Skip to main content
admin ajax.php?action=kernel&p=image&src=%7B%22file%22%3A%22wp content%2Fuploads%2F2022%2F10%2FBaby Moses 1 admin ajax.php?action=kernel&p=image&src=%7B%22file%22%3A%22wp content%2Fuploads%2F2022%2F10%2FBaby Moses 1

Destitute nation’s king holds birthday extravaganza

  One of the interesting things about Swaziland is how little the opinion of outsiders seems to mean to those in power.  I saw this news story yesterday about King Mswati's birthday. I read it and thought, "I wish I could have introduced him to the woman I met a couple o…
By Seth Barnes
 
Baby Moses 1One of the interesting things about Swaziland is how little the opinion of outsiders seems to mean to those in power.  I saw this news story yesterday about King Mswati's birthday. I read it and thought, "I wish I could have introduced him to the woman I met a couple of months ago dying of AIDS in a shack. Or I wish he could have held baby Moses before he died."
 
Maybe he just doesn't realize that his nation is dying or how the mothers feel to see their children die.  And I wonder if holding baby Moses would have changed the way he so freely spent Swaziland's resources to celebrate his birthday.  But then I look at the Church in America and it's hard to cast stones. We spend a small fraction of our total tithes on widows and orphans.  So, I guess if we want to start somewhere we start with ourselves.  What do you think?
 
MBABANE, Swaziland (AP) — The Swazi king, dressed in traditional leopard skins and whisked around in an open-topped BMW, celebrated his 40th birthday and his nation's 40th independence day with lavish glee Saturday — hosting an extravaganza that contrasted sharply with the biting poverty of his subjects.

King Mswati III toured the national stadium to cheers and flag-waving. Tens of thousands of Swazi maidens who had performed for the king last weekend at the annual Reed Dance were at the festivities, which included traditional dancing and drumming and a full military parade.

"I'm aware that many in the world might be wondering why we are so excited about the celebrations of our 40th anniversary," the king told the crowd. "The answer is simple. We are celebrating our nationhood."

However, the so-called 40-40 party was preceded by demonstrations against its excessive cost in a country that has the world's highest AIDS rate and where only one in four Swazis lives to be 40.

The cost was officially put at $2.5 million, but it was widely believed to be at least five times more. There was special anger at the jet-set shopping spree by eight of the king's 13 wives to Dubai to purchase birthday outfits, and the fleet of luxury cars bought to carry VIPs around.

Visiting heads of state were whisked into the stadium in a long convoy. The loudest cheer was reserved for Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who climbed out of a car with a "Zimbabwe" number plate to a standing ovation. The 84-year-old autocrat is popular in the region because he is seen as standing up to the West.

Mswati is Africa's last absolute monarch. He is widely revered but there is anger about the luxurious lifestyle practiced by him and his 13 wives.

One in five Swazis now depend on international food aid, partly because AIDS has devastated rural areas and led to an explosion in child-headed households who can't tend the fields.

Life expectancy has nearly halved since 1998 because of the AIDS epidemic and is now less than 31 years, according to U.N. figures.

Comments (19)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

about team