The Swazi Nation is one with a rich cultural history and fascinating past. The kingdom of Swaziland extends for approximately 200 kilometres, bordered by South Africa and Mozambique and is known for its temperate climate and mountainous terrain. From the towering, enigmatic Lebombo Mountains, to the typified lowveld secreting a vast array of animals and birds, this is a place of tremendous beauty, diversity and contrast.
Tours to the Swazi Nation are extremely popular, due to the realm’s captivating scenery and intriguing cultural multiplicity. The area’s inhabitants predominantly consist of the historic Swazi people, whose culture is very much dominated by tradition and ritual. The country itself is christened after King Mswati I and before British colonisation, the land was ruled by various independent chiefdoms, which were later conquered by the Dlamini clan and incorporated into the Ngwane Kingdom.
These clans are referred to as Emakhandzambile, meaning ‘those found ahead’ – in deference to their existence prior to the Dlamini clan’s occupation of the land. TheBomdzabuko means ‘true Swazi’ and refers to the people who immigrated with the Dlamini Kings, while Emafikemuva means ‘those who came behind’ and refers to people who joined the kingdom after the Dlamini clan gained control.
The Swazi Nation was indirectly influenced by the Second Boer War from 1899-1902, and became a protectorate of the United Kingdom in 1902, with much of its administration being conducted in South Africa. After intensive negotiation and opposition, Swaziland was granted full independence in 1968.
The Swazi people place tremendous emphasis on the traditional homestead, which generally takes the form of a collection of thatched huts and a cattle byre – which is a circular enclosure enclosed by logs and branches. Each homestead is governed by the headman, who oversees the running of the estate and the prosperity of the family; advising his wives and teaching the younger male members of the group.
Many traditional celebrations still occur, including the Incwala or ‘First Fruits’ ceremony which celebrates the new harvest, and the Umhlanga Reed Dance, which is an eight day ceremony involving young, unmarried girls presenting the Queen Mother with cut reeds. The ceremony honours the Queen Mother and encourages chastity. Opt for Swazi Nation tours and explore the ancient, enigmatic kingdom first-hand.