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.

24 comments:

Rat said...

Seriously, grinning like a freakin ass. That was quite a story !!!

IdeaSmith said...

The world is full of insanity. This was informative

apu said...

What a freak! Talk about setting an example. Dont know where this country is, but this months Nat Geo mag has a cover story on Africa including coverage of the AIDs prevalence, that would scare the shit out of any reader.

ps : Am adding you on my blogroll. Hope thats ok!

The Girl in the Hat said...

Lets not forget that gods and kings in Hindu mythology have had many wives too. Aids and extravagant expenditures apart, lets not try to judge a culture we don't understand and a people we know very little about. :)


P.S. : Even as a kid, I always knew there was such a thing as a shoe fiend ! I was right. ;)

TomCruiseChellumm said...

There is a common thread of anger in many of the comments to this blog and perhaps rightly so.Anger? Ahem!

Angry Rishis used to curse people at the slightest insult (imagined or real). If all those girls who got rejected formed an association and voted for a suitable curse on their king, what would that be?

I reckon it would go something like this " May you join the 40%"

But in ancient India curses were always followed by suitable relief-- if such and such a thing happens thou shalt return to the present state. Thus indeed Ahalya regained her form after Sri Ram stepped on the form to which she was condemned by a curse ie a rock
But what relief will the King get?

apu said...

TC Chellum, I like your comments always...but your blog address doesnt lead anywhere?

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

girl in the hat - i agree with you about respecting other cultures - if they believe have 100 wives is ok - fine! but kidnapping 11 year olds from schoolgrounds and building palaces while a country is starving to death is something i find hard to accept. :) and yes the shoefiend is not a myth!

tc chellum - i'm sure the king would find some relief from his other wives :D though they may be tempted to join in with the cursing

TomCruiseChellumm said...

Apu
You made my day.
TomCruiseChellum only writes and (as the famous line goes), having writ, moves on.
I have been urged many a time to post blogs. But I like to remain a commentator.
By the way I comment only on the jhootahvali's blogs because she is dear to me (dont try, you will never find out how )

gawker said...

In a perfect world the lion would have slain the king, mated with the king's elephant, raised an army of half lion-half elephants and taken over the kingdom of Swaziland, making it the first ever "animal kingdom".

Sakshi said...

Cool Blog...keep them coming.

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

gawker - now there's a story that would be interesting to read :)

sakshi - thanks! will be dropping by yours very soon too

chappan said...

SF
All I can really say is "Its good to be the king".
Lets dress up the likes of Save-Maharashtra Parimal in skirts and ship em off to Swaziland for the kings pleasure from an exotic land. These assholes sure could use a royal riding, IMHO.

Thanx for stoppin by.
Sourin

velvetbabe said...

Some things never change with the patriarchy do they?

thank you for stopping by, and I left you a note over at my house...

glad to meet a writer such as yourself in here!

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