King Celebrates Birthday by Renaming Country

Swaziland is now 'eSwatini'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2018 3:03 AM CDT
Swaziland's King Mswati III addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 20, 2017, at United Nations headquarters.   (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
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(Newser) – As the absolute monarch of Swaziland, King Mswati III's powers include the ability to rename his country, and he proceeded to do so Thursday, announcing that it is now called the Kingdom of eSwatini. The new name, like the old one, means "land of the Swazis," reports Reuters. The kingdom is celebrating both its 50th anniversary of independence from the British this year, and the king, who was born a few months before independence, told a crowd gathered for a Jubilee Day celebration of his 50th birthday Thursday that the kingdom was reverting to the name it had before it was colonized.

He said the name had caused confusion with another landlocked, mountainous state. "Whenever we go abroad, people refer to us as Switzerland," he claimed. The king, who is Africa's last absolute monarch and has 15 wives, started referring to the Kingdom of eSwatini a few years ago and used it in an address to the United Nations General Assembly in 2017. The country is now expected to update its currency, constitution, and internet domain names, among other things, and the change has angered those who feel the king should concentrate on the struggling economy instead, the BBC reports. (Read more Swaziland stories.)

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