by Linda Kaye
San Antonio, Texas
September 13, 2005
As we entered the main building, two women behind a large counter greeted us. We asked what we might see and what the entrance fee was. We purchased a combination ticket for the Memorial Park and the National Museum for R25 (US$4). One of the women offered to take us through the park as our guide. We gratefully accepted her offer.
Our guide told us that we were welcome to take pictures throughout the park, except of the Mausoleum, where their beloved monarch’s body laid in state before the traditional burial in 1982. We were asked not only to reframe from taking pictures at the Mausoleum, but also not to even point the camera in that direction. This is done out of respect for their king. The Mausoleum is guarded on a 24-hour basis by the Swazi military.
The most predominant feature is a 10-foot bronze statue of King Sohhuza II, with the inscription I Have No Enemy around the top canopy, housing this magnificent figure.
In 1899, a child was born to the royal family, and months later, his father, who would have been king, died. Immediately, the Royal Council selected this child to be their king. He was given the name Sobhuza II. He was only 4 months old. He was educated in a school that his grandmother insisted be built especially for him. In 1916, he left the area for the Cape Province to complete his education. Until King Sobhuza was 22 years old, his grandmother, Queen Labotsibeni, continued to rule her country.
King Sobhuza II was a fierce believer in peace. He skillfully negotiated Swaziland’s independence from Britain. On September 6, 1968, Swaziland became an independent country and not one drop of blood was shed. His dream was for a non-racial society, and he advocated unity among African leaders.
In 1981, thousands of Swazis celebrated 60 years under King Sobhuza rule, and also his 83rd birthday in 1982. He died 1month later and became the longest-reigning monarch in the world. Upon his death, his 18-year-old son was crowned as King Mswati III.
We saw pictures of King Sobhuza II in tribal dress and in a formal suit and top cat. He appeared comfortable in both. He loved automobiles and insisted in driving his Buick himself. Three of his royal vehicles are on display at the Swaziland National Museum.
The National Museum is located across the highway from the Memorial Park. It is a first-class facility that is, although small, quite informative. Allow 1 hour for a visit to the National Museum. It contains information on the Swazi people, King Sobhuza II, and wildlife in the area.
From journal SWAZILAND- You Had Me at Sawubona