The Times of Swaziland has such contempt for Swazi women that it thinks they can be traded through the readers’ letters column of the newspaper.
The latest example of this was published on Wednesday (26 January 2011). A reader, describing himself as a ‘true born again and God-fearing Christian,’ was touting for a wife.
Here’s part of the letter, ‘The person I am looking for must have the following: She must be 22-35 years, good looking, attractive, 5 or more years as a born again committed Christian, baptised with water and spirit-filled, God-fearing, honest, living a holy life, hate sin, loving, caring, trustworthy, supportive in ministry. Any lady who believes she can take up the challenge should not hesitate to send her information with confidence with recently full size picture to ....’
The man then gives a deadline of 5pm. 3 February 2011 for his aspiring wife to contact him. But rest assured, ‘those who will not make it their photos will be returned to them’.
Astonishing as this letter is, it is not the first time the Times, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, has turned pimp.
Last week (20 January 2011), it was at it again. This time the reader was ‘interested in meeting a single, respectful, loving, slender and caring woman from Swaziland aged between 53 and 63 years’. Applicants were told to send a full-length photo of themselves (no indication this time if the unsuccessful women would have it returned).
These kinds of ‘lonely hearts’ letters were exposed in October 2010, when a reader revealed that she had responded to a previous letter in the Times from a man looking for a wife. It turned out he wasn’t looking for a wife, he just wanted to collect photos of Swazi women. The Times was indignant that the man turned out not to be genuine, but what did it expect?
The editor of the Times doesn’t seem to think there’s anything wrong publishing such letters. Maybe it’s because in Swaziland women are commodities, the property of their fathers or husbands, and have no rights when it comes to relationships and marriages.
In Swaziland, for a man to request women to parade themselves in front of him to be chosen as a wife is the most natural thing. After all, King Mswati III, Swaziland’s king and sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, does it every year.