Tag Archives: Swaziland

Bushfire Blazes: Swaziland music festival puts nation on the map.

The amazing Nathalie Natiembe.

What an amazing, amazing outdoor festival last weekend. Bushfire, put on by the folks at House on Fire, drew around 20,000 people to sample Southern African music, delicious indigenous dishes, Fair Trade craft shopping and non-stop Swazi singing and dancing. The weather was perfect, the beverages cheap, and the atmosphere super chill.

Stewart Sukuma, from Mozambique.

Of all the outstanding artists, my favorite  was Nathalie Natiembe, from Reunion Island. As I listened to her I felt like I was hearing an African Edith Piaf, spiced with a dash of electronica. Her nickname is “little punk of the Maloya.” Maloya is one of the major genres of music from Reunion Island. Her band rocked and guest Mozambican artist Cheny WaGune killed on the timbale.

Alhousseini Anivolia, of Niger.

Some of my other faves were Alhousseini Anivolla of Niger (he fronts the band EtranFinatawa), and Guy Buttery, an instrumentalist extradinaire from South Africa. A fantastic pairing, they performed a smoking duo guitar showdown. These two were part of the”Guitarfrik,” a summit of Africa’s best guitarist in 2009. I could have listened to them riff for hours. Stewart Sukuma Cred Richnerallan, from Mozambique, also tore the house down.

Swazi got back!

The three-day festival is reknown in Southern Africa and much of the crowd had trekked in from Cape Town, Joberg and Maputo. I was especially impressed with the food. Not a fast-food stand in sight. The African Mission offered dishes from Rwanda, Zimbabwe. A Swazi stand had pap and stew, and Guba Café offered delicious mango/pinapple smoothies and coconut curry. Other stalls offered huge pans of paella , BBQ pork buns, and falafels.  Recycling depots were set up throughout the grounds which was also impressive (especially since Swaziland has not adopted recycling as a norm yet).

Delicious paella.

Bushfire has put Swaziland on the map musically. Yet another reason to visit this beautiful country!

Innovative Swazi Design: Khulekani’s JeremPaul Exhibit

Nature design installation at National Museum.

Walking into the JeremPaul Exhibit opening at the National Museum in Lobamba, the first thing I saw was a mat of fresh grass and an overturned tree trunk radiating hundreds of red-wool beams. Welcome to Khulekani Msweli ‘s world: Nature meets fashion meets fantastical thinking. One of Swaziland’s most innovative designers, Khulekani specializes in clothing and furniture. My favorite items at the show were a hand-painted gown with puffy, Elizabethan sleeves, a lamp festooned with porcupine quills, and sky-high platform shoes with carved wooden bases and colourful impala-skin straps.


JeremPaul Designs is Msweli’s brand and it includes everything from brides’ gowns to beeswax candles to whimsical carved furniture. “I pride myself in creating one-of-a-kind pieces and I can assure my clientele that I will continue giving them the best quality possible,” he told the assembled guests at the opening. Msweli’s fans also learned they can purchase his designs  at the JeremPaul boutique at the newly opened Yebo Art Centre in Ezelwini.
I loved this talented young Swazi’s gorgeous, creative, spirited fashion. Congratulations Khulekani!

Media Training in Mambane, Swaziland

Enjoying the day with the ladies of Mambane.

This week’s highlight was a media training session I facilitated along with MISA Swaziland (Media Institute of Southern Africa) and EU Cospe (an Italian NGO that works on numerous programs with SWAGAA.

Discussing gender-based violence and news challenges with journalists from the Swaziland Observer and Times.

Six journalists came tot he MISA office in Mbabane for a round table discussion that I led on how best to cover gender-based violence stories. It was great sharing experiences and finding out about their challenges. The journalists were from the Observer and the Times. We discussed the need for confidentiality so survivors can avoid stigma, and also how to include a survivor’s voice. So often here the articles are merely court reports, which is due to the fact that these news reporters have to file at least three stories a day. That’s a lot.

