Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Stereotypes and Swaziland

Mswati III has 13 wives and hosts an annual dance where he can choose a new bride from tens of thousands of bare-breasted virgins.
From a Guardian article (h/t Humanosphere) in which pro-democracy activists accuse Coca-Cola of being responsible for the plight of Swaziland because they pay taxes.  But that's a whole different problem.

This problem - with the quote - bugs me more right now. It bugs me because it is representative of a subtle and all-too-common attempt to blame polygamy (and possible the terrible African 'savagery' of bare-breasted virgins) for Swaziland's plight. Because it is clearly impossible to have more than one wife and preside over a functioning economy, not to mention democracy. In spite of all evidence to the contrary just across the border where South Africa - which many consider a fully functioning democracy and Africa's largest economy - is presided over by a man with three wives and one fiance (at last check).

King Mswati III may well be a terrible leader. He may even be a 'bad man'. But his 13 wives are probably not the reason the country is in trouble. The current crisis, in case anyone has forgotten, was precipitated by a drop in revenue from the regional customs union. An economic crisis in a country with pre-existing political problems.

In the interests of logic, debate and maybe, just maybe, finding actual solutions, media and commentators may want to limit their discussions to reality instead of wandering off into fancifully implying that Swaziland's problems have anything to do with the marital choices of the King.

1 comment:

  1. The King plays a critical role in the governance of the country and so long as he is instead playing with so many wives how can he have the time and focus to put the affairs of the nation ahead of his other passionate affairs?

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