- King Mswati III of Swaziland has renamed the
- The absolute monarch said on Thursday that Swaziland
will be known as the Kingdom of eSwatini.
- eSwatini was the country’s original name before it had
been colonized by the British.
MBABANE (Reuters) – Swaziland’s King Mswati III, Africa’s last
absolute monarch, said on Thursday he was officially renaming the
country as the Kingdom of eSwatini.
He announced the change to eSwatini, meaning “land of the
Swazis”, in the local Swati language at Golden Jubilee
celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Swazi independence and of
his 50th birthday.
The king has referred to the “Kingdom of eSwatini” several times
in recent years – in an address to the UN General Assembly in
2017 and at African Union and other international conferences.
Addressing a large gathering in a stadium in the second city of
Manzini, 40 km (25 miles) east of the capital Mbabane, the king
said Swaziland was reverting to the original name it had before
being colonized by the British.
The impoverished southern African nation – a member of the
Commonwealth – gained independence from Britain in 1968.
“I would like to announce that from today onwards, our country
will be known as the Kingdom of eSwatini,” the king said.
He said the name “Swaziland” had caused confusion. “Whenever we
go abroad, people refer to us as Switzerland,” the king said.
The king, who wore a red and black military uniform and rode in
an open car into the stadium, said he wanted his country to have
a name people could identify with.
Most of the king’s subjects eke out a living in agriculture,
often cultivating sugar. There is widespread poverty in a country
with the world’s highest HIV/AIDS rate.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen attended the event while on a visit
to a country which is one of the few to maintain diplomatic ties
with Taiwan rather than Beijing.
It is Tsai’s first trip to Africa since assuming the presidency