The year 2018 marks 50 years of independence for the Kingdom of eSwatini, as well as the 50th birthday of its ruler, King Mswati III. In celebration of this Southern African country’s year of 50:50—the double Golden Jubilee celebrations—we look into its history with these 10 intriguing facts.
eSwatini’s kings are polygamous. Mswati III has 15 wives and his father, Sobhuza II (the longest reigning monarch in history) had 70. That makes for a huge number of princes and princesses. You can generally spot a member of the royal family in a crowd because they are entitled to wear red feathers in their hair.
Do you want to buy a piece of land? You’ll have to pay the village headman in cows. Planning to get married? You’ll have to pay the price for the bride in cows. In eSwatini, a single cow costs around $500 USD, and if you wish to marry one of the (many) princesses, the price can be as high as 300 cows.
In eSwatini, it’s customary for women to not eat the head or feet of a cow. It is believed that if a woman eats the brains of a cow, she will become intelligent; if she eats the tongue, she will talk back to her husband; and if she eats the feet, she will run away. For the same reason, Swazis say that you should never buy your wife a pair of shoes.
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