As one of the few remaining monarchies in the world, culture and heritage are deeply engrained in all aspects of Swazi life, ensuring an unforgettable experience for all who visit. Meet ‘out of this world’ escorts of all shapes and shades in Eswatini on Exotic Africa today.
Welcome to Eswatini (Swaziland)
The intriguing Kingdom of ESwatini (formerly Swaziland) is a small landlocked country in Southern Africa. It is bordered by Mozambique to its northeast and South Africa to its north, west, and south.
While it is small in size it boasts a huge checklist for any visitor. They say “Good things come in small packages.” and the saying couldn’t be truer than in eSwatini.
Unlike other African countries, eSwatini has managed to hold on to that slow-down-this-is-Africa feeling which is proving popular with tourists. Everything here remains small and personable and the atmosphere is remarkably relaxed. If you are planning to visit eSwatini consider staying at least a week to do the country justice.
You will be met with cheerful smiles and happy greetings as soon as you cross the border between South Africa and eSwatini. The Swazi people are warm and proud people who are in love with their culture. They will never miss an opportunity to share it with you so come prepared.
ESwatini has something few countries in the world can claim: two capital cities. Given that Swaziland is one of the smallest countries in Africa, with a population of only 1.1 million, it seems like two capitals may be excessive.
Lobamba is the site at which Swaziland’s independence was announced in 1968. It had a population of approximately 11,000 (2017) and is also the seat of the legislative branch of government, Parliament. The Queen Mother, Ntombi lives in Lobamba and acts as the joint Head of State. Her son, Mswati III, is the current King of Swaziland and lives at the Lozitha Palace, just 6 miles outside of the city.
Mbabane on the other hand was founded around 1887 and named after a local chief, Mbabane Kunene. The area grew quickly because of its strategic location along the route between then-Transvaal Republic and Mozambique. It has been considered the administrative capital of the country since 1902, although it has not always held this title.
English is one of the country’s official languages, along with Swazi. Did you know that in eSwatini, it’s customary for women to not eat the head or feet of a cow. It is believed that if a woman eats the brains of a cow, she will become intelligent; if she eats the tongue, she will talk back to her husband; and if she eats the feet, she will run away. For the same reason, Swazis say that you should never buy your wife a pair of shoes.
Things to do in ESwatini
While eSwatini has lots of cool stuff from stunning scenery of mountains and valleys, forests and plains; plus wildlife reserves across the country that are home to The Big Five, the annual Umhlanga (reed) festival, one of Africa’s biggest cultural events tops the lists.
There are few cultural ceremonies in the world today which can hold a candle to Eswatini’s (Swaziland’s) annual reed dance. Religiously followed by millions of fans across the globe and attended by Presidents, the annual Umhlanga or Reed Dance ceremony is a must attend affair for any man and woman who wants to get a glimpse of Africa’s last nubile virgins ready for picking literally.
In this eight-day ceremony, young girls cut reeds, present them to the Queen Mother (Indlovukazi) – ostensibly to repair the windbreak around her royal residence – and then dance in celebration. Up to 40,000 girls take part, dressed up in brightly coloured attired – making it one of the biggest and most spectacular cultural events in Africa.
The event takes place around the last week of August / first week of September in the Lobamba area, next to the Ezulwini Valley.
A visit to Swazi candles center located in the Malkerns Valley makes for another cool stop-over. This community project light up Africa by making beautiful intricate designs of Swazi Candles, which use the ancient technique known as “millifiore” or, “thousand flowers”, first surfaced in Alexandria.
Both traditional parafin wax as well as 100% organic soya candle tea lights are available and guests are welcome with open arms to come and interact with artisans as they work their magic.
An expedition to Swazi Candles is not just a candle experience. The workshop is surrounded by other talented crafters, artists and artisans as well as a bustling market and souvenir shops. You can sample some Black Mamba chilli sauce or take a stroll through Yebo Art Gallery. The Sambane Tea Garden provides excellent meals, cakes and daily specials in a beautiful shady garden setting with a fabulous children’s playground.
Don’t leave Eswatini’ without trying out the delicious local cuisine made of braised meat and pap, a porridge made from maize.
Eswatini also plays hosts to one of the best festivals in the world, MTN Bushfire Fest. The festival features a line-up of Swazi and international acts including DJs, live acts, filmmakers, and even poets. There are also dozens of craft stalls, a Global Food Village, and an extensive camp site.