Swaziland’s king has officially renamed the tiny landlocked African nation the “Kingdom of eSwatini” to commemorate 50 years since establishing independence from British rule.
The name “Swaziland” has reportedly angered some in the country, since it is a mix of “Swazi” and “England”. The new name means “land of the Swazis” in the local Swati language.
King Mswati III, Africa’s last remaining absolute monarch, announced the change at the nation’s Golden Jubilee (50th anniversary) celebrations of Swazi independence, and additionally of his 50th birthday.
The king has referred to the “Kingdom of eSwatini” several times in recent years – in an address to the UN General Assembly in 2017 and at the African Union convention, plus other international conferences.
Addressing a large crowd gathered in a stadium in the city of Manzini, 25 miles east of the capital Mbabane, the king said Swaziland was reverting to the original name it had before being colonised by the British.
The impoverished southern African nation – a member of the Commonwealth – gained independence from Great Britain in 1968.
“I would like to announce that from today onwards, our country will be known as the ‘Kingdom of eSwatini,’” the king declared.
“Whenever we go abroad, people refer to us as Switzerland,” he continued, claiming the name caused confusion.
The king, who wore a red and black military uniform and rode in an open car into the stadium, said he wanted his country to have a name people could identify with.
Most Swazi people struggle to earn a living in agriculture, often cultivating sugar. There is widespread poverty in a country with the world’s highest HIV/Aids infection rate.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen attended the event while on a visit to a country, which is one of the few to maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan rather than Beijing.
Reuters contributed to this report.
* This article was automatically syndicated from The Independent.