Shopping in Swaziland

Posted on Aug 31, 2015

Shopping in Swaziland

From previous trips we had lovely memories of Swaziland; friendly people, beautiful nature and great souvenirs. In fact most of the souvenirs we have at home did come from Swaziland. So when we returned to South Africa we all took the opportunity to visit Swaziland once again.

We booked five nights so that we could really relax and take in the sweet Swazi landscape, and of course have time to visit the craft centres and buy souvenirs. There are some pretty amazing women empowerment projects in Swaziland that have over the years trained and organised women to create the most beautiful and high quality products, ranging from batik, weaved products from wool or cotton, weaved product from grass, candles and many more. We were staying in rural Swaziland in a large house on the Rosecraft farm close to the Ezulwini valley. Rosecraft is a craft centre where 36 women work to create beautiful scarfs, blankets and more from the raw white unrefined wool all the way to the finished product. We got a tour of the ‘factory’ and we were incredibly impressed by how skilful these women are and the quality of the products they make, with the most basic and ‘fit for rural Africa’ machinery. One of the other days we visited Swazi Candles, a candle making craft centre where they make no ordinary candles! They use a specific folding technique that makes beautiful patterns of colour that they then slice and melt in a way that it becomes a repeating pattern. And as if that isn’t enough, they also make safari animals in many colour patterns, big, small, you name it. It really is something special. We also had a look into the workshop and the kids loved seeing how the candles were made and were each gifted an animal specially made for them, to their choice. They were so happy! We also visited Gone Rural another women empowerment craft centre where they sell tablecloths, placemats and other things all made from grass.

Besides shopping and visiting local craft centres, we also spent a lot of time in our spacious and well appointed house in the hills. We enjoyed the gorgeous and extensive view of the valley. The kids were having the time of their life playing with the abundance of toys available, jumping on the trampoline and playing with the animals. They quickly befriended the staff and they both went on their own adventures with them. We enjoyed the scenic roads we drove, the friendly waiving people and kids along the roads.

Swaziland is known for its traditional festivals and one of them, the Reed Dance festival, is held end of August or early September, depending on the exact position of the moon and the stars. The Reed Dance festival is a big festival where thousands of girls gather to sing and dance for the queen & king. We hoped that we would be able to experience this, but it turned out we would just miss it. We only saw the arrival of the girls, who arrive in truckloads full, singing their tribe songs. Witnessing this, to feel their anticipation and joy, was already a treat for us. As we were unable to see the Reed Dance we decided to visit the Matanga cultural village and see the traditional Swazi dances and learn about the life in a local village. At first we didn’t think much of it, but we were impressed when they started singing songs of prayer, that was beautiful and the devotion and love they feel for God (or what they believe in) is visible and palpable. And the village tour gave a lot of clarity around the structure of society and of the homesteads we had seen all over Swaziland, which is so different from ours. Very interesting! We hadn’t thought we would enjoy it this much!

So we enjoyed Swaziland very much this second time we visited, and we will be back again!

(And yes, we left with a lot of souvenirs ;D)