The Swaziland princes insulted women, showed disrespect to their elders and ranted in a hotel bar.
Nikiwe Bikitsha, writing in the Mail and Guardian (26 August 2011), tells how she and a group of journalists were in Swaziland on a press trip. Word got through to them that a Swazi Prince (she spears his blushes by not naming him) was seeking an audience with one of the women journalists who had taken his fancy.
Fearing the woman would not be safe alone with the prince, the women insisted he should meet her in a public place – The Royal Swazi Hotel.
Bikitsha takes up the story. ‘Later that evening, the prince descended on the hotel with an entourage of his brothers and cousins. We were asked to join the princelings in a semi-private lounge.
‘We walked into a roomful of young men, all bearing a striking resemblance to King Mswati III. It was difficult to tell them apart. They were accompanied by so many minders and protocol staff that they took up half the room. Spotting the object of his affection, the prince gave her an appreciative, even leering, once-over and greeted her by telling: ‘Yo!’
‘It was stunningly rude and the poor girl blushed. I tried to dismiss this initial faux pas as the folly of youth. Perhaps I was too much of a fuddy-duddy to appreciate how young people interact, but a part of me believed that a young man of his upbringing might be more refined and well mannered. And it was all downhill from there.’
The princes ordered gallons of whisky ‘which they decanted into glass pitchers and gulped down like thirsty desert nomads.’
She goes on, ‘The princes were in their early 20s, but would routinely snap their fingers at their royal escorts and minders, who were much older than them, when they needed attention. They might have been expected to be more respectful towards their elders, even if the elders were the help.’
One of the journalists remarked to the prince, ‘Now we know how our R2.4 billion is being spent’; referring to the loan South Africa is to make to bail Swaziland out of its economic mess.
Bikitsha reports there ‘wasn’t a hint of mortification from the prince. He merely shouted in his cocky fashion, “Well, R2.4 billion is nothing bro, nothing! There’ll be plenty more where that came from”.
‘So tasteless and shocking was this declaration that even the most parched among us suddenly found excuses to leave the room.’
Bikitsha concludes, ‘Was this just the ranting of a spoilt, uncouth and drunken brat desperate to make an impression in a room full of women, or did it reflect the attitude with which the South African bailout is viewed, as a piggy bank for a rancid king and his family?
‘To help a country in need is one thing, but to pay the drinks bill of a group of obnoxious children is quite another.’
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