News / Africa

Swaziland Festival Held Despite Boycott Call

MBABANE, Swaziland - Swaziland exiles called for a boycott of the 6th annual Bushfire festival this weekend to protest the kingdom's government policies. But the boycott did not appear to slow the three-day musical and cultural event.


Thousands of people happily dance on the grass to the tune of a local Swazi band, with few appearing to worry about the boycott call that put Swaziland's Bushfire Festival in the middle of controversy. 

 

For the second year, the Swaziland Solidarity Network, an association of Swazi people living in South Africa, has targeted the festival to try to put pressure on the kingdom's government.  

 

Network spokesperson Lucky Lukhele said, "It is mainly to show some support that not everything is normal as it is publicly portrayed in Swaziland."


Swaziland is one of the poorest countries in the world, and has one of the world's highest rate of HIV/AIDS, with one Swazi out of four HIV positive. The country's monarch, King Mswati III, is often criticized for leading a luxurious life, in stark contrast with most of his people.  He has come under international criticism for pursuing his personal interests at the expense of his country.

 

Recent violent crackdowns on opposition protests have increased social tension.  

 

The opposition Network's Lukhele explains the Bushfire festival is sponsored by Swazi telecommunications company MTN and was not targeted randomly.

"The Swazi government owns 51 percent now of the MTN Swaziland, and MTN Swaziland is a sponsor.  So effectively, the king is sponsoring this thing," he said. 


But according to Bushfire director Jiggs Thorne, the exile network is aiming at the wrong target, and boycotting the festival would do more harm than good for the Swazi people.

"Since our inception, we have been very keen to make a difference, through our Call to Action campaign.  We facilitate this gathering of people, and exchange of ideas, with a very clear conscience," he said. 


He says the festival gives artists and performers a platform for diversity of cultural expression and creates opportunities for open debate.


In response to the boycott effort, the festival has opened "The Barn," a place where politics and social issues are discussed during the three days.


Only a handful of artists honored the boycott, but they include the popular singers Zahara and Lira.  As for those artists who came, especially international singers, some did not know about the boycott. 


Swazi singer Bholoja knew about it, but says he feels it was uncalled for, because the festival has a lot of charity projects.

"I think it is very unfair what is happening because Bushfire is not about only having fun, taking ourselves out there, but there is a mission behind it. It is serving people who are in need, orphans.  Bushfire provides accommodation, means, futures for the children," he said.

About 20,000 people attend the Bushfire Festival each year and the call for a boycott has not deterred people from coming.  

You May Like

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid