Swaziland Culture

Swaziland culture is built around the traditional homestead with the kagogo (granny's hut) being the focus of life and the sibaya (cattle byre) also playing an integral role. Next to the kagogo is the edladeni (main kitchen) which is where the women in the homestead will gather in the early evening to share knowledge with the young girls about the facts of life and the role of women in Swaziland culture and society.

At the same time the men and boys of the family will gather in their own designated area ~ the esangweni ~ and the father will teach the boys similar facts of life, sex education and the role of the Swazi male.

Neither the males nor females will enter each other's areas and the girls and boys will sleep in separate huts either side of the homestead.

Next to the kagogo is the first wife's traditional beehive hut and her kitchen, then the other wife's huts extending outwards in an arc, each with their own kitchen. One of the reasons the homestead has such a fundamental role in Swaziland culture is the belief that the spirits of the family's ancestors reside within the homestead.

Swazi people believe that life continues after death and their traditional lifestyle is guided by these ancestors. As such, bringing a bride, an unknown spirit, into the homestead, is a major event and new brides will often be abused by the existing women in fear that she may disturb the future peace of the entire homestead.

There are two main events in Swaziland culture, the Incwala in December and the Umhlanga in late August / early September. The Incwala is the more important of the two and most Swazi will converge at the Royal Kraal at Ludzidzini where they are joined by the king for weeks of dancing to celebrate 'first fruits'. The Umhlanga is the second most important cultural ceremony where uncommitted girls pay homage to the king and queen mother. Other customs include the traditional and vigorous sibhaca dance (below).


Swaziland Culture

Swaziland Culture

Swaziland Culture

Swaziland Culture



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Swaziland Culture This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Swaziland Culture

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Sibhaca DanceIn traditional Swaziland culture, children are not recognised as beings until they are three months old being described as 'things' with no names nor any physical contact with men. After three months they are acknowledged as a person and are normally carried in a sling on their mother's back, not being weaned until they are two or three years of age. This video documentary explores daily life, customs and Swaziland culture in more detail and provides a useful insight into living in Swaziland today, where, although life is adapting to the demands of the twenty-first century, traditional culture remains firmly embedded in the Swaziland way of life.


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