ESWATINI NATIONAL TRUST COMMISSION

Conserving Eswatini's Natural and Cultural Heritage
Eswatini National Trust Commission
 

Our logo is adapted from a painting by Phillip Dlamini, 1998, of a purple crested turaco. In traditional Swazi dress, the red feathers feature in the royal headdress, so this bird illustration is not only a symbol for wildlife conservation, but also of cultural heritage.

Purple crested turaco

Swazi Culture

INTRODUCTION

Dancing and singing, including praise-singing, are prominent in Swazi culture. Pottery and carving were minor arts.

BIRTH

Soon after birth, plants and types of animal fur specific to the child's clan are collected, burnt, and the child is made to inhale the smoke, to promote its well-being.

MARRIAGE

marriage dowry/"lobola":
Man's family give cattle (usually 15) to bride's family. Sometimes paid in "instalments".

traditional wedding/"umtsimba":
Usually on a weekend in dry season (June - August). Bride and her relatives go to groom's homestead on Friday evening. Saturday morning - bridal party sit by nearby river, eat beast (goat/cow) offered by groom's family; afternoon - dance in the groom's homestead. Sunday morning - bride, with her female relatives, stabs ground with a spear in man's cattle kraal, later she is smeared with red ochre. The smearing is the high point of marriage - no woman can be smeared twice. Bride presents gifts to husband and his relatives.

DEATH

Commoners are buried next to homestead, kings and royals in mountain caves. Funerals are important as means of the extended family meeting from time to time. A month after the funeral they meet again to wash away the contamination of death.

RELIGION

A supreme God/creator was recognised, but more important were the spirits of ancestors. Beasts were slaughtered and beer was brewed to please (propitiate) the spirits, and ask for help.

MEDICINE

Traditional healers are still widespread:
inyanga (doctor) heals with home-made medicines;
sangoma (diviner) usually female, communicates with spirits to reveal solutions to problems;
umtsakatsi (witch/wizard) harms or kills people through magic.

PRAISES

Swazis excel in praise-poetry I praise-singing. Praise-singers compose praises for every king, chief and prominent person. Even bus-conductors shout the praises of their bus.

SURNAMES

Using a person's surname shows more respect than using their given names. Every surname has an extension or set of praise-names which may be used to greet, thank or bid a person farewell. e.g. "Nkhosi ("Lord/Lady" or "Sir/Madam"), Dlamini (surname), wena wekunene ("you of the right"), wena weluhlanga ("you of the reed"), mlangeni lomuhle ("beautiful one of the sun"), Nkhosi!

CLOTHING

Boys and men wore loin-skins of selected wild animals. Girls wore grass skirts. A woman with a child wore a cow-skin skirt, and put her hair up in a bun/"bee-hive" hairstyle. A married ("lobola'ed") woman wore a goat-skin apron over her shoulder.

REGIMENTS

Every man belonged to an age-regiment, for war and tribute labour. Formed by the king about every 5 years. Young men opted to be permanent warriors attached to royal homesteads. Colour of cow-hide shield and other decorations identify the regiment. King calls them out 4 times a year Incwala (January or December), weeding King's sorghum fields (January), harvesting sorghum (May) and threshing sorghum (July).

Swazi Lifestyle

Traditional Attire

Ceremonial Attire

Our Contacts:
Head Quarters: (+268) 2416 1489/1179
Email: info@sntc.org.sz

King Sobhuza II Park: (+268) 2416 1489/1179
Email: ksmp@sntc.org.sz

National Museum: (+268) 2416 1489/1179
Email: curator@sntc.org.sz


Copyright © ESWATINI NATIONAL TRUST COMMISSION

Malolotja Nature Reserve: (+268) 2444 3241 / (+268) 2416 1480
Email: culturalvillage@sntc.org.sz

Mantenga Nature Reserve and Swati Cultural Village: 2416 1151/1178
Email: culturalvillage@sntc.org.sz

Mlawula Nature Reserve: (+268) 2444 3241/ (+268) 2416 1480
Email: culturalvillage@sntc.org.sz

Magadzavane Lodge: (+268) 2343 5108/9
Email: magadzavane@sntc.org.sz

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