August 27, 2009
Swaziland: The King and the Web
BY Joe Rubin
Swaziland is a country of haves and have-nots. King Mswati III (the country's absolute monarch) has 13 wives, 20 armored Mercedes and his net worth is estimated at more than $200 million.
Meanwhile, his subjects are among the poorest in the world (more than 60 percent of Swazis earns less than $1.25 per day) and plagued by a huge public health crisis. The tiny southern African nation has the world's highest per capita rate of HIV/AIDS.
Swaziland is also not particularly tolerant of dissent. Anti-sedition laws and self-censorship make criticism of the king rare. So, we wondered, what happens when the Twitter revolution comes to town?
Last month, the latest in a series of Africa-focused "BarCamp" conferences, aimed at encouraging the proliferation of mobile and web technologies, was hosted in Swaziland. iWitness spoke over webcam with two of the participants -- a self-described geek who flew in from Los Angeles and a Swazi web and music entrepreneur -- to get their take.