We talked about ethics and policies, patriarchal attitudes in the newsroom (2 of the journos were women) and how gender-based violence stories are often churned out without much sensitivity to the parties involved. I had them put themselves in a GBV subject’s shoes, walking back into a homestead where people would talk, laugh, accuse, point fingers and ostracize them. Humanizing the subject makes for less provocative, damaging reporting. It was good food for thought.

Mambane gate. Love the cow-horn motif!

The second part of the training was to head out in a couple of vehicles to a community called Mambane on the South African/Mozambique border. One vehicle broke down, delaying one group, but luckily my vehicle made the 2-hour, gravel road trip without mishap. We were scheduled to meet a group of women at a community Gogo Centre (Gogo is the term for grandmother, and these centres are used for gatherings, teachings and various projects). The Gogo centre we visited had just received a voter registration machine. Part of EU Cospe’s mandate is to get women in more leadership positions. The rule in Swaziland is 30% of politicians should be female, but in reality the number is much lower. None of the journalists even knew what the actual figure was.

We took the journalists out because media outlets here have limited resources and seldom do Mbabane-based staff get the chance to gather grassroots level stories out in the country. This is where 80 percent of the population lives and yet their voices are seldom heard.

The day was perfect, sunny and hot. We met a group of around 30 women who had gathered at the Gogo centre for a pickle-making session. The three-legged pot was on the fire and filled with a delicious smelling mixture of cabbage, carrots and pepper when we arrived.

Pickle-making at the Gogo Centre.

The journalists paired off with some of the women and began their search for stories. Topics covered were voting, female MPs, education, health services and prevalence of gender-based violence.

Getting the scoop.

After a couple of hours the pickles were made and the stories scooped. Driving back to Manzini and Mbabane, I picked the journalists’ brains. Some women didn’t want to vote for other women because they couldn’t see how they would get anything done. Women don’t support other women due to jealousy and maybe because there are very few role models. The women at the Gogo centre were all taking adult education classes, trying to get through primary school studies, which for various reasons they had never received (married young, needed to care for siblings, needed to do chores around the house). When asked if they would think of running for office, the answer was, ‘Who would vote for me? I can’t even read or write. I need to get my education first.’

It’s been five days since we had the training and so far at least five stories have resulted. For some reason the paper used a shot of the women, plus me. Oh well. The stories are great and the voices of community women are getting out there. Yeah!

Here are some of the stories: http://misaswaziland.com/2013/05/26/misa-helps-generate-debate-on-womens-rights-during-election-coverage-training/

http://misaswaziland.com/2013/05/26/training-day-in-mambane-and-mafutseni-in-pictures/

GOOD NEWS!! Sexual Offenses and Domestic Violence Bill passed by Senate!


Here’s my statement on behalf of SWAGAA for the press…it was picked up by the Times of Swaziland this week…
The Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse is extremely thankful the house of Senate passed the Sexual Offenses and Domestic Violence Bill on 20 May, 2013. It has been a lengthy and arduous process. SWAGAA, in collaboration with other NGOs, funding partners and government agencies, has been advocating for a specific law to address sexual offenses and domestic violence since 2004.
Outdated colonial legislation with light sentences, omission of some offences, and little survivor support will now be replaced. The new law means stiffer sentences for perpetrators, which in turn will deter future offenders. The terms of various international conventions the country has signed, regarding of protection of women, will now be honoured.
The new law is not only about increased punitive measures, but provides for peace binding to help mitigate the effects of domestic violence within a family. It also stipulates the creation of a register of sex offenders that can be used by organizations to help screen potential employees working with vulnerable populations.
The passing of the Bill into an Act is a powerful step forward, but Assent from King MiSwati III is also necessary. Even after receiving the King’s Assent, there are many mechanisms that must be put into place before the law becomes operational. We can only hope these requirements are met swiftly so that Swaziland becomes safer, more fair, and equitable for all of its citizens.

Ezulweni Mornings

Execution Rock, where in the 1880s Swazis would march criminals and make them jump off. None survived.

Last week I was attending a conference on building capacity and drafting a strategic plan for the MenEngage Network. It’s part of a larger alliance that covers most of the Southern African countries.

The 4-day workshop was a resounding success. Attendees shared strengths and weaknesses and most came away having fully committed to the idea of helping to shift the patriarchal attitude in Swaziland.

 

 It was an honour to be there. In the mornings, before the conference, I went for an hour walk to get the juices flowing. The location of the conference was at Happy Valley Casino, situated in Ezulweni. This is a very affluent part of Swaziland, were expats and wealthy Swazis have built opulent homes.

Here are some shots from my early morning rambles…

Happy Valley Casino, where, ironically, many NGO meetings are held in Swaziland.

Gorgeous mist when hot weather meets cold.

Monkey jinks!

Even Kuwait likes Ezulweni!

Lovely in the mist…

Peacocks rule in Ezulweni!

Lobamba Village Tour

Children in Lobamba love having their picture taken.

People who are only visiting Swaziland for a short time can get a feeling for the true life of Swazis by taking a village tour. Yes, the first impression of Swaziland is smooth paved highways, shopping malls filled with trendy, Chinese-made merchandise, grocery stores overflowing with packaged goods…and yet, this is not the experience of 80 percent of the population. The majority of Swazis live in rural areas. Their homesteads comprise mud and stick huts, they have to walk long distances to get water, they cook porridge in three-legged pots over an open fire and many children do not attend school because the fees and costs of uniforms is more than parents earning $2 a day can manage. Unemployment is rife and a single wage earner often supports extended families of up to 15 people.

When I had a visitor recently, we went on a guided walk through Lobamba Village with a local tour operator called All Out Africa. The Lobamba region is between Manzini and Mbabane. It’s the cultural capital of the country and is the home of eLudzidzine, the King’s traditional royal residence. The royal stadium is host to the annual Reed Dance and the Royal Kraal draws thousands each year to the Incwala ceremony. The parliament buildings are here, as well as the National Football Association headquarters.

We started our tour at the museum, which explained how Swazis are really Zulus who broke off relations with their warring leaders in the 1700s. Following the Dlamini clan, they settled in the safe, mountainous region now known as Swaziland. The museum chronicled the Transvaal rule, the era of the British protectorate and independence in 1968. Much emphasis was placed on the current king’s father, King Sobuza, who brought in archeologists and anthropologists to help define what is now knows as Swazi culture and tradition. This includes the traditional garb, the national ceremonies and an uncodified and unwritten “cultural” law.

The Eternal Flame, lit only on special occasions.

Next to the museum was King Sobhuza II’s memorial, consisting of a statue and a sort of mausoleum only accessible to Swazis. It is also home of the so-called eternal flame, which is lit only for special occasions. The best part of this memorial facility is the display of King Sobhuza’s cars. A humble man who liked to walk barefoot and sit on the ground, his three cars were gifts. My favorite was the 1957 Buick, with flashy fins and a flat tire.

King Sobhuza’s 1957 Buick!

From there we walked to the village of Lobamba, a warren of stick and mud homes with a population of 8,000. King Sobuza had his royal residence there, which is how the village developed. These days many residents work at the present King’s royal residence, a few hundred meters away. Swazi tradition says once a king has died, his home cannot be touched by anyone else. Sobuza’s residence is now a crumbling amalgam of small buildings overgrown with weeds.

Beki, our guide shook his head as he showed it to us. “I don’t know what will happen with the current king. He has so many mansions. They are not humble like King Sobuza’s. If nothing can be done with them when he dies it will be such a waste.”

Every other person we passed called out a greeting to Beki, who lives with his mother’s side of the family in their stick and mud compound in the village. “Are you thirsty?” he asked? We nodded. Leading us to a small courtyard filled with low benches, he ordered some of the local brew. A woman brought us a large pickle jar filled with what looked like grey dish water. “Sorghum beer,” explained Beki, taking a swig. I took a small sip from the communal jar. Sour and unappealing, that was enough. Beki disappeared into the hut and then came out with a clay bowl filled with a thick white liquid. “Maize drink, non-fermented,” he explained. This was cool and sweet. Much more to my liking.

The Stick and Mud gallery owned by artist Lucky Mlotsa was next on our agenda. Peering into the dark, one-room hut, I was greeted by a small man with long dreads and a bright smile. “Welcome, come into my home and my studio,” he said expansively. Three cats were curled up on top of a huge loud speaker. “That’s for my band, we rehearse here as well,” he explained. The walls were covered with Lucky’s art, colourful paintings of Swazi life, from the Reed Dance ceremony to a depiction of the busy main intersection in Mbabane.  “I’ve been teaching some community members to paint and on Saturdays I hold children’s classes,” he said, adding, “Four of my students have won national competitions and they were on TV. That’s when I started taking myself seriously.” Lucky explained he is in the process of appealing to the government help him start an arts academy. “I want my efforts to be permanent,” he said.

We had worked up an appetite by this time and Beki lead us to a local butchery for lunch. Picking out some chicken from the glass case, he walked over to an adjacent outbuilding containing a grill fired by large logs. The chicken was soon sizzling on the grill and when it was done we settled down to colourful plates of coleslaw, boiled pumpkin leaves, tomato and avocado salad, pap (made from cornmeal, it resembled grits), and barbequed chicken. All to be eaten with our hands. Delicious and messy. Thankfully I came equipped with Wet Ones.

We said goodbye to Beki and thanked him for showing us a little slice of everyday life…so different from the hustle and bustle of my urban existence.

SWAZI ROADS, CARS, CHURCHES, LAW AND MEDIA

Things I’ve noticed

1)    Swaziland roads are covered with speed bumps. They are everywhere, especially at intersections.

2)    There is roadside litter, but unlike in North America there a total absence of Styrofoam coffee cups since Swazis aren’t really into coffee.

3)    There are a lot of Mercedes and BMWs here. Some old, some brand, spanking new. Of course, that’s along with double cab trucks (usually with a UN decal) and kombis, which are mini vans with a capacity of 15, but usually stuffed with 25, no seat belts.

4)    24-hour gospel prayer gatherings are really popular. Yesterday was Good Friday and the bass was booming all over town from 7pm to 7am this morning.

5)    The newspaper has a regular gospel section.

6)    Lots and lots of people are pastors. There is no training necessary. Pastors shout out about the evils of demons on buses, vegetable markets and under trees.

7)    Mega churches are popular. There are many large structures and tents where people gather. One popular “prophet” predicts people’s futures.

8)    Sunday afternoon is really big drinking day. Many a time I’ve been on a kombi and had conversations with inebriated seatmates. Most of them ask me if I’m a Christian.

9)    More than 80% of the population lives in rural areas and lives on less than $2 a day – no running water, pit latrines.

10)                  The countryside is also scattered with monster mansions, reputedly owned by royalty or the elite, also knows as “untouchables.”

11)                   The constitution of 6 September 1968 was suspended 12 April 1973 by a State of Emergency decree imposed by King Sobhuza II, the father of the current King Mswati III. The decree gave absolute power to the monarchy and banned organised political opposition to royal rule.

12)                  A new constitution was promulgated 13 October 1978, but was not formally presented to the people.

13)                   The current constitution was enacted in 2005 but most people have no idea what is in it, including the politicians. When in doubt, they rely on “tradition” since there is a dual system here…Swazi Tradition and Cultural Law, and Constitutional Law. Check out this paper “A Constitution Without Constitutionalism” presented by Thulani Maseko at the African Network of Constitutional Law conference on Fostering Constitutionalism in Africa Nairobi April 2007 www.publiclaw.uct.ac.za/…/Maseko_ConstitutionMakingInSwaziland.doc

14)                  Media is severely censored and predominately owned by the state (ie the King, who has absolute power). The usual ethics of journalism do not apply. Many stories don’t really make sense. Here’s a link that explains why Swaziland ranks 155 among 179 nations in the world in regards to press freedom. http://allafrica.com/stories/201302111702.html

15)                   My job is to deal with the press daily. Here’s a link to a story: “Hubby Beats Wife for Wearing Trousers” which I had to comment on on behalf of SWAGAA. Believe it. http://www.times.co.sz/News/85584.html

16)  If people speak out about the unfairness of the political system, they often lose their jobs, their cars and their dignity. So there isn’t a lot of speaking out.

