It was published every Wednesday in the early 1960s at a time when Swaziland was still a ‘territory’ of its colonial ruler, Britain.
I saw some copies of the Swaziland Chronicle in the British Newspaper Library in London last year. I’d never heard of it before and no one I have spoken to since can tell me anything about it.
The first edition of the newspaper, which had 16 pages, was published on 4 May 1960 and the paper believed itself to be the ‘first wholly Swaziland-owned paper ever to be published in the territory.’
In an article in the first edition headed ‘We Make Our Bow’, the paper demonstrated that it was a small affair. It told its readers,
‘We are not in a position to maintain a staff of experts, nor do we think it necessary for there are in the Territory plenty of enthusiastic amateurs who know their subject quite well enough to write competently about it, and who would enjoy doing so.One person who took the newspaper up on the offer called himself ‘Small Man’. He reported on the Mbabane Rugby Club, which had just had its first match. ‘There was a silver collection among the crowd,’ Small Man notes.
‘To these people, be they fishermen, photographers, bird-watchers or stamp collectors, gardeners or canasta fiends, the CHRONICLE throws open its columns.
‘If a housewife has a brainwave about canning fruit, or a literary type wants to publish his favourite quotation, or anyone else would like to share ideas and interests, we shall be glad to hear about it.’
He obviously didn’t think he was getting his money’s worth. ‘But if we are going to pay willingly we are justified in expecting something worthwhile from the players. They owe it to the paying public to get fit,’ he moans.
The main story of the first edition was about a new sugar factory opening at Mhlume, but the newspaper was not really interested in hard news. This story about Sir John Maud and Lady Maud who were on a short visit to Swaziland and at the Residency was much more typical. The Chronicle reported that in a ‘clever, yet short speech, Sir John had the guests in fits of laughter. It is so nice to be able to meet people like Sir John and Lady Maud and such a pity that we see so little of them.’
The British Newspaper Library’s collection of the Swaziland Chronicle ends on 22 November 1961. By this time the paper was only publishing four pages a week. Maybe it went out of business. If anyone knows anything about the Chronicle I’d be interested to hear.