Tuesday, August 30, 2005

How Come Muslims only get 72? The King of Swaziland, Mswati III, has decided to take a wife. He has decided to take wife number 13. He has converted the traditional Reed Dance to be a sort of try out for the job. More than 50,000 topless virgins showed up to try out.

It’s good to be king.

And we think we have reality shows!

Paris Hilton did not attend.

M3 did his part to fit in. He showed up wearing only a loincloth. It was a leopard skin loincloth, however. (When he is wearing clothes, M3 is known for wearing military uniforms, like all petty tyrants, but his are very colorful, like red jackets and yellow pants with lots of braid and brass.

The job evidently pays well. Each wife of M3 gets her own palace and a BMW. That is not bad for a little sub-Sahara country next to South Africa and Mozambique. Especially since women in Swaziland cannot own property, get a bank loan or sign a contract in their own name.
Women will evidently get some rights in 2006, when the new constitution kicks in.

Swaziland has about a million people in it, including the 50k virgins. Not too many people live that well there. More than 80 percent of the people are engaged in subsistence farming. The country is plagued by deforestation, recurrent drought and soil erosion.

M3 is the only absolute monarch left in Africa. No one can reign him in. He inherited the job from his father, who suspended the country’s constitution and took over absolute power. He has a lavish lifestyle while two thirds of his subjects live in abject poverty. For example, he spent half a million dollars on a limousine. 40 percent of adults live with HIV, the only thing in which Swaziland leads the world. Life expectancy is about 35 years. That can cause abject poverty. Maize is the main food item and it is in short supply. More than one fourth of the population needed emergency food help last year to avoid starvation. You would never guess it, but the government controls the price of maize. You might want to take note of that, Hawaii, as you set artificial limits on the retail price of gasoline. It never works for long.

Before the Reed Dance became a reality show with a one man audience, it was meant to celebrate womanhood and virginity. Virgins have been taking a vow of chastity to prevent Aids and there is a law against sex with virgins. M3 has repealed the ban. I think we know why.
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