TALKING CALABASHES, ZIONISM, SPIRIT SNAKES AND TRAVELLING MUTI

Members of the Swaziland Zionist Church, circa 1974. This shot is by Ludo Kuipers, Sun Apr 14, 1974 and taken from World Pics.

Here in Swaziland, there is often a blurring of the lines between magic, witchcraft and Christianity. Here are some odd things I’ve seen in the newspaper lately…

A talking calabash, which reporters from the Swazi News went to take pictures of. They were afraid it was possessed by demons. The father of a soldier, killed by other soldiers, heard the calabash speak. Soldiers dying at the hands of other soldiers have been in the news a lot lately. The father said the calabash was revealing details about his son’s death.

The following story concerns Zionists and I should explain a little about this dominant form of Christianity in Swaziland. It’s a mixture of Christianity and African traditional religion. The following explanation was gleaned from the Encyclopedia of African Christianity.

Zionists marching on Easter weekend to the King’s residence, 1970. Photo: Ludo Kuipers. They still dress in a similar way and I see them often on a Saturday, heading out to an all night prayer session.

“The Zionist churches are characterised by a commitment to faith-healing, to river-baptism (in a “Jordan” river or sea) and to the Pentecostalist gift of speaking in tongues.

“The Zionist churches were founded by the missionary PL Le Roux, an Afrikaner who had become committed to faith healing. In 1903 Le Roux left the Dutch Reformed church to join a group dependent on the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church which had been founded in the USA by John Alexander Dowie and was focussed on the city of Zion, Illinois, near Chicago. Le Roux had a close and happy relationship with Africans, and easily conveyed the tenets of Zionism to the African Church he served. They called themselves the Zionist Apostolic Church. A few years later Le Roux moved on from Zionism to Pentacostalism, carrying his flock with him from faith-healing to speaking in tongues, but retaining their name.

“The Zionist Apostolic church developed an African leadership very early. Daniel Nkonyane replaced Le Roux as the principal leader of the Zionist Apostolic Church in 1908 when Le Roux went on to join the newly formed Pentecostal church.

“Structurally Zionist churches stand half way between the “Ethiopian” churches and the prophetic churches. Like the “Ethiopian” churches they have clear missionary roots, but they are even more fully enculturated than the Ethiopian churches, openly accepting polygamy and fitting in to the structures of African traditional religions in terms of spirit-possession, faith-healing, manifestations of spiritual power and the like. Like the prophetic churches, they share the same basic assumptions about the reality of witchcraft and the spiritual dimensions of reality, while rejecting witches and spirits as evil beings to be cast out.

“By the 1920s the Zionist churches began to share the look of prophetic churches, donning distinctive white robs, carrying prophetic staffs and observing the same kind of food taboos as the prophetic churches did.”

Women Zionists, Easter, 1970. Photo: Ludo Kuipers.

