Why did Swaziland change its name to eSwatini

The King of Swaziland wants to rename his country "eSwatini"

One of the reasons for the decision is that the country is too often confused with Switzerland.

(dpa / fs.) The king of the small African state Swaziland wants to rename his country "eSwatini". One of the reasons for that? His home country has too often been confused with Switzerland. In English, the countries actually sound very similar: Swaziland - Switzerland. The king announced the renaming at a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Swazi independence from Great Britain.

The Swiss ambassador to South Africa, Helene Budliger Artieda, who also represents the diplomatic concerns of the Swiss in Swaziland, is also pleased about the name change. Just recently at the funeral of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, ex-wife of the former South African President Nelson Mandela, her deputy, Balz Abplanalp, was given a name tag with the words “Swaziland” instead of “Switzerland”.

"It is certainly a plus in everyday life that Swaziland will now be called differently," explains Budliger Artieda in an interview with the NZZ.

King Mswati III is the last absolute monarch in Africa. The new name of the country, "eSwatini", translates as "Land of the Swazi" in the local language. With the departure from the name Swaziland, a relic from the colonial era should also be removed, said the ruler. The previous name Swaziland was a mixture of an English and a Swasi component.

The anniversary of the country's independence also coincided with the monarch's 50th birthday, April 19, 1968. King Mswati III announced the renaming at a stage in the country's second largest city, Manzini, 40 kilometers from the capital Mbabane . Here he explained that Swaziland was called "eSwatini" before colonization.

"I would like to announce that from today on, our country will take the name" The Kingdom of eSwatini "," he said in front of the crowd. He wore a black and red military uniform and drove into the stadium in a red open convertible.

The country is legally returning to its original name. It wasn't the first time the king had used the new name publicly. Last year he gave a speech at the UN and already said “eSwatini” to denote his country. A constitutional amendment may be necessary for the official change. In addition, important state institutions have to be renamed - such as the Royal Police of Swaziland, the Swaziland Armed Forces and the University of Swaziland.

The small landlocked country is sandwiched between South Africa and Mozambique. King Mswati III rules without any restrictions, he is the last absolute monarch in Africa. Critics accuse him of his lavish lifestyle, which is clearly different from the everyday deprivation of many of his subjects.

The country's inhabitants are among the poorest peoples in Africa. They live mainly from agriculture and grow sugar. The country has one of the highest AIDS rates.

In southern Africa, several states changed their names after independence. Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, Nyassaland became Malawi, and Bechuanaland is now called Botswana.