April 18, 2018 – Swaziland King Renames Country “The Kingdom of eSwatini”

eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa, bordered by Mozambique to its northeast and South Africa to its north, west, and south. At only 120 miles north to south and 81 miles east to west, eswatini is one of the smallest countries in Africa.

The Swazis established their kingdom in the mid-18th century. The present boundaries were drawn up in 1881 in the midst of the “Scramble for Africa.”

(As Wikipedia explains, the Scramble for Africa, also called the Partition of Africa or the Conquest of Africa, was the invasion, occupation, division, and colonisation of African territory by European powers during the short period between 1881 and 1914. In 1870, only 10 percent of Africa was under formal European control; by 1914 this had increased to almost 90 percent of the continent, with only Ethiopia (Abyssinia) and Liberia remaining independent, and the latter was a former United States colony. You can read more about the harmful effects of this partitioning in our post about the 1885 “General Act of the Conference at Berlin on the Disposition of African States,” here.)

Swaziland became a British protectorate after the Second Boer War (October 1899 – May 1902), fought between the British Empire and two independent Boer states, the South African Republic (Republic of Transvaal) and the Orange Free State, after the discovery of diamonds and gold in the Boer states. (The official excuse for going to war was British opposition to slavery in Boer lands, but the British hadn’t cared much until all that wealth was discovered.)

Eswatini is part of the Southern African Customs Union (green)

After the Second Boer War, the kingdom, under the name of Swaziland, was a British protectorate from 1903 until it regained its independence on September 6, 1968, In April 2018, the official name was changed from Kingdom of Swaziland to Kingdom of eSwatini, mirroring the name commonly used in Swazi.

As the BBC reported:

The monarch announced the official change in a stadium during celebrations for the 50th anniversary of Swazi independence.

The celebrations also marked the king’s 50th birthday.

The new name, eSwatini, means “land of the Swazis”. The change was unexpected, but King Mswati has been referring to Swaziland for years as eSwatini.

It was the name the king used when he addressed the UN general assembly in 2017 and at the state opening of the country’s parliament in 2014.”

The government is an absolute monarchy, ruled by King Mswati III since 1986. King Mswati III currently has 15 wives; his predecessor had 125. Perhaps relatedly, eSwatini has the world’s highest prevalence rate for HIV/Aids.

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