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t Atmospheric early morning mist hanging above a lake in Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary


Africa’s only absolute monarchy, eSwatini is home to the Swazi Kingdom, which became a British protectorate in 1906, but retains a cohesive identity rare in more multi-ethnic societies. The kingdom’s dominant 20th-century personage was Sobhuza II, who ascended the throne as a baby in 1899, and reigned for almost 83 years. Following independence in 1968, Sobhuza II scrapped the Westminster-style political system bequeathed by the British in favour of a traditional Swazi constitution that placed absolute power in the monarchy and outlawed meaningful opposition. Calls for reform under Sobhuza’s successor Mswati III resulted in a 2008 constitution that allows for a parliament comprising 55 elected members and 10 nominated by the king, who also selects the cabinet and prime minister. The status of political parties remains ambiguous, however, and to all intents and purposes their participation in politics is illegal. In 2018, Mswati III changed the kingdom’s name from Swaziland to the more correct eSwatini.

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