women go through a training period when they begin with the easier shapes. Under the watchful eye of the senior candlemakers, the apprentices are coached towards making the more intricate shapes. Swazi Candles is a fun place to visit (I can confirm this!), generally the candlemakers like to work to music and there is a feeling of one large family working together here'. The photo shows our easily transported and relatively simple candle, compared to a TV controller!
There are two traditional fests in the country:
The Incwala and the Umhlanga.
The Incwala or “first fruits” ceremony is held in December is the most sacred of all Swazi ceremonies. Every year, the Swazi astrologers decide the exact date for the fest.
More details in Incwala Travelogue
The Umhalanga or “Reed Dance” is the second most important ceremony and the most colourful. It is celebrated in late August or early September. This ceremony attracts young girls from all over the country and it is an opportunity for the King to choose new brides. The girls wear short beaded skirts decorated with fringes and buttons; together with anklets, bracelets and necklaces, and colourful sashes. It is a very very interesting fest to see.
More details in Umhlanga Travelogue.
It is a traditional dance that requires to be fit. It is a foot stamping dance, vigorous in style. It is performed by men with spectacular rhythm. You can see these dances in many places. I saw them in the Milwane Wildlife Sanctuary and again in the Mantenga Cultural Village, but shows are held in many lodges around the country.
Wherever we stopped in both Swaziland and SA to take pictures of the passing scenery or villages, it seemed that people very quickly materialized out of nowhere. The children have come to realize that there are "sweets" to be had from these passerbys! It is not long before your car is surrounded so be prepared to take your photo and move along as quickly as you can. Photo of some village huts in the dry southern areas of Swaziland - the country was noticeably poorer than SA..
We stumbled on this little batik factory (run by a Dutch woman). Batik is very common in Africa but it did come from Indonesia, although the patterns are much less intricate than in Indonesia. We bought some cushion covers for the new couch. Except we haven't got the new couch yet, because we went to South Africa!
Each year there is a huge festival in September when the king receives all the maidens of the country. Then he chooses a fiancée (not every year, but even so... quite often!), who he will wed the following year. It is of course, a great honour for the girl.
Hundreds of Swahili girls dance for the king. Unmarried maidens do not cover their upper body but decorate themselves with colourful bead jewelry. You can see pictures of that on my South Africa page.
A very foreign concept to us Europeans.
The festival is exclusively for the Swahili. Foreigners are not allowed to attend. Or very rarely so.
Swazi emalengeni and South African rands are linked currencies and you can spend South African rands in Swaziland without any problems.
Remember to ask for your change in rands as emalengeni are worthless in South Africa where they are not accepted.
Incidentally, the one emalengeni (that's a contradiction in grammatical terms because emalengeni is plural, but I can't remember the singular) coin is very similar to the British pound in weight and size so if you have pound coins with you be careful not to confuse them. That could be expensive. Yes, the locals know and don't say anything.
Much less touristic than in South Africa (Hluhluwe) was the Zulu kraal in Swaziland. The "chief" Albert started talking about our Dutch football hero Gullit, the moment he realised we were from the Netherlands.
Entering a kraal asks for some etiquette. The woman always enters first on the left side, because there might be an enemy inside to stab the person entering. The brave Zulu warrior enters on the right side after the woman!
He can have more than one wife, and obviously a lot of competition goes on between the wives who will poison each other to become the favoured first wife! So the child of the wife that has prepared the meal must taste it first.
I guess that's mostly history now...
MANZINI : AN HISTORICAL SKETCH by JAMES HALL, a resident since 1988
===The colonial government setting up operations in the country chose the middleveld for the first administrative capital. ===They bought out a store owned by Arthur Bremer on the Mzimnene (Umzimunene) River, and called the place Bremersdorp in his honour (a condition of sale, actually).
===whilst much has happened since the 1880's, ===colonial and imperial history is well condensed
by James Hall===The years of change have not altered Bremersdorp/Manzini at all: it is still a place, as it was in the beginning, where everybody knows your name, amongst the now 70 000 population..
for the full article, go to http://www.mzcitycouncil.org.sz/themanzinistory.html
King Mswati III is the King of Swaziland. You will see pictures of him all throughout the country - on billboards, in offices, and in building lobbies. He became king at 18 after the death of his father, King Sobhuza II, in the 1980s. He is an absolute monarch, but in Swazi tradition rules in conjunction with his mother. Polygamy is customary for Swazi kings. King Mswati has 14 wives and numerous children.
Swaziland shows roads in very good shape !!
This is a very different panorama shown by Mozambique, Swaziland's neighbour country that endured a 17-year civil war and now needs its major infrastructures to be rebuilt.
Here's some Siswati basic words :
mage : mother
babe : father
sisi : sister
yebo : yes, hi (eg when you say hi to an adult woman, you'd say 'yebo mage')
nicela : please (the c is a click of the tongue)
The local people really enjoy it when you try to say a couple of words in their language.
Women usually dance Inlamu, a rhythmic and vigorous dance too. Women dress colourful dresses (mahiya), many with the Swazi flag or King’s face.