Here’s a little summary of the story in the newspaper…

There was a disappearance of a Zionist in a river, at a place used by Zionists as a cleansing ceremony pool.  I’ve seen it…there were candles, egg shells and milk carton strewn around, even a chicken head floating in the water. It’s a popular place to exocise demons. One day as I was walking along the rocks at the river’s edge, I heard some frantic shouting. Peeping over a boulder, I spied a Zionist preacher in his blue robes, shouting at and shaking a young woman who stood in her jeans and t-shirt as river water poured over her. The spot is very picturesque, a little waterfall runs into a pool, collecting before it continues downstream. But back to the newspaper story…The man’s sister pointed out his clothes by the river bank, to prove he had been there. She arranged a ceremony with a Zionist preacher, sacrificed a cow into the river (it was alive, and swam to the other side). It was reported that the brother may have been taken by the spiritual river snake and kept underwater to undergo special training to become a spiritual healer. The sister claimed he would emerge from the river the next day. Reporters and onlookers went, but he was a no show. Then the sister said he would emerge from a dam in South Africa. She had the police escort her to the dam…and there he was. A photographer took his picture, looking very wet. People were outraged. It was a “sham,” a “waste of the police’s time”… “Zionists don’t believe in spiritual snakes.” We still don’t know the whole story.

Here’s a link to a fascinating video by Kyle Meyer who was in the country last year documenting a rural Zionist Church. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1791225461/touch-of-god

 

Zionist preacher Jeffery Mdalodze at a baptism waterfall. Photo by Kyle Meyer.

Next story..Muti, Democracy and Communism!

Last week there was a ceremony in South Africa for the “Break the Chains” campaign, for the release of political prisoners and the “unbanning of political parties” in Swaziland. It was hosted by the South African Communist Party and members of the Vhembe community did a prayer ritual, to send muti to Swaziland to assist with the breaking of the chains, ie the stranglehold various elites have on the country. (This really boils down to royalty.) Interestingly, the SACP was calling for democracy in Swaziland. Outraged MPs in Swaziland responded, saying muti (a sort of medicine/witchcraft involving ancestral spirits) could never travel that far, and sure as heck couldn’t cross rivers.

Swazi NGO Meeting Culture – It’s about the food!

Dessert at the Royal Swazi Sun, where many meetings and launches are held.

I’ve been attending quite a few NGO campaign launches, workshops and stakeholders’ meetings since I came to Swaziland and have noticed that things are run a little differently than in Canada. Food is very important and helps draw attendees (humm, maybe not that different. North American press events are the same). I must say, it’s a little disquieting to know many people in Swaziland live on less that $2 Cdn a day…and at these meetings the plates are piled high. Not sure where this all came from…maybe a throwback to British rule? Donor tradition here? Or Swazi custom, where any gathering requires a feast, especially if official dignitaries are invited.

Here’s a little rundown.

1. Invitation comes to your office via hand delivery. This can be 1 week to 1 day prior to the meeting.
2. If it is a campaign launch, it will be a 1/2 day affair. Stakeholders meetings are usually a full day and workshops or training sessions usually go from 3-5 days.
3. Venue – launches are generally in a fancy hotel or resort complex. Usually government officials are invited. There is strict protocol to be followed and lots of long speeches. Workshops are held in very nice hotels and attendees stay overnight. All accommodation and meals are covered. For instance, a workshop hosted by the UNFPA will invite stakeholders to a lodge out of town so they actually stay for the duration of the workshop. Usually there are around 30 attendees at these meetings, along with presenters. The stakeholders’ meetings I’ve attended are a day long and held in convention spaces, or guest houses with meeting rooms.

Heading in for lunch.

4. The meetings are usually scheduled for 8 or 9 am. They start an hour (at least) later.
5. Meetings break around 10-11 for tea. This means tea and coffee, and muffins, biscuits and/or sandwiches.
6. Lunch break is around noon-1pm. Often it is buffet style, meat, veg, rice, potatoes, salad and dessert. This can be for 1-2 hours.

Salads salads salads.

7. Presentations continue after lunch. They are just about always power points, with some question and answer time.
8. By 5 pm the day is over…time for dinner!! (At workshops)
9. Even at community events, say World AIDS Day, with hundreds of attendees, there are speeches, entertainment, more speeches, and lunch…everyone lines up at tents outside and gets a Styrofoam box of chicken or beef stew and rice. Fruit for dessert.
10. Most NGO staff members attend at least a couple of these workshops, launches and stakeholder meetings per week. It can be hard to get your own work done.
11. Examples of gatherings: Gender Links Summit (2 days at Lugogo Sun), Sexual Offenses and Domestic Violence Bill workshop (2 days at Maguga Lodge), Girls Empowerment Club stakeholders meeting (1 day at Great Alpha Restaurant), World AIDS Day (1 day, Mavuso Centre), International Day of the Girl Child campaign launch (1/2 day Happy Valley Hotel and Casino).
12. After these sessions attendees are full of info and food. Most of us have to skip meals for a few days to get back to normal.

