And Next, Final Exams : Boy, 18, Becomes King of Swaziland in Ancient Rite

Associated Press

In African rituals older than recorded history and with President Reagan’s daughter Maureen looking on, an 18-year-old schoolboy was installed today as King Mswati III of Swaziland, taking on the task of bringing peace and prosperity to his nation.

After a day of ceremonies secret to all but a few advisers, the new king made his first brief public appearance in a royal cattle pen, clad in beads and animal skins, carrying a cowhide shield and wearing red and white feathers in his hair.

He said nothing but smiled and waved