Seniour Prince, Logcogco, was once quoted saying that Swazis are very jealous people. They are not known for supporting each other. He said these words in an interview with a journalist from the Swazi Observer.
The particular context within which he was observing Swazis was with regard to politics. The Prince had the luxury of being in charge of the Constitutional Review Commission, which for a number of years went around the country collecting people’s political views.
That alone qualifies him to be best placed to comment on Swazi people’s personalities. His words, quoted verbatim, were:
“If there was a commodity to sell in abundance, it is umhobholo or umona (jealousy).Our people are full of it and make one ashamed of being a Swazi.”
It is a cliché. It is in fact one of the things that most, if not all, Swazis often agree on. Swazis are a jealous people. This is one of the things that have kept them in economic and political disenfranchisement for so long.
This mentality, known as the crab mentality in other countries – for reasons that will become clear at the end of this note – can be noted in the manner in which some people have reacted to the forthcoming April 12 Swazi Uprising.
It is important that people understand where the feeling that this was an opportune time for mass demonstrations came from. Without a doubt the inspiration was from the dozen or more countries in the Arab world who decided that they had had enough of dictatorships.
Those countries had two things in common that observers regarded as the catalysts for the uprisings. The first was the long histories of dictatorship. There were instances where some rulers had been in power for over thirty years. Political and civil liberties were suppressed by most of these leaders and democracy was non-existent.
The second was the economic marginalisation of a majority of the population. With these two issues Swaziland was politically and economically a domino in line with the rest of these nations despite the fact that it was geographically far removed from the site of action.
It was inevitable that someone in Swaziland would imagine the possibility of a Tinkhundla free Swaziland via mass demonstrations. Having imagined it, it was easy for such an individual, or group, to then relay the message to the rest of the population.
That we came up with the initial plan does not make us heroes or celebrities. In days gone by, when cattle herders saw an impi (warriors) advancing, they simply made the battle call.
There was nothing heroic in doing that. And after the war had been fought, they resumed their cattle herding duties. The April 12 uprising was called because there was an urgent need for it, nothing more nothing less.
In fact Swaziland had a more urgent reason for rising against the government and creating a democracy. Swazi people have very little to lose nowadays. Even new born children can see that the economy is in tatters and that the situation will get worse soon.
Due to the fact that people do not spontaneously organize themselves, the Swazi uprising committee was therefore formed, practically comprising three people. And their mandate was to kick start the process which would see to it that all Swazis joined the movement.
It was further decided that due to the fact that the media is not only censored but in fact pro-monarchy, all forms of media that can reach the Swazi people should be used, hence the reliance on facebook.
Knowing Swazi people, the facebook group that was created had to state clearly that this group was unaffiliated. This was done deliberately to stop any group claiming to be behind it.
It was also to ensure that all independent thinkers felt free to join without feeling that a particular party or movement would dominate its direction. All political parties and civic organizations that were contacted and invited to take a leadership role have behaved very magnificently and they ought to be congratulated.
Thanks to them, the independence of the movement has remained. It is therefore extremely disheartening to read in newspaper reports that certain individuals ascribe the movement to a particular group or formation outside the country and feel sceptical about it.
This is what usually makes many activists despondent in Swaziland: the jealousy and individualism that has crept into Swazi society. Certain people have put their egos before the common good.
When they are not leading a particular movement they won’t support it. In fact they find reason to pee on it, bayichamele. A certain individual once ridiculed the uprising by claiming that it was purely facebook based and that no ground work was being done. He went on to call it an “April fool”. But why, Swazis?
What has happened to us as a nation? Are we so self-centred that our very freedom is being threatened by petty jealousies? This mentality needs to come to an end. Every Swazi, no matter his/ her affiliation, is invited to the Swazi uprising. Those who want to lead it must do that by sacrifice.
Suggestions on its direction are forever welcome, but not through public egoistic criticism. Let us, for once, prove prince Logcogco wrong. He was obviously laughing at us when he made the statement that Swazis are jealous. He has benefitted from our disunity since birth. We are but crabs in his family’s stew.
The crab story goes thus: A certain chef in one of the country’s restaurants was cooking crabs for a special group of guests. He had managed to get two buckets full of live crabs and had them in the kitchen while he was preparing to cook them.
His assistant soon noticed that only one of these buckets was open, and fearing that they would escape, he told his boss about it. The chef, not even bothering to look up said to him: “Don’t worry, those are Swazi crabs. Each time one of them tries to escape, the others pull him back.”