The king of Swaziland has changed the name of his country to the “Kingdom of eSwatini”. The change was to mark the 50th anniversary of independence — and to avoid confusion with Switzerland.
The monarch, King Mswati III made the announcement during a golden jubilee ceremony celebrating freedom from British colonial rule. He said the country’s new name was used by Swaziland before it was colonized.
Addressing a large crowd in a stadium in the city of Manzini, the king said: “African countries on getting independence reverted to their ancient names before they were colonized. So from now on the country will be officially be known as the Kingdom of eSwatini,” the AFP news agency reported.
The name “Swaziland”, the King said, had caused confusion. “Whenever we go abroad, people refer to us as Switzerland,” he added.
In recent years, the ruler has referred several times to the “Kingdom of eSwatini”, which means “land of the Swazis” in the local language.
He used it an address to the UN General Assembly in 2017 and at the state opening of the country’s parliament this year.
The name change was greeted with mixed emotions, with some saying the country had more pressing issues, such as poverty and health care.