We started the day early as we wanted to squeeze in a visit to a Swazi village before leaving Swaziland. I was really looking forward to learning about the Swazi culture. I was surprised to find that before getting on the bus, all of the girls had to put on a long colored skirt over our trousers and we were told that while in the village we would have to keep our legs crossed. The boys, of course, laughed loudly and made fun of this ( but I think they were secretly jealous of our funky skirts).
We were greeted by a friendly and enthusiastic group of men from the tribe. They were wearing traditional Swazi dress which consisted of colorful cloths, an orange armband and animal skin draped over their private parts. Despite all of these clothes, they did not seem to concerned about concealing their rear parts, as these were displayed clearly whenever the cloths caught the breeze (but they did have pants on underneath!).
We learned about many of the traditions of the tribe. The people of the village are ruled by a Chief. This position is inherited but it is not the eldest, but the most capable son of the chief who succeeds him when he dies. One of the nicest traditions was the Swazi dancing and singing which the Swazis do to ‘show we are happy‘, in the guides words. The Swazis always do this dance when they see their chief because seeing their chief makes them very happy. They appear to be a lot more satisfied with their rulers than we are…
The guides were brilliant at getting us all involved and trying out different traditions of a village. Two of the boys were dressed up with spears and animal skins, I got to grind up some maize with a stone and one of the girls laid down in a bed, lying on the floor on animal skin and resting her head on a pillow made of a wooden log!
Although some of the Swazi traditions were quite different to ours (for example their self-sufficiency, sacrifice of animals and unusual cluck-like singing) I felt that they also had a lot of similar values. They are quite a liberal society as they are accepting of all religions in the tribe allowing members to practice whatever they wish. Girls and boys choose their own spouses and girls are not allowed to marry until they are over 18. Education is very important and they go to school in the villages. Also, they are very liberal about marrying outside the tribe, even white people!