Swaziland: Africa in a Nutshell?

Swaziland: Africa in a Nutshell?

Ann Harris Davidson, CFIS-AIA
April 9, 2017

Swaziland is seldom referenced in international news but it encapsulates much of both the positive and negative views of Africa; in some ways, it is “Africa in a nutshell”, but small can be stunning, as Swaziland’s unique and compelling characteristics demonstrate. Conflicts have usually driven the international news of Africa but Swaziland’s last implication in any war was more than a century ago and was in a war not of its making.  What factors might have led to Swaziland’s relative peacefulness?  Swaziland has cultural and other characteristics that merit consideration in both the African and global contexts. One of these is that Swaziland has the world’s highest prevalence of people living with HIV and AIDS. What factors might have led to Swaziland becoming the world’s hot spot for HIV? Another phenomenon that distinguishes Swaziland: it is the only national absolute monarchy in Africa. What are the impacts of an absolute (as opposed to a constitutional) monarchy?  And last but not least, Swaziland is a world-class tourist destination with a temperate climate; geography varying from African savannah to stunning mountain scenery in just 100 miles; 4,000 year-old San (Bushman) paintings at the Nsangwini Rock Art Shelter; the annual Umhlanga ceremony that is one of Africa’s significant cultural events; and unrivalled opportunities for wildlife viewing and photography through adventure and ecotourism in safe and uncrowded conditions.  Ann Harris Davidson will present some of the history, geography, culture and politics of Swaziland in the context of these dichotomies.

Ann Harris Davidson graduated from the University of Saskatchewan, worked as the Assistant Director of the Institute for Fitness Research & Training in Adelaide, South Australia, and then earned a Master’s degree in Public Health at the University of Sydney. She was the first non-African child to have been born in the north-east of Swaziland, spending her entire childhood there. Since leaving Swaziland, she has lived on four continents, working with governments and universities in Canada, Australia, France, and Maryland, as well as in Cameroon in 2012-2013.  She is also the author of a well-received book of the history of a Maryland town, “Berwyn Heights: Then & Now”.

Supported by Albuquerque City Council, Haverland Carter Lifestyle Group
& Sandia Labs Federal Credit Union