Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Geography & Environmental Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Bruce Young

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Swaziland is in many ways a unique country on the African scene. The last African state to receive political independence from colonial Britain (in September, 1968), it has since been politically and socially dominated by the considerable personage of the world’s longest reigning Monarch, His Majesty King Sobhuza II. The King, with absolute sway in the traditional sphere, is also proving a considerable binding force for a Nation being atomised by the forces of westernization. The Nation, a single tribe, is a relatively small one of approximately 520,000 population in a country of just over 6400 square miles.

Process is, of course, no respector of scale and as has been pointed out on a number of occasions, Swaziland duplicates many of the phenomena and dynamics of Independent Africa at large. For the student its size becomes a distinct advantage since it represents a compact laboratory which encapsulates much of the African past and present.

Swaziland has been my periodic home for the last twelve years. I was fortunate to be there during the ‘heady’ days of independence in 1968 and to experience at first hand the dissolution of many of the pernicious racial barriers which had been allowed to penetrate from neighbouring South Africa during the colonial period. In the years since one has been made aware of the signs of increasing prosperity and material welfare and a ‘booming economy.’

In recent years, as knowledge of the country has increased and a more perceptive eye hopefully gained, it has become increasingly obvious that the greater prosperity is the preserve of a privileged few, that the economy is controlled by forces of multi-national capital way beyond Swazi reach and that deep internal and social contradictions are developing in the country. In addition, regional inequalities in health and wealth have if anything intensified and what was once called the colonial legacy—its distinctive human landscape—is still very much present.

In African studies as a whole there has been a growing awareness over the last decade that much of Africa is de facto still colonial; at least still tending to serve the purposes of the former European colonial power.

A desire to uncover the nature and implications of these purposes in Swaziland has led to a growing interest in the Swazi past. This interest has been fuelled by the geographer’s appraisal that the human landscape bears the visible imprint of these purposes as they were worked out during the colonial period. It is within this interest area that the objectives of this thesis were framed.

Research for this thesis was undertaken during leave of absence from Wilfrid Laurier University from August 1977 to January 1978. The time was evenly divided between Britain, where research was primarily archival, and Swaziland, where archival research was coloured by first hand experience and by conversation with both black and white within the country.

Convocation Year


Included in

Geography Commons