Rural Swaziland as Nila Leigh knows it: (background information)

Swaziland is located in South Africa, Africa (very bottom portion of Africa). Swaziland is south of the equator and has rivers and lakes around the area but no ocean is touching it. Swaziland is ruled by the king: Mswati III. There are two languages spoken in Swaziland: English and siSwati. Though the English language is close to ours, there is a noticeable accent present.

Their rural school is very different than in the states. Boys and girls both have their heads shaven throughout their schooling (after schooling is completed, their hair is grown because they are now considered "grown-up"). No bus system is available and the children must walk to school. The classes are large and hold various grade levels. The school is located in the bush (basically as the name states-an area cleared only for a few buildings and the surrounding area is covered in shrubbery). Very few, if any schools in the rural areas have electricity or running water.

Homes are constructed of mud, stone, sticks, straw, or cement block and their roofs are made of tin or straw. It is common for families to practice polygamy and the "whole family" may live in a group setting called a homestead.

The children are required to help out in many tasks. Boys help with the cattle and those similar chores, while the girls wash clothes, get water, and take care of the babies. In the children's free time, they make handmade toys: boys create handmade cars and girls create handmade jump ropes. Girls wear skirts or dresses and boys wear shorts.

The Swaziland people eat mostly corn, but they may also eat crocodile, warthog, worms, or ostrich.



Leigh, N. 1993 Learning to Swim in Swaziland A child's-eye view of a southern African country. Scholastic, Inc.


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