Sunday, July 31, 2011


We begin our tour in Mbabane with a view from the U.S. Ambassador's front porch. (Gloria's is about three blocks away.) 57% of the wealth of the nation is held by the richest 20% of the population (perhaps most of them named Dlamini). The king has personal wealth of about US$200 million and I recently heard (unsubstantiated) that tibiyo (the wealth of the kingdom from colonial days) is nearly E70 billion. The king controls tibiyo. Corruption drains away E80 million each and every month. The poorest 20% has 4% of the nations wealth.
Siteki is perhaps rather unusual because it is the administrative center for the Lubombo region so there is much government housing such as this. Minor officials and civil servants live in government housing; also teachers, but not as grand as this. We go by here every time we go into town. Siteki is now dark because the city couldn't afford to pay the electric bill for street lights.

A photo of our next door neighbors taken from our front door. Only 3% of the total population is over 65. The life span is shorter than 32 years.
Another example of the financial crisis here; the FDMA (an agency equivalent to the US FEMA) had a budget of E55 million two years ago; this year the budget is E14 million but they aren't sure they will be able to support that.

A homestead in the fertile Mahamba valley. 76% of the population is rural, 24% urban.

This is a homestead south of us in the Shizelweni region. An extended family will live here; rondavels for sleeping, a common 'kitchen'. 47% of the nation exhibit clinical malnutrition.

A stick and wattle in the lowveld. 70% of Swazis are subsistance farmers; 70% live below the poverty level.

A homestead in the lowveld. The traditional rondavel and updated block hut.

Traditional style, with thatched roof, but modernized by using 'concrete' block (which crumbles like sand), a beautiful front door (a door!), and note the satellite dish.

Gogo in front of her stick & wattle on Hannah's homestead.

This is Hannah's homestead--her rondavel is on the right without water or electricity. Do you understand why a visit to our palace is worth the trip in a khumbi?

Each of the king's 13 wives has her own palace as does the widows of Siphuza II, all widely scattered around the kingdom, and all enjoy amenities such as chauffeured cars and expense accounts--at public expense.

Inside our palace on a Friday night.

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