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Tuesday, 12 February 2008


There is an interesting postscript to the report about the Swazi pastor and the widow who were caught by a newspaper ‘having sex’ under a wattle tree.

I wrote earlier about how the Swazi Observer invaded the privacy of the couple who were having a kiss and a cuddle in the shade. Despite the Observer’s accusation that they were ‘having sex’ they were in fact fully clothed throughout the whole incident.

Now, predictably the Observer has alerted the moral brigade to condemn the couple. In so doing the Observer has unintentionally given readers an insight to Swazi culture (at its worse).

First up to the mat in the Observer yesterday (Monday 11 February 2008) was someone described by the Observer as a ‘famous custodian and commentator on cultural values,’ Lindzeni Ndlangamandla.

Ndlangamandla ‘teaches Swazi values’ (the Observer’s words, not mine) on the government controlled radio station SBIS, Typically, for a ‘traditionalist’ she condemned the woman. The Observer reported her saying the widow should not have accepted the mourning gowns if she was not certain about her behaviour.

She went on, ‘to the best of my knowledge, a widow is not supposed to fall in love, nor look at a man in the eyes. She is not even expected to hold hands with a man’.

In traditional Swazi custom women have no rights of their own. They are treated as minors and effectively ‘owned’ by their men (usually their husbands or fathers). It would seem that even when their man has passed on a woman has no right to a life.

The second moraliser brought forward by the Observer was Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) National Director Nonhlanhla Dlamini.

The Observer reported her saying, ‘It shows that we have lost values as a nation because a widow is expected to respect herself. In this era of HIV and AIDS pandemic, it is worrying for such adults to be seen behaving in such a manner.’

This is a worrying statement from a leader of SWAGAA. Somebody ought to explain to her that you don’t get HIV from kissing.

In its report the Observer also repeated comments from the pastor’s church regarding the ‘unChristian-like’ behaviour he had indulged in. His church, it seems, is hell-bent on disciplining him.

There was one less extreme voice. A pastor at the Kingdom Church in Manzini said that thing about casting the first stone.

Good point pastor. I wonder how many journalists have had a bit of a kiss and a cuddle that they then went on to regret?

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