A Taste of Swaziland

May 20, 2012

Our past two days have been filled with a taste of Swaziland both literally and figuratively. As mentioned yesterday, we hiked down a mountain to see the Bushman paintings. Bushman paintings were created over 4000 years ago, preserved under the shelter of cave rocks. The stories of the paintings and their interpretations were shared with us by our guide. The guides for this tour live in the rural community surrounding the mountain and are trained by the local council to protect and share the history of the Bushman.

Today we traveled through the area of Ezulwini valley. The rural area was mixed with hills and flat plains, covered by miles of greenery. Our first stop was at the Swaziland Cultural Center. The center depicted traditional Swaziland homestead much like our Plymouth Plantation at home depicts the lives of pilgrims, although it was revealed to us that 12% of Swazis continue to live in these types of communities and by customary traditions. We were greeted by Swazis dressed in traditional garb. The women wore beautiful skirts made of authentic Swazi fabric; a thinner fabric was wrapped over their torsos as shirts. The men wore large goat skins as one would a loin cloth. Accompanied by drummers, the young men and women shared a traditional welcoming dance with us, filled with impressive high kicks and melodic singing. The technique in this traditional dance was similar to the African roots of the Stepping seen used in our own culture by Black American sororities and fraternities in US colleges.

We ended our day with a literal taste of Swaziland at the eDladleni restaurant. We were greeted by the waiter who offered our party of ten the family style dinner and we accepted. The restaurant did not disappoint, plate after plate was filed in to our amazement; filled with spinach, stewed fish, local sweet potatoes, a Bantu green (like a turnip green), peanut chicken, and Pap, a traditional cornmeal staple of the Swazi diet. After our dinner we were greeted by the restaurant owner, Delores, who continued to feed our minds with her knowledge of indigenous Bantu plants, foods and traditions.

The last few days have been filled with Swazi culture and tomorrow the introduction to nursing in Swaziland will begin. Together with our pharmacy colleagues we will be split into groups, some will visit the local hospital and others will witness care in the community.

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