'Exercise in envy'

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'Exercise in envy'

Post  LeeRain on Mon Nov 14, 2011 7:07 am

While most of Africa's kingdoms were felled in the age of colonialism, 6 September 1968 saw the establishment of a tiny kingdom surrounded by rolling hills and ruled over by one absolute monarch whose word was law.

Now 42, the kingdom is run by King Mswati III, also 42.

Two years ago when the kingdom celebrated its 40th anniversary of independence, the celebrations were known as "40/40" - for the young king was the kingdom, and the kingdom the young king.

Such absolute power, say his critics, is out of step with the age of democracy.

The king can appoint the prime minister, he is not overly keen on political opposition and trade unions from within the kingdom and their international colleagues in Cosatu over in South Africa have been constantly denied active space to operate. What is it about the young king that gets democratic forces and human rights bodies so annoyed?
A policeman and boy scouts keep watch as maidens take part in the annual Reed Dance at Ludzidzini, the royal palace in Swaziland August 30, 2010 Swaziland's young girls parade before the king, who can choose one as his wife

Watching the Swazi reed dance the other day, at which the monarch - already married to 13 women - chooses another wife should he want one, it struck me that being a guest at such an occasion must truly be an exercise in envy.

There you are, say, as an 85-year-old Robert Mugabe, special guest to the young royal, watching your 40-something host being presented with the finest specimens of womanhood in all of southern Africa and all he has to do is pick one. Having done so, he speeds off in one of his many BMWs to spend an evening with his new companion or perhaps all 14 of them.

How charmed can his life be?

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