Swaziland’s King Mswati III, Africa’s last absolute monarch, on April 19, 2018 officially changed the name of his country to the ‘Kingdom of eSwatini’. The announcement was made during the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the King’s 50th birthday as well as the 50th anniversary of Swazi’s independence from British colonial rule. Accordingly, the country, a member of the Commonwealth, will now be known by its historic name of eSwatini, a Swazi language name that stands for ‘place of the Swazi’.
1. As per the past trends, African countries reverted to their ancient names on getting independence. Nyasaland became Malawi, Rhodesia became Zimbabwe and Bechuanaland became Botswana.
2. Moreover, the name ‘Swaziland’ angered the citizens as it is a mix of Swazi language and English. Also, there had been moments when ‘Swaziland’ was confused with ‘Switzerland’.
3. King Mswati III has also referred to the country as the ‘Kingdom of eSwatini’ several times in his speeches, such as, during his address to the UN General Assembly in 2017, at the African Union and during other international conferences.
4. Considering this, several proposals regarding the change of country’s name were mooted in past years; however, it was only in 2015 that the legislators considered the issue.
It could also drive changes for the Royal Swaziland Police Force, the Swaziland Defence Force and the University of Swaziland. Now that the ‘Swaziland’ has been renamed to ‘eSwatini’, this may lead to the redrafting of the country’s constitution. The new name will have to be registered with the international bodies like the United Nation, the Commonwealth, African Union and World Trade Organization.