Wednesday, August 31, 2005
13th time lucky?
last week, King Mswati of Swaziland embarked on a hunt for his 13th wife and watched thousands of bare chested hopefuls perform the Reed Dance before making his choice.
The 37-year-old is King of a country with one of the highest AIDS prevalence rates in the world -- close to 40 percent of its adults are infected. Not only that, in order to keep his wives apart from one another, Mswati has decided to build new palaces for each of them. The International Monetary Fund has advised the government against luxury expenditures in the face of 'a declining economy, a record high budget deficit, rising poverty and food shortages among ordinary Swazis.' But Mswati said he would continue to spend as he sees fit.
The traditional Reed Dance was videotaped by courtiers so the king could review the participants later (eww). The ceremony has developed a reputation as an audition to join Mswati's household, with a number of previous dancers having been selected as royal brides. But not all are willing participants. Two girls were abducted from their schoolyards without their parents' permission. Mswati, who already has 11 official wives, has another fiancee chosen in 2002 who is still awaiting a traditional marriage ceremony.
Women's rights groups had expressed hopes that Mswati would be satisfied with 12 wives, although Swazi tradition puts no limit on the number a king may select. Mswati's father, King Sobhuza, had more than 40 wives and is said to have sired about 600 children.
I still haven't decided what's the worse thing about this story. Thousands of teenage girls dancing in the hope of becoming 'Queen'. The fact that this man spent millions on his Birthday celebrations and grandiose architectural vision while most of country gets by on about $1 a day.
Or that with the AIDS epidemic staring him in the face he leads by example and gets married every year.
Also I don't see what the fuss is about. I mean look at him.
Update: Before his coronation, the King had to prove his bravery and valour by slaying a lion. A task he readily completed. And why wouldn't he - the poor beast was sedated.