Swaziland 1

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Swaziland 1

I was a member of the first Peace Corps group to serve in Swaziland, herein referred to as Swaziland 1. We did our training in Baker, Louisiana, near Baton Rouge. We flew to Swaziland in January of 1969. Most members of the group served for two years, 1969 and 1970. I served for three years, through 1971. For all three years I taught, mostly science, at a junior high school in the town of Hlatikulu.
I have arranged the photos I took during my service into categories, which can be accessed via links in the menu to the left. I don't remember the details of many of these photos, and the names of the people in them. I am hoping that some of my cohorts will recognize the content and people in these photos and let me know. Each photo has a reference label in the lower left corner.

The country

Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, is a small country in southeast Africa. It is almost completely surrounded by South Africa with the exception of its norheast border with Mozambique.It extends approximately 100 miles north to south, and 75 miles east to west. The terrain is generally quite hilly and pleasant, mostly grassland. It is more rugged on the west side, a region sometimes called the highvelt, with a maximum elevation of 1,862 m (6108 feet). The east side, sometimes called the lowvelt, is more characterized as sloping plains with a minimum elevation of 21 m (79 ft). Temperatures are moderate in the highvelt, rather cool in the winter. It has been known to snow there on rare occasions. The low velt gets uncomfortably hot in the summer. Summer is the rainy season, with frequent thunderstorms.

Swaziland became a British protectorate in 1903 and gained its independence in 1968. At the time of independence it had a constitution promulgated by the British in 1963. It also had a legislature and a senate. However in 1973 King Sobhuza II suspended the constitution and dissolved the legislature, making Swaziland one of the few remaining absolute monarchies in the world. Sobhuza II died in 1982 after ruling for almost 83 years, making him the longest reigning monarch in history. There followed a period of regencies with the queen regent as head of state, later replaced by the queen mother. The current king or Ngwenyama (lion), Mswati III, was crowned on 25 April 1986. In the 2010's public protests and trade union strikes have resulted in some reforms. There is a Parliamnent, but it appears that Mswati III holds most of the power.

The Swazis are descended from the Bantu people who migrated from Africa's Great Lakes Region 2,000 to 3,000 years ago. The language, siSwati, is essentially a dialect of Zulu. The population is a little larger than 1.1 million people.

The economy includes agriculture, forestry, mining, and manufacturing. Most of the high value crops, sugar, citrus, and forestry, are grown on commercial farms. These farms are characterized by high levels of investment, irrigation and high production. However about 75% of the population is employed in low productivity subsistence farming. This partially explains the country's low growth, high inequality and unemployment. Manufacturing is primarily textiles and sugar related processing. Eswatini has been devastated by HIV/AIDs, probably contributing to low growth.

Manzini is the largest town, population approx. 46,000, and would be the commercial center. The capital Mbabane, population approx. 38,000, is the second largest. In third place is Nhlangano in the southern Shiselweni district, population approx. 4,000.