 

The Things I Love and the Things that Drive Me Crazy in Swaziland

LOVE

1)    People’s names: Innocent, Sunshine, Lucky, Fortunate

2)    Warm greetings from people you don’t know. It is common, polite practice to say hello to everyone you meet on the street. Big smiles from strangers are also common.

3)    Mangos the size of my head.

4)    Avocados creamy and heavenly.

5)    The way women carry babies on their backs, tied in place with a kanga (cloth), towel or blanket. The children put their arms around mom’s neck while she ties them into place. You always know a woman is carring a baby when she walks towards you and see the knotted blanket and two tiny feet sticking out.

6)    Well-behaved children. I have not heard one tantrum in the grocery store!

Green beauty on the way to Pigg’s Peak.

Swazis, not Hobbits, live here.

A stunning lodge — Maguga Lodge, near the dam, in northern Swaziland.

7)    The beautiful lush, green, hilly landscape.

8)    Price of South African wine – very decent bottles for $5 Cdn.

9)    Spring…cool evenings for sleeping and warm sunny days.

10)                  Braai culture: parties consist of BYOB and BYOM (meat) – all year round.

Cows are money in the bank for Swazi people.

11)                   Cows and goats on the road – so non-Canadian!

12)                   Beautiful butterflies and moths.

A beautiful moth who alighted on my locker at the gym.

 

 

CRAZY-MAKING

1)    Swazi time. I went to an International Women’s Day event on Friday, scheduled for an 8 am start. It began at 11:30 am.

2)    Kombis. This mode of public transport, mini-vans, legally hold around 15 people. Often they get packed with around 25. Perfect TB incubators.

3)    Drivers. Either they think they are on the Autobahn (100 in a 40 mph zone), or they’re afraid they’ll lose control if they go more than 1/2 the speed limit.

4)    Cows and goats on the road – one of the main causes of car accidents. Often owners let them wander freely, grazing by the side of the road, but they also tend to pop out in front of vehicles.

5)    The phone system. There are new networks – one is for cell phones, the other for landlines, and never the twain shall meet. Both are government owned, but the cell-phone company prevails (MTN). If you try to call one from the other, it is VERY expensive. Actually all calls are quite expensive. Texts cost around 10 cents (Cdn) each and a 10-minute cell call will cost around $1 (Cdn). Ouch!

6)    Government process…Lots of talking, but little action. Activists have been pushing for the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence law to be passed for more than 10 years. The judicial system must rely on laws that are very out of date and perpetrators are often given light sentences.

7)    The belief in demons and witchcraft. Very disturbing and very prevalent.

8)    Reading announcements of police officers getting 30% pay increases, while teachers (who make very small salaries) can’t get a 4.5% increase. (Teachers went on strike last year, were fired by the Prime Minister, then pardoned by the King but still can’t get their 4.5%.)

9)    Polygamy.

10)                   The fact that women have constitutional rights, but many don’t know it. They continue to suffer gender-based violence and just figure that’s a woman’s lot in life – some even think it means the man is still interested in her.

11)                   Yucky giant bugs.

A dead giant being devoured by ants.

 

IRONIES

1)    The Sunday Time’s editor is named Innocent. He jumps at every opportunity to publish scandal, often based on rumor. One instance was publishing a nude photo of a Swazi embassy employee in the UK provided by her angry ex who was blackmailing her for reneging on a financial agreement. Not really news, and not so innocent.

2)    A man was chewed up by machinery in the sugar mills. The only way they could identify him was by testing for DNA in the sugar. His name was Lucky.