Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cultural problem exists in Swaziland which hinders development

I once said that Swaziland is a nation full of children. This may sound uncharitable but when you have lived there for three years you begin to see some patterns. Swazis are extremely traditional in a patriarchal sense. Those in positions of power whether it is the principal of a school or the king try to keep those dependent on them in a state of ignorance. There is a serious lack of social responsibility at all levels. This is evident for example in the way people drive. There was a case when I was living there of a combi (minibus) taxi driver who overtook a lorry as another vehicle was approaching the other way. The driver jumped out of the taxi to save his own life. Immediately afterwards, his taxi crashed into a bus-stop killing several people who were waiting there as well as several of his passengers.

I have seen with my own eyes coaches overtaking on blind bends. When a new bypass was being built around the city of Mbabane, I saw two earth-moving trucks racing each other along a two-way road. When I stopped at the works office to complain, nothing was done about it. Workers at Waterford school building a new building took bricks from a stack of two piles of bricks in such a way that a tall wall of bricks was left about 3 metres tall, threatening to topple over at any moment and kill or seriously injure the workers.

I have seen women in Mbabane who only wanted to sell goods on the street to make a living being beaten by police with batons and sprayed with tear gas. My abiding sense about how poor people are treated in Swaziland is one of anger - it makes me spitting mad. Those with any power over others tend to use it to further their own agenda. It makes progress in Swaziland very very difficult.

This is why I think that I can make a difference by giving even one young person the chance to go to university and get a decent job, be able to support his family and perhaps come back to Swaziland once he is qualified to make a difference.