SZSwaziland

Swaziland

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SwazilandSwaziland

Mo' Fire

August 18, 2009 So the last post only talked about the work part of Swaziland. But the real reason I was super excited to go was that I was going to get to stay for the Bushfire Music Festival over the weekend. This is the third year the festival has ... read more

Leona Rosenblum

SwazilandSwaziland

Mo' Fire

August 18, 2009 Mo’ Fire Filed under: Uncategorized — unaleona @ 4:20 pm Edit This So the last post only talked about the work part of Swaziland. But the real reason I was super excited to go was that I was going to get to stay for the Bushfire Music ... read more

Leona Rosenblum

SwazilandSwaziland

Driving in Swaziland

I've coined a new phrase (although I’m probably not the first to make this observation): If you can drive in Swaziland, you can drive anywhere. Someone once told me that traffic accidents are the leading cause of death to travelers in Southern Africa. I’m not sure if this is true, ... read more

Mallory Primm

SwazilandSwaziland

Into the Field

The absence of blog posts can only mean one thing: I’ve been working hard! As the third and final phase of my research project I have been going out to “the field” and surveying local communities. With my trusty research assistant, Nonhlahla, in toe, I set out in my barely ... read more

Mallory Primm

SwazilandSwaziland

The New Ambassador

Recently a new US Ambassador arrived in Swaziland. The State Department held a reception for him at the Royal Villas, an extravagant housing complex officially owned by the King which as previously hosted the recently ousted President of Madagascar as well as Robert Mugabe. The dress code was “business casual” ... read more

Mallory Primm

SwazilandSwaziland

Umhlanga

Its impossible to be in Swaziland during this time of year and fail to mention the Umhlanga. The Umhlanga, or Reed Dance, is one of the most important events on the Swazi calendar. Traditionally, the Reed Dance is a time when Swazi's virginal maidens pay homage to the Queen. In ... read more

Mallory Primm

SwazilandSwaziland

Jewish Country Safari

So I’m sitting in a hotel conference room in Swaziland, trying to figure out if I have any ‘work’ to do today. It seems likely that the answer is no. Though I partly feel bad that I may be rather unnecessary here, I’m kind of psyched that I may be ... read more

Leona Rosenblum

SwazilandSwaziland

Superstitious

Today, soccer practice was canceled. So instead of running around for an hour, I sat in my Fiat station wagon and talked with Simphiwe. Simphiwe is the "first born" (read, "oldest") in her family. And, as the saying goes, its her job to chase away the thunder storms. Some Swazis ... read more

Mallory Primm

SwazilandSwaziland

Sonneyboy

A few days ago I had coffee with my soccer coach, Sonneyboy (yes that’s his real name). I think that Sonneyboy is a real community hero, so I thought I’d share a bit of that with you! Our coach, Sonneyboy, drive my team to every game. Recently, he arrived behind ... read more

Mallory Primm

SwazilandSwaziland

I Am, in Fact, a Researcher

So, you, Joe Taxpaper, may be reading this and wondering why your hard earned money is going to fund Fulbright Scholars such as myself who traipse around Africa on horseback and marvel at Rhinos and how oddly male lions pee. Well, I can’t really help you understand that. You’ll have ... read more

Mallory Primm

SwazilandSwaziland

Tuesday Night is Game Night

It is Tuesday night in Swaziland and for me that means Game Night. In a country of less than a million people, many of whom live below the poverty line, most entertainment here is of the DIY variety. But being an ex-pat in the Kingdom of Swaziland is by no ... read more

Mallory Primm

SwazilandSwaziland

Rhinos and Other Hlane Hightlights

Yesterday I finally got the opportunity to check out Hlane Royal Nature Reserve. After driving for an hour through Manzini toward Siteki on a poorly sign-posted road, we finally turned onto the dirt road to the main camp in Hlane. We decided to take a drive in my old Fiat ... read more

Mallory Primm

SwazilandSwaziland

The Nerd in Me

Although my life is incredibly laid back and I enjoy having adventures, I do sometimes pay homage to the American tax payers and actually do some research. I particularly like going to the University of Swaziland Library and digging through the Swazana section. Its stoked full of all old students’ ... read more

Mallory Primm

SwazilandSwaziland

Country Western and other Music in Swaziland

It’s true that outside of primitive djs spinning pre-mixed CDs of House or cliché hip-hop the live music scene in Swaziland is severely lacking. However, given the infrequency of live performances here, when there is a live band, I go. And usually I’m not disappointed. Back in May there was ... read more

