After spending the night in the Marriott Fire & Ice, which is adjacent to a lovely outdoor mall and shopping area, far from the chaos and danger of downtown Johannesburg, I journeyed four hours by car to Swaziland.
It a fascinating journey through Swaziland, or should I say e Swatini, as the king just decided to re-name the country. Why? Who knows, but he says it was to commemorate the country’s 50th anniversary, touting its progress and prosperity. When you ask the locals about the name change, they have no comment … because what the king wants … he gets. This is an absolute Monarchy. A Swazi gentleman in the immigration line in front of me said that anyone questioning the king disappears! But there’s more to this: It’s a country where men are taught to respect their village elders, without question. So, if your father or an elder do something you don’t agree with …you keep your mouth shut. Therefore, when the king decides he wants to change the country’s name … or build an international airport … get this …. 1.5 hours from downtown … no one utters a peep. They just say, “Good idea, your highness!” Nevermind, you can travel east to west from border to border in two hours … and that the old airport was a short drive from downtown. An hour and a half to the airport?! And, nevermind that thousands of companies will have to re-brand their businesses to reflect the new name. More practically speaking … what will the Swazi people call themselves … the eSwatini people – doubt it!
Drove 90 minutes outside of Mbabane (pronounced Meb – Han – Yay) to a small Swazi village, where we prepared dinner. We collected some corn from the field, ground it up, added some flour, milk, a little oil, salt and sugar and then put the batter inside a corn stalk, and placed it next to the fire. About 45 minutes later we had some delicious corn bread.
I cut up some pumpkin stalks and leaves, when boiled with pumpkin mush, served as our veggies. Corn was prepared 5 different ways for this meal:
***as a drink, corn bread, as a porridge, like sticky rice, grilled corn
Lastly, we caught and cleaned a chicken. They asked me to have the honor of killing the chicken; I declined (poor chicken)!
The meal we cooked was enough to feed the small village and everyone in the village partook. It was a lovely place to visit and tourists overnight there, staying in clay huts with thatch roofs.
I spent the night at the Royal Villages, which is Mebabane’s finest hotel
Note: Swaziland has one of the highest incident rates of AIDS in the world, currently at 30%. There were condom machines and samples all around the country encouraging prevention. Monogamy is not practiced here … and not culturally relevant in relationships.