This week, King Mswati III of Swaziland made the surprising announcement that he plans to change the very name of his nation.
The last absolute monarch in Africa, the King made this announcement during the joint celebration for his 50th birthday and the 50th anniversary of the country’s independence Britain. The country will now be called eSwatini, which translated to ‘land of the Swazis’. He feels that this will help the people reclaim their pre-colonial heritage, while at the same time eliminating confusion with Switzerland.
The newly renamed Kingdom of eSwatini lies in southern Africa, bordered on almost all sides by South Africa. It is home to over 1.3 million people. The current ruler, King Mswati III has been ruling since he turned 18 in 1986, after the death of his father, King Sobhuza II, in 1982. King Sobhuza ruled for a record 82 years.
The announcement has been criticized by some citizens who feel that their king should be focusing on more demanding issues, such as their struggling economy, lack of freedom of expression, or the continuing HIV/Aids epidemic.
However, now that an official decree regarding the change has been made, the country will have to set about removing references to Swaziland. License plates, uniforms, currency, government websites, and even internet domain names need to be changed. The name also has to be internationally recognized by the UN and the Commonwealth.