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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Swaziland, the last absolute monarchy of Africa, will be called eSwatini

Por Jade

The King of Swaziland, Mswati III, during the celebrations for his 50th birthday renamed the small African country "eSwatini's kingdom", the name with which the Swazi, the ethnic majority of the nation, know it. "The king says that from now on the kingdom leaves behind its colonial name," the director of the local daily Swazi Observer, Mbongeni Mningo, reported on Twitter.

Swaziland, the name by which this nation of less than 200 kilometers and last absolute monarchy of Africa is known, is the translation of the English of eSwatini, which in the local language means "the place of Swati". So it is not a big change for more than a million Swazis (90% of the population) who referred to it as such, and who already saw that name in their passports or official documents. "Every country changes its name after its independence, and Swaziland continued to be called that, until today," Mningo said.

An official change of name implies a modification of its Constitution, in force since 2006, and of any official entity that retains the old name. The country, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of its independence this year, is one of the few absolute monarchies that still exist in the world, along with Qatar, Burnéi, Oman and Saudi Arabia, among others. Although the name change has been unexpected, according to the BBC the monarch has been referring to his country as the Kingdom of eSwatini for years and in fact was the name he used when he addressed the UN General Assembly in 2017 and at the inauguration of the Parliament in 2014.

According to the BBC, the name change has generated some uneasiness in the country, the last absolute monarchy in Africa and in recent years has been registering protests calling for the establishment of a democracy. The monarch, popularly known as 'Ngwenyama' (lion), has a total of 15 women and is often seen dressed in the traditional costume of the country. Mswati II acceded to the throne with 18 years in 1986 to the death of his father, King Sobhuza II, who reigned for 82 years and was crowned with a few months of life. The progenitor of the current monarch had 125 women during his reign.

It is worth remembering that the now eSwatini kingdom is one of the least developed countries in Africa; around one in five people is infected with the AIDS virus (according to UNAIDS in 2017) and life expectancy is 49 years (World Bank, 2015), the unemployment rate is around 50 percent and six of each ten inhabitants are below the poverty line.