Sunday, December 07, 2008

One hundred and one Swaziland destinations - #26: "Swazi Candles"

A Swazi candle-maker (

Swaziland is historically a cattle-based society, and fresh bread is considered a delicacy. Butchers are bakers therefore abound. But what of candle-stick makers?

I have written before (Swaziland destination #16, I believe) about the Ngwenya glass factory, where broken shards are melted into molten lava and then, with a spin of a pole and a few flicks of a spatula, become transparent elephants, rhinos, lions, giraffes and other forms...including fancy wine glasses.

Swazi Candles is the waxen version of the glass factory, and we are not merely talking about wax sticks. There are few animals in the Kingdom (the Animal Kingdom, that is) that do not have some representation in the showroom. For the classicist, there are some stick designs, but these are carefully patterned or pied so that one does not mistake them for ordinary candles.

I have attached several examples below. See for more information.


The king, the pawns, the same unfortunate box - Recent media

In a recent article in The Economist magazine titled, It’s Good to be King, the author asks why Zimbabwean leadership is being condemned worldwide while the Swazi king et al have escaped similar scrutiny. According to the article, Swaziland, the current rotating chair of the body dealing with peace and security for the Southern African Development Community (SADC), has banned political parties since 1973, while the Swazi king recently placed the opposition leader behind bars.

As readers of this blog (as well as Economist readers) know, Swaziland is hungry and poor. It leads the world in HIV prevalence (Botswana, where I currently live, is a close second). Though this blog for the most part avoids direct, bare-knuckle political commentary, the article linked above does not. It suggests that Swaziland’s leadership, beyond that demonstrated by HIV prevalence, is poor, and that the countries ailments are continually perpetuating by (and I am paraphrasing here) a monarchical milieu of polygamy, decadent royal spending, and, on substantial matters of governance and public health, careless inaction.
Here is the link again, in case you missed it.