Behold the only monarch I have ever met...King Goodwill Zwelethini of Zululand, (in the traditional symbol of Zulu royalty, leopard, pictured next to King Mswati II of Swaziland)Believe me, the pomp and ceremony and shananigans are no less -in fact probably at least equal albeit in a totally different style-to those accorde British Royalty!
So what brought this post on? Nostalgia I guess. Have just returned from Swaziland in the 60's, by way of fine cinematography and acting in Wah-Wah, Richard E Grant's powerful portrayal of his own childhood in the final moments of British rule in Swaziland. We have a philandering bitch of a mother, desperate alcoholic father, confused boy, the "club" as the centre of society in all British outposts, the ever-pleasing servants, a flurry caused by a royal visit in aid of the transition to Swazi Independence (aside from the royal visit, a non-event for the expat community!) and a lot of French spoken in the poshest of English accents which doesn't make it sound like swearing at all- more like jolly good adjectives, my dear fellow!
I visited Swaziland on many occassions since the 60's,and its beautiful rolling hills, friendly people, social decadence and bubble-like economy jumped straight to the fore of my memory. In my twenties, Iconducted an audit of a large mill in the capital Mbabane, and stayed two weeks at the Royal Swazi Spa which by this time had lost its lustre as "Top Naughty" after new casinos in the erstwhile Black Homelands, like Sun City, in South Africa lured its decadent clientele and prostitutes away. It had returned to being a sleepy hollow, and everyone I met had the name Dlamini (descendant of the King). Hardly surprising since King Mswati annually holds a virgin parade to pick a new bride, and currently sports 21, which is still 59 shy of his father, King Sobuzo,the longest reigning monarch, who had 81 wives at the time of his death.
So, obviously when in Rome, do as the Romans do, and what a jolly fine time was had by all those expat Britons in them good old days!
Now, in stark contrast, Ten Canoes, (see link as per yesterday's blog), paints a very very very different picture. A tale about family, community, honour, harmony and living by what was unwritten but widely understood laws for civil harmony. Though shalt not covet they neighbour's wife! What a fantastic piece of work and a wonderful opportunity for us to get a glimpse into an ancient culture, its values and tradition of upholding them to this day, through story-telling. There should be more of it...LOTS MORE!
I would be a terrible film critic, and I am not trying to be that...but for what its worth, I loved both these movies that dealt with the history and cultures of both my former home in Southern Africa, as well as my new home Australia.
I think I will definitely be in the dreamtime tonight...Go see it.