24 April 2011
Swaziland's monarchy-linked rap concert flops
MBABANE — US rapper Jadakiss gave a concert linked to the embattled royal family early today (24 April 2011), performing in a nearly empty hall in Swaziland's main city Manzini following an opposition boycott call.
The event, billed as a fundraiser for a charity bearing the name of the son of King Mswati III, Lindani, was supposed to start at 6:00 pm Saturday.
But Jadakiss finally took to the stage around 1:00 am Sunday, giving an "excellent" performance to a small audience of under 500 people, including several princes and princesses, according to Mphikhelele Msibi, a reporter of the state-run Observer newspaper.
VIP tickets for the Jadakiss show were sold for 100 dollars (69 euros), the equivalent of a month's salary for many workers in this impoverished African nation.
The banned Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO), who had called on young people to shun the "royal" event, hailed the poor turnout as a success.
Several big name South African acts who had been billed to perform -including DJ Tira and Jozi, did not travel to Swaziland for the concert.
Neighbouring South Africa's ruling ANC party's Youth League also called for a boycott of the event, saying it is a "celebration of the suffering and starvation of the people of Swaziland by the king, his friends and family".
"We have no problem with Jadakiss personally we have a problem with taxpayers' money being used to organise activities of this kind," SWAYOCO's national organiser Mxolisi Nghamphalala told AFP, adding: "Jadakiss performed and he got his money."
But he dismissed the concert as "a publicity stunt by the royal family," saying: "It is about winning the hearts and minds of the Swazi youth. Bear in mind the timing -- it comes immediately after April 12th."
On that date Swazi police stopped anti-government protests from going ahead by detaining, beating and tear-gassing demonstrators.
Swaziland's trade unions have embarked on a campaign of mass action demanding that the government step down and that multi-party democracy be introduced in sub-Saharan Africa's last kingdom.
King Mswati III, at 43 Africa's last absolute monarch with a fortune estimated at $100 million by Forbes magazine, has ruled tiny Swaziland for 18 years.
The landlocked country wedged between Mozambique and South Africa is fast running out of money to pay for the day-to-day running of state, including civil servants' salaries.
The economy depends almost entirely on South Africa, which finances most of the Swazi government's income through a regional customs union that sees Pretoria lavish money on its smaller neighbours.
Jadakiss is no stranger to controversy. He attracted criticism in 2004 when the lyrics of his biggest hit "Why?" expressed a belief that former US president George W Bush coordinated the September 11th attacks.