Welcome To Swaziland … Or Is It eSwatini?

May 11, 2018

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other word would smell as sweet. That’s a line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, where Juliet tries to convince Romeo that a name doesn’t mean anything.

Well, for King Mswati III of Swaziland, a name means a lot. He’s tired of people confusing Swaziland with Switzerland—they’re different countries! That would be quite frustrating, don’t you agree? But there’s another reason why King Mswati wants to change his country’s name from Swaziland to eSwatini: While other African countries changed their names after gaining independence from the British (Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, Nyasaland became Malawi, and Bechuanaland became Botswana), Swaziland didn’t. On the 50th anniversary of independence, King Mswati announced that Swaziland would now be called “Kingdom of eSwatini,” a name the king said was used before it was colonized. Great—now with a new name, the people of eSwatini are hoping that King Mswati will concentrate more on things like poverty and health issues that have plagued the country.

Can you name any other countries that have changed their names? Why do you think some countries rename themselves?