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date: 21 January 2020

Swaziland locked

  • Gregory F. Barz


Country in southern Africa located between Mozambique and South Africa. It has an area of 17,400 km² and a population of 985,000. British colonial rule established Swaziland as a protectorate in 1903 and independence was achieved in 1968. The population is 84% Swazi and 10% Zulu, and the kingdom's official languages are English and siSwati. Both the siSwati- and Zulu-speaking peoples of Swaziland belong to the Nguni group of Bantu language speakers and speak a tonal language with clicks adopted from neighbouring San and Khoikhoi peoples. Traditional culture is maintained in the country and annual ceremonies are performed and preserved at a national level. Music in Swaziland is largely homogeneous; Swazi vocal music is distinctive but bears a resemblance to Zulu choral singing (Rycroft, 1982, p.315).

Music is an integral part of everyday Swazi and Zulu life. Songs are often specific to age-groups or to varying functions, occasions or activities. Swazi songs are frequently instructional, functional or directional (when incorporated into dancing); they may also communicate Swazi mores or collective or individual opinions. Songs are often a permissible forum for the criticism of authority. Women tend to sing in chest voice in their lower ranges, adopting a slow ‘diaphragm vibrato’ (ibid., 322). A male choral style known as ...

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