Friends & Friction: Swaziland is a true kingdom of mystique

Muzi Kuzwayo CITY PRESS columnistPHOTO:
Muzi Kuzwayo CITY PRESS columnistPHOTO:

They say the boys of Swaziland shit guava trees. Everywhere you walk in this Switzerland of Africa, you see guava trees decorating the landscape with their fruit.

When the boys take the cows out to the pastures, they pick the guavas and, when they have eaten their fill, they squat in the bush. A few years later, another guava tree springs up on that spot.

God created the earth in seven days, they say. As for heaven, He put it at the feet of the Swazis in a place called Ezulwini, which is the Swazi word for heaven.

The trees bloom early here, the monkeys are less naughty and the mambas are so respectful, they keep to themselves.

It is night. The stars are out, the insects are chirping and the Usutu River is gushing along, providing life to fish and crocodiles. Unless you do something stupid like swim in the dark, you’ll be fine.

This is a genteel country. A policeman stops us and then introduces himself, giving us his name, surname and place of origin. For someone who grew up being harassed by the police, this is like escaping from a homeland of cannibals and discovering that not all human beings are out to devour you.

When you drive down Malagwane mountain at night, you’re likely to see a ghost asking for a lift – a respectable lady, she is.

You will feel sorry for her and stop.

She will then take you on a joy ride, and you will go in circles around the city until dawn – or until you run out of fuel.

She only targets married men.

When a young man wants to take a wife, he brings his future bride home, and then sneaks out of his hut to tell his sisters so they can come and check her out.

They start to hurl insults at her: “Who the hell are you, you little whore?”

If she doesn’t begin to cry, she’s seen and heard it all, which means that she is indeed a whore. But if she cries, they paint her with red cream and send her back home with two cows. The cream is called “don’t touch”, which warns boys not to try to be friendly with her because she’ll soon be someone else’s wife.

I didn’t see women in red this time – like many fun traditions, this one has also vanished – but while I was sitting in a restaurant, a woman approached my cousin Godna and said they were having a bridal shower, and the bride-to-be was supposed to kiss a stranger.

Would we agree to such, she asked. Without consulting us, Godna agreed on our behalf.

The young lady appeared.

She looked as if she had just stepped out of a Parisian fashion magazine.

Her eyes were sparkling like diamonds, and they gazed into a blissful future. She looked at Mike Tsoaeli, smiled and then acknowledged Simon Msiza. Joe Gumede had vacated his seat, so only Vusi Nhlapho and I were left to compete.

It turned out to be my day.

“I can’t believe she chose the ugly one,” someone whispered.

Ezulwini is bordered by the Mdzimba Mountains, the abode of past kings. In African culture, the king never dies – he bows.

Only royalty is allowed here, but one day a mad man breached the heavy security and entered, and he was immediately cured of his mental illness.

Swaziland may be a small country, but it occupies a big place in the hearts of many tourists because of its myths and mystique.

That is the key to building your business – create a mystique.

Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency

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