La danse du roseau au Swaziland : quelle interprétation y donner?

Jean Marc Soboth parle de la danse du roseau ou “Umhlanga”, une tradition du Swaziland qui attire de plus en plus de touristes. Est-ce un événement culturel traditionnel qui témoigne de la vivacité de la culture Bantou et Zoulou, ou un événement rétrograde qui exploite les femmes, mises en pature au Roi? Doug et Gwen se mêlent à l’analyse.

Vidéo filmée en 2012 qui montre la cérémonie :


Françafrique’s new revelations, landgrabbing in South Sudan and events in Swaziland, Zambia and Malawi

Françafrique: alive and well
Ameth Lo a member of the Group for reseach and initiatives for the liberation of Africa (GRILA) talks to Amandla’s Gwen Schulman about the latest revelations in high level political relations between France and several african countries.


Fighting landgrabs in South Sudan
Amandla’s Diana Sharpe looks at the largest land deal yet in South Sudan and the fight against it by a local community.


Arab spring, african fall?
Doug Miller talks about the popular mobilisations in Swaziland, elections in Zambia and Red Wednesdays in Malawi.


Audio links are good for about 4 months, but we have saved the files…

Voices asking for democracy in Swaziland/ Des voix s’élèvent pour demander la démocratie au Swaziland

(Liens en anglais/ links in english) nous présente une nouvelle du Swaziland où les syndicats ont initié un mouvement de protestation qui a paralysé le pays. Ce mouvement exige de la part du roi Mswati III, qu’il permette l’ouverture démocratique de son royaume. En effet, le Swaziland est l’une des dernières monarchie absolue de le planète. brings us the news about tiny Swaziland, a small landlocked country stuck between South Africa and Mozambique. This country is one of the last absolute monarchy in the world, but that may come to an end with protests going on that paralysed the country. People want the king, Mswati III , to allow democracy in his kingdom:

Protest Brings Swaziland to a Standstill
By Lunga Masuku, Sowetan 26/7/07
Jul 31, 2007 – 9:10:18 AM

MBABANE – Swaziland ground to a halt today as thousands of workers staged the country’s biggest demonstration for over a decade in a push for multi-party democracy in Africa’s last absolute monarchy.

As riot police and plain-clothed officers kept a close eye on a mass march in the capital Mbabane, union leaders warned such shows of strength would be repeated if King Mswati III and his government did not meet their demands.

“It is about time that the people of Swaziland realise that they made a big mistake by making the king an absolute monarch,” Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions secretary-general Jan Sithole told the marchers in downtown Mbabane.

“If the situation does not change such protests will become the order of the day,” he added as traffic was brought to standstill.

Sithole said the traditional tinkhundla system of government – under which the king retains full executive, legislative and judicial powers – was dragging the country into poverty.

“Seventy percent of the people of the country live below poverty line, while only 10 percent of the ruling elite enjoy the wealth,” he added to a roar of approval from striking workers.

Unionists want a ban on political parties contesting next year’s general election to be overturned, saying that only a multi-party system will bring genuine democracy to the former British colony.

“It was political parties that brought independence to Swaziland and it will be political parties that will liberate the country from the system that now exists,” said Sithole.

He said the protesters did not seek the overthrow of the king, who is husband to 13 wives, but merely to trim his powers.

“Even now political parties and unions want a king that will reign, not rule.”

The protest in Mbabane comes a day after a similar demonstration in the centre of the second city of Manzini.

Schools and government factories were once again closed while while hospitals and banks were operating skeleton services.

Yesterday’s march in Manzini was marred by reports of looting and many shops had closed their shutters in Mbabane in anticipation of fresh violence.

The marchers stoned a furniture shop but there were no other reports of violence.

Government spokesman Percy Simelane insisted the protests had had little impact and said they were “nothing” compared to the last major protests by democracy activists in 1996.

“Our offices and shops are operating normally. However the industrial sector has been slightly affected but this does not scare the government at all,” said Simelane, who had earlier urged unions “to put the economic needs of the country at heart” before striking.

Landlocked Swaziland is one of the poorest countries in Africa, a situation compounded by the Aids pandemic.

It has the highest rate of HIV in the world – with more than 40 percent of adults infected, and 70 percent of the 1.1 million citizens live on less than one dollar a day.

It is also currently facing a major drought, with the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warning earlier this week that more than 400,000 people face starvation as a result of poor maize harvests.

