The king of Swaziland, the last absolute monarch of Africa, announced that his country changed its name to “eSwatini”, a decision made public on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the independence of this small state of Southern Africa.
“I would like to announce that Swaziland will return to its original name,” said King Mswati III in Manzini (centre), the country’s second largest city.
“At independence, all African countries have taken over their former name, the one before the colonization,” he said in front of a crowded stadium.
“Swaziland is the only country to have kept its name from the colonial era, so from now on, the country will officially be called the eSwatini Kingdom,” he added.
ESwatini means “the country of Swazis”, in Swati language. The name Swaziland is a mixture of Swati and English languages.
A former British protectorate, this small mountainous country, landlocked between South Africa and Mozambique, gained independence in 1968.
During the colonial era, African countries changed their name. But once the independence gained, they sometimes renamed themselves. The Belgian Congo became Zaire before taking the name Democratic Republic of the Congo, Southern Rhodesia is called Zimbabwe, the Côte d’Or was renamed Ghana.
In power since 1986, King Mswati III is regularly pinned by the international community and NGOs for its expensive lifestyle despite the great poverty of its population, as well as for its repeated violations of human rights.