Mallory Primm

SwazilandSwaziland

When the Man's Tired, the Forest Gives

Being hit on is absolutely unavoidable in Swaziland. I would like to think that I’m sought after for my good lucks, charming wit, or unique personality, but the truth is I could be covered in warts with a crocked nose as long as I’m white and female I will have ... read more

Mallory Primm

SwazilandSwaziland

A Three-Hole-Punch and Other Research Hurdles

In my state of fear, disorganization and disillusionment before leaving California for Swaziland, I attempted to fool myself into thinking I was ready by making some superficial preparations. Because the US State Department allows Fulbrighters to ship two boxes of “education materials” to themselves through the diplomatic mail, I loaded ... read more

Mallory Primm

SwazilandSwaziland

The King’s Birthday and Other Political Matters

Swaziland is an anomaly politically. Indeed it is this very reason that I am able to do research at all. I found Swaziland particularly interesting because it has a state sanctioned dual court system of formal Roman-Dutch style magistrate’s courts as well as traditional Swazi National Courts which arbiter on ... read more

Mallory Primm

SwazilandSwaziland

How to run a (Half) Marathon and Get a Private Tour of Robben Island without Even Trying

Cape Town in beautiful. The coastline curves, loops back on itself, points, bends, and does its best to obscure your sense of direction. Majestic Table Mountain rises up behind the city – or is it in front – and keeps the encroaching urban areas in check with forbidding gorges and ... read more

Mallory Primm

SwazilandSwaziland

I'm with the Team

On Sunday I went with my new soccer team, Kappa Ladies, to their game at Mhlambayatsi. Although I’m not yet registered to play (although hopefully will be soon), I went along as a spectator. We met in front of Wild Wingzz in Mbabane. Some of the girls wore their white ... read more

Mallory Primm

SwazilandSwaziland

A Joke About Rape

I’m attending UNISWA’s first annual Law Week.  I enter the hall and, because I’m white and severely underdressed, people assume I’m some sort of honored guest and attempt to seat me at the high table.  It takes me a while to explain, “I’m nobody.”  I attempt to be discreet and ... read more

Mallory Primm

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Books

Check out Swazana in the library

Mallory Primm

17 Jun 2009

Swaziland

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It is not easy to find books about Swaziland. Even Lonely Planet only includes Swaziland as a side note to South Africa. However, the national Library in Mbabane and the university library at UNISWA both have special sections called “Swazana,” consisting of NGO publications, books, student theses, and newspaper clippings. The Swazana section is a great place to get lost for a while. Another reading adventure can be found at the National Archives, which have an impressive collection of Swazi documents dating back to the late 1800s, and perhaps earlier!

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Getting Around

Flap your arm to get a ride

Mallory Primm

17 Jun 2009

Swaziland

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Mallory Primm

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The public transportation system in Swaziland is relatively reliable if slightly intimidating. A network of privately owned minibuses run along set routes throughout the country. In the main cities they can be found in bustling bus stations and by asking around you can find one going your way. Kombies stop at both designated stops and pretty much anywhere along the road. If you can’t find a designated stop, as they are not usually marked, just stick out your arm and flap it enthusiastically and the Kombie will stop for you. Kombies are notorious for driving dangerously and honking often, so a ride in one is never dull. Expect to pay about a dollar for each 10 kilometers of your journey.

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Festivals & Events

Bare-breasted maidens

Mallory Primm

17 Jun 2009

Swaziland

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Mallory Primm

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By far the most well-known and significant festival in Swaziland is the Umhlanga, or Reed Dance. Occurring every year at the end of August or beginning of September, the dance is a way for young women (technically, they need to be virgins) to honor the Queen Mother. The maidens gather reeds to reinforce the Queen Mother’s homestead and then dance bare-breasted and adorned in beaded skirts before the Queen Mother and the King. Often, the King will choose one of the maidens parading before him to be his next wife, although he already has 13.

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Culture Shock

What's shocking is that you might not be shocked

Mallory Primm

17 Jun 2009

Swaziland

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Mallory Primm

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There really is no culture shock in Swaziland, particularly if you’ve traveled anywhere in Africa before. The roads are in good condition and expansive, the cities are safe, and the water drinkable. Perhaps the most shocking thing about heading to this African monarchy is that you feel like you should be shocked by something – after all, you’ve heard that Africa is all poverty and illness and dust – but you’re not.

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Must Do

Rhinos, up close and personal

Mallory Primm

17 Jun 2009

Swaziland

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Mallory Primm

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Swaziland, thanks to the dedication of the Reilly family, is a global example of conservation success in its ability to bring back white rhinos from the brink of extinction. In Hlane Royal National Park and Mkaya Game Reserve you can see plenty of these amazing prehistoric beasts up close and on foot. Very few places in the world allow for such a close encounter in an awe-inspiring example of harmony between development and environment.

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Etiquette

Shake it like a Swazi

Mallory Primm

17 Jun 2009

Swaziland

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Mallory Primm

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The Swazi handshake is an everyday way to show respect. Swazis shake with their right hands. To show respect, which you must do whenever greeting someone older than you, a government official, or a chief, you support your shaking hand between the elbow and the wrist with your left hand. If you are more familiar with the person you can do the Down-Up-Down shake. You grip the other person’s hand in the normal Western fashion and squeeze once, then bring your thumb toward you and your fingers up to squeeze hands in a sort of arm-wrestling fashion, and then do a final squeeze in the normal fashion again. If you’re friends with someone, you will finish this handshake off by pushing your thumbs together and snapping as you draw back your hands.

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Food

How to make pap

Mallory Primm

17 Jun 2009

Swaziland

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Mallory Primm

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The staple food in Swaziland, and most of southern Africa, is pap. Called papa, ugali, and nshima in various neighboring countries, this stiff porridge is made thusly: First, corn is left to dry on the stalk and husked only after the husks have yellowed. Second, the kernels are plucked from the cob and left to dry out either on the side of the road or on tin rooftops until they are rock hard. Third, the kernels are ground, either mechanically or with pistol and mortar until there is practically no nutritional value left in the resulting fine powder. Then the powder is mixed with almost boiling water and beaten tirelessly with a wooden spoon until pap is formed. Pap looks like mashed potatoes and is eaten at every meal with your fingers.

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Film

"Without the King" (Watch it before you come!)

Mallory Primm

17 Jun 2009

Swaziland

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Mallory Primm

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One of the few movies about Swaziland is a documentary called "Without the King." You won’t be able to find the film in Swaziland, though, as it is critical of the King and that usually doesn’t go over well. Rumors in Swaziland would suggest that one of the princesses’ boyfriends took most of the footage and tried to blackmail the King into paying him a huge sum of money in order not to release the footage. The rumor continues that when the King refused, the footage was sold to some documentarians. Whather or not this is true, the film is worth seeing, even if it does paint an overly dire and volatile portrait of Swaziland.

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Packing

Brrrrrrrrr!

Mallory Primm

17 Jun 2009

Swaziland

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Mallory Primm

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Swaziland is a mountainous kingdom and in the winter (June to August), it gets cold. Especially in places like Piggs Peak and the capital of Mbabane, a proper coat is essential. I came to Swaziland with just my college sweatshirt and images of scorching savannahs. I spent many shivering nights learning how to light a fire.

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Religion

Prepare for bible quotes, missionaries, and mega churches

Mallory Primm

17 Jun 2009

Swaziland

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Mallory Primm

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Christianity is definitely the biggest (and practically the only) religion in Swaziland. On Sundays you’ll see baakies (pick-up trucks) full of worshipers dressed in their church uniform, which varies by denomination. Usually the uniform is a long colored robe for men and a dress for women, with a corresponding hat. There are plenty of evangelical “mega churches” whose extravagance stands in odd juxtaposition to the cement block dwellers who frequent the church. American and other Western missionaries abound and bible verses are oft quoted. That said, Swazis are not intolerant of other religions and there is no animosity toward non-Christians. Regardless of which religion you do or do not follow, you will get invited to church.

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Politics

The lion and the she-elephant

Mallory Primm

17 Jun 2009

Swaziland

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Mallory Primm

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Politics in Swaziland are a bit complicated as the governing body is a mixture of traditional and Western forms of government. Swaziland is ruled by a king called Ngwenyama, or lion, and the Queen Mother, Ndlovukazi or she-elephant. Swaziland is still working toward fully implementing its constitution, which took effect in 2005. The political system is called Tinkhundla, which consists of a Prime Minister and Parliament, most of whose members are appointed, rather than elected. The king and his advisory council, the liqoqo, work alongside the Parliamentary system to govern the Swazi people. Political parties are technically banned under the wide net of the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

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Music

The house is on fire

Mallory Primm

17 Jun 2009

Swaziland

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Mallory Primm

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The Bush Fire Music Festival is a big deal in Swaziland. The three-day participatory music festival takes place every year at the end of July. Artists from across Africa come to play for three straight days at the legendary House on Fire. House on Fire is a can’t-miss venue that is the result of a little kid’s imagination and a big kid's budget. This cross between Burning Man and African Bush is the perfect backdrop for the endless dancing, music, and drum-banging that takes place at Bush Fire. House on Fire also hosts live performances through out the year, including such acts as Swaziland's only Country Western band, a visiting American jazz band, and a brass band from Benin.

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Sports

Soccer is where it's at

Mallory Primm

17 Jun 2009

Swaziland

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Mallory Primm

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The big sport in Swaziland is soccer and the best thing to do on a weekend is to head to Somhlahlo National Stadium in Lobamba is to watch a Swazi Premier League Game. It costs about 30 cents to see a game. Women line the sides of the stadium braaing (barbecuing) up meat and kids wander the stands selling beer and peanuts. If you want an adventure, head for the Mbabane Highlanders/Mbabane Swallows derby, which not only draws a crowd, but sometimes starts a riot.

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TV

South African news and scintillating late-night commercials

Mallory Primm

17 Jun 2009

Swaziland

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Mallory Primm

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Swazi TV is a dream for anyone who loves those late-night, locally produced commercials. Some great cheesy local programs in siSwati are sprinkled in with English Premiere League Soccer games. Usually the stations spend a lot of programming time on covering long dry speeches by the King, ribbon cuttings, and formal events. However, most people in Swaziland watch SABC, the South African broadcast, even if it is in Zulu and not siSwati.

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Fashion

Shop at Mr. Price

Mallory Primm

17 Jun 2009

Swaziland

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Mallory Primm

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There really are no fashion trends in Swaziland. For going out, anything tight, cheap, and slutty will usually do. Anything from the local “trendsetting” store, Mr. Price, is considered cool.

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Dating

Beware of women, and women beware

Mallory Primm

17 Jun 2009

Swaziland

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Mallory Primm

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As a foreign male, you will be approached by many local women who are looking for a Sugar Daddy. Even if you are sincerely courting a Swazi woman, expect to pay for everything, including her airtime for her cell phone. For foreign woman in Swaziland, prepare for a daily barrage of cat calls and “proposals” of love and marriage. One older Swazi man explained that it is considered rude not to pass a woman without making a comment about her appearance.

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Health

As long as you wear a condom...

Mallory Primm

17 Jun 2009

Swaziland

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Mallory Primm

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Aside from having the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the world, Swaziland is a good deal healthier than most of its Southern African neighbors. There’s little to no malaria due to the high elevation. The water is drinkable and outbreaks of contagious diseases tend to be isolated and in very rural areas (such as near Big Bend in the Southeast). However, there is a shortage of medical staff in the country and most people who have serious illness and can afford it, choose to be treated in nearby South Africa. But remember, almost 45% of Swazis are HIV positive, so make sure to use a condom!

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Slang

Shame or sharp

Mallory Primm

17 Jun 2009

Swaziland

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Mallory Primm

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Although one of Swaziland’s official languages is English, Swaziland version of English is sometimes hard to follow but when in doubt one of these two words will always work: “shame” and “sharp.” "Shame" can be used anytime to express sadness. It is used in many circumstances, from missing a shot in a soccer game, to stubbing your toe, to offering condolence for the loss of a loved one. "Sharp" (pronounced Shaap) is used for every positive exclamation. It is often accompanied by a double thumbs-up. These two phrases can get you around Swaziland pretty well, even in places were siSwati is more common than English.

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Nightlife

TInkers, the (in)famous nightclub

Mallory Primm

17 Jun 2009

Swaziland

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The nightlife options in Swaziland are pretty limited. However, the industrial center of Manzini does offer a few dark, dirty, and sometimes rough nightclubs -- the most (in)famous of which, and definitely worth a visit, is Tinkers. Tinkers doesn’t get started until around midnight, but stays rocking until the wee hours of the morning. House music is very popular in Swaziland and sometimes you can find DJs spinning hip hop too. The best night to go out are when there’s no cover or when a there’s a battle between Swaziland’s two biggest promotion groups, Big Fun and Swazi Boy.

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Being an American

Will you fit in my suitcase?

Mallory Primm

17 Jun 2009

Swaziland

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Swazis like Americans and will usually want to talk to you about the United States. Often they’ll want to befriend you because it is a common idea that you can get a visa to go to the U.S. if you have a friend in the country already. Many Swazis will ask you to take them with you when you go home. These comments are said in half-jest and the best way to deal with the constant onslaught of these new “friends,” is to joke back. Try something like, “Ah, but I do not think you will fit in my suitcase.”

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