Le SIDA au Swaziland/ AIDS in Swaziland.

Le Swaziland pourrait être considéré comme étant le pays africain le plus touché par le SIDA. En effet, 42% du petit million d’habitants de ce pays en est atteint. L’espérance de vie est passée de 57 ans en 1990 à 33 aujourd’hui. Pour empirer les choses, ce pays agricole vit sécheresses après sécheresses. D’un autre côté, le roi Mswati III mène un train de vie luxueux et éhonté (il faut savoir que le Swaziland est une des dernières monarchies absolues du globe):


Alors que le Swaziland est principalement rural et fait partie des pays les plus pauvres du monde, et que sa population est victime du Sida et de la sècheresse, le roi Mswati III est réputé pour sa passion des voitures luxueuses (en 2004 et 2005, il a acheté pour lui et ses femmes vingt voitures de marque BMW série 5 et 7, ainsi qu’une Daimler-Chrystler Maybach équipée à 500 000 USD); et réclame actuellement au gouvernement de quoi rénover ses palais et en construire onze de plus pour ses épouses. (Wikipédia)

IRIN (voir plus bas) nous parle de la situation que provoque le SIDA. Le tissus social est déstructuré au point où les mauvaises langues parlent de la “disparition du peuple Swazi”.

Swaziland could be considered as the African country with the population the most affected by the AIDS virus. 42% of the population of 1 million is affected. Life expectancy went from 57 years in 1990 to 33 years today! To make things worse, this country has an agriculture that’s going through a series of droughts years after years. On the other side, the King of Swaziland, Mswati III leads a life of luxury (Swaziland is once of the few remaining absolute monarchies in the world).

IRIN, tells us about the social impact of AIDS in Swaziland:

The disintegration of the extended Swazi family, partly as a result of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, has created a new phenomenon of urban homelessness.

A bitter early-winter cold front awakened Swazis this week to a problem nonexistent a decade ago: a seemingly permanent population of homeless people in urban centres. Temperatures plunged to almost freezing point in the capital, Mbabane, and dipped below 0 degrees Celsius in the northern town, Pigg’s Peak and the southern town, Hlatikhulu.

Samuel Dlamini was driven onto the streets of the central commercial hub, Manzini, when family elders advised him to leave after his second wife died of an AIDS-related illness.

“There was nothing to do there [in the rural homestead]. The drought was such that the fields could not be cultivated, so I came to Manzini. I lived with other people in the cemetery before they put in a new gate [to deny access]. I slept on cardboard under a plastic sheet, now I sleep on the pavement under newspapers,” said Dlamini.

Thandi Ngwenya, a social worker attached to the Baphalali Red Cross Society in Manzini said, “Dlamini is typical of the urban transients we see, who have been uprooted from the traditional life on the homestead. Homelessness was unheard of a generation ago, everyone had a home, and a purpose in life”.

Dlamini said it was more productive to scrounge through dumpsters – he does not ask people for money – than sit idle on a dried-up farm. “[At least now]I don’t have to contend with my wife’s family’s hostility”.

AIDS has worsened the problem of homelessness by decimating families. Nearly four out of 10 sexually active Swazi adults are HIV-positive, a scale of suffering that threatens to overwhelm the traditional support system of the extended family.

For many Swazis during this week of plunging temperatures, the sight of ragged people huddled around fires in alleys was a revelation. “These street people never bother us, only the children ask for money. I always assumed they had families, a place to go. But it seems they live outdoors all the time,” said Alicia Simelane, an Mbabane bank teller.

Government’s position is that there are no homeless people in Swaziland, because in this traditional society, everyone has a family homestead, the place of their ancestors, to which they can return.

Complex problem

Social welfare workers said the reality was more complex, in a country that has suffered six succesive years of poor harvests, and where one-third of the one million population is expected to need food aid this season.

“The truth is that poverty has put too much pressure on the traditional family structure. The drought has wasted the fields of subsistence farmers in all regions of the country this year, and HIV/AIDS is another stress factor,” said John Dube, a social science lecturer.

“Before independence [in 1968], most Swazis spent their entire lives within a 50km radius of the family homestead where they were born. Several generations of a polygamous household lived together.I don’t think today that a single traditional homestead like that can be found. The land has been divided and subdivided among children, and the rest have scattered,” said Dube.

A Manzini shop owner told IRIN, “It seems strange that this is a quiet and traditional country, but now we have a homeless population like Johannesburg [South Africa’s business hub].”