I say Swaziland. You say: What? This little pearl of a country squeezed in between South Africa and Mozambique is a little humid box of time. A warm heart and a thousand green hills.
Have you ever been to Africa? This paradoxical paradise. This cradle of primal emotions.
I had the chance to go to this wonderful continent in the end of last year. A seventeen-day trip with life.
Before I came to Swaziland I did not know much about this country. I knew it was fairly small, and that a king ruled the nation. Not much information that is.
Coming here in an air-conditioned bus i just looked out of my window. Rough terrain, green hills, more like mountains as far as i could see. Small houses by the hot black road with the air quivering. People, people by the roads. Houses on small yards. Often one big house and two or more smaller houses.
- One house per wife, James, the guide, said. This is a land of polygamous marriages.
Stopping by the road, kids came running to us to sell small items and fruit. More and more people came running to us. At this point i felt a little awkward. I wanted to come here and be neutral. I wanted people to see me as a person, not as a rich white man. But this, i learned, was the role I was put in. And I also realized why I was put in this role. Swaziland is a poor country, economically. On the contrary, the people are very kind and warm.
Every year, the king gathers all young women of Swaziland to find a new wife. I think he has like fifteen or so now. Even though he seems to be very kind to his wives (he once bought every wife a fancy car) he doesn’t care that much about the people. All media is controlled and criticism against him is forbidden.