Exploring Eswatini: Culture & Traditions Guide

Exploring Eswatini: Culture & Traditions Guide

Exploring Eswatini: Culture & Traditions Guide


Eswatini, officially known as the Kingdom of Eswatini, is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. Bordering South Africa to the west and Mozambique to the east, Eswatini is a destination that offers a rich cultural heritage and breathtaking landscapes. This travel guide will introduce you to the captivating culture and traditions of this remarkable country.

Language and Religion

The official languages of Eswatini are Swazi and English. Swazi, also known as SiSwati, is the indigenous language and is spoken by the majority of the population. English is widely understood and spoken, particularly in urban areas and tourist destinations.

Eswatini is known for its strong cultural heritage and traditional beliefs. The majority of the population practices Christianity, with various denominations represented. However, ancestral worship and traditional beliefs also play a significant role in the lives of many Swazi people.

Traditional Clothing

The traditional clothing of Eswatini reflects the vibrant culture and customs of the Swazi people. Women often wear a wraparound cloth called a "lihiya" or "emahiya," paired with a colorful beaded necklace and bracelets. Men usually wear a loincloth called a "siSwasho" or "umncwasho," along with a beaded necklace and anklets.

During special occasions and ceremonies, both men and women wear embellished attire with intricate beadwork and designs that hold symbolic meaning within the community.

Dances and Music

Dance and music are an integral part of Swazi culture, with traditional performances showcasing the country's heritage. The "Sibhaca" is a traditional dance that originated from warrior traditions, characterized by intense foot-stomping, rhythmic chanting, and spirited movements.

Traditional Swazi music is primarily vocal, accompanied by instruments like the "Sitolotolo" (a traditional flute) and various drums. The rhythm and melodies of Swazi music evoke a sense of joy and celebration, often reflecting important events or narratives.

Cultural Festivals

Eswatini hosts several vibrant cultural festivals throughout the year that provide an immersive experience into Swazi traditions. The "Reed Dance," also known as the Umhlanga Festival, is a significant event held in late August or early September. It involves thousands of young Swazi women gathering reeds and delivering them to the Queen Mother, symbolizing their loyalty and preserving their chastity.

The "Incwala" or "Kingship Ceremony" is another prominent festival celebrated during the summer solstice. It is a sacred and complex ceremony that showcases the spiritual beliefs and rituals of the Swazi people and is considered a crucial event in maintaining the wellbeing and prosperity of the Kingdom.


Swazi cuisine combines traditional African flavors with influences from neighboring countries. Staple foods include maize, sorghum, and beans. One of the signature dishes of Eswatini is "Sishwala," a thick porridge made from maize meal, often served with meat and vegetables. "Emasi" is another popular dish, consisting of sour milk with a tangy taste.

For those seeking adventure, be sure to try "Biltong," a dried meat snack, or "Sidvudvu," which are fried caterpillars and considered a delicacy by the Swazi people. Visitors can also treat themselves to various fruit juices made from fresh fruits like mangoes, guavas, and pineapples.

Outdoor Adventures

Eswatini's breathtaking landscapes offer ample opportunities for outdoor adventures. The Malolotja Nature Reserve is a paradise for hikers and nature enthusiasts, offering stunning views of rolling hills, waterfalls, and diverse flora and fauna. Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary provides the chance to spot wildlife such as zebra, impala, and wildebeest, as well as offers opportunities for horseback safaris.

Nature lovers can also explore the awe-inspiring Ezulwini Valley, known as the "Valley of Heaven." Surrounded by beautiful mountains, this picturesque valley offers hiking, bird-watching, and guided tours to traditional craft markets and cultural villages.

Experience Eswatini's Cultural Riches

Eswatini's culture and traditions are an integral part of its identity that continues to thrive amidst modern influences. By immersing yourself in the diverse customs, dances, festivals, and culinary delights, you'll gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for this remarkable Kingdom in Southern Africa.