"Manzini, Swaziland" Manzini by mdfloyd322

Manzini Travel Guide: 7 reviews and 24 photos

I left for Swaziland in May of 1971, the day after I graduated from High School. My dad was going to work at Raleigh Fitkin Hospital in Manzini and I ended up working in the pharmacy sorting sample medicines that had been donated to the hospital by doctors around the world.

I can safely say that this trip changed my life in so many different ways, it's impossible to define them all.

It was the first time I'd even been a 'minority'. It was the first time I'd done any significant volunteer work. It was the first time I'd traveled so far and for so long. It was the first time I'd driven on the 'wrong' side of the road and it was the first time I'd had a car wreck...

Although I'd worked at a hospital in the US with my father, this was the first time I'd really been so proud of him and his chosen profession. I guess getting me away from all the distractions of high school, friends, etc. made me see him for what he was/is. Very dedicated, very proficient, very generous, and very, very caring.

The flight from Jan Smuts Airport in Johannesburg to Mbabane was in the one and only DC-3 I was privileged to fly in. As I boarded the flight from the rear I headed to my seat, 1B at the front. However, when I got there the seat contained a crate of chickens, softly clucking. I asked the flight attendant what to do. She said just take the seat behind it, 2B. I listened to the chickens the whole flight. It was a good introduction to the Dark Continent.

The summer was filled with adventures. We toured several southern African countries and spent a few days in the Krueger National Park in the RSA. We saw all of the 'big four' wild animals there.

I visited a leper colony and shook hands with a couple of the residents. I hadn't realized till my visit that leprosy isn't transmitable by physical contact.

One of the more interesting events was graduation at a witch doctor college. We drove to the middle of nowhere then took a very leaky dugout canoe across a river. It wasn't very deep and a young Swazi pulled us across. I wonder if he's
still alive; the water was infected with Bilharzia (Schistosomiasis). I wasn't sure if I was more afraid getting wet bailing out the canoe or it sinking.

It's hard to describe what happened at the graduation. It was very strange, very fascinating, and very evil. The new graduates came out after a night of drinking blood wine and were still quite intoxicated, it appeared. They danced around then came very close to us. I specifically remember one of them wearing a very white bra. The contrast of the bright white against her black skin was quite startling. It was also odd seeing a woman wearing a bra since most of the Swazis didn't bother.

After a short time one of the missionaries grabbed us and said we needed to leave. He was more cognizant of what was going on than I was apparently and was worried for our safety.

At some point during the summer , several of us on the mission managed to shoot a giant fruit bat with a pellet gun. I stopped a stray dog from raiding the trash can every morning and waking us up and I learned how to throw a boomerang.

During June we were invited to visit a kraal (village) where we were special guests. I watched them kill the goat by cutting its throat and allowing the blood to run into a large can...I think they made gravy from it.

As a special guest I was given the best part of the goat, its tongue. I don't know how I react to that honor today but then I couldn't stand the tought of the gray tongue sitting on my plate and couldn't eat a bite. I'm sure I insulted them but I'm afraid throwing up would have been in bad form too. What's an 18-year boy from Nebraska to do?

Flying back to London at the end of the trip was so beautiful. Although it was night, the entire continent appeared to be on fire. It was the end of the dry season and all the farmers were buring the fields in preparation for their spring planting.

It was all pretty amazing. I still love African art, crafts, food, and music.

  • Last visit to Manzini: Aug 1971
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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