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
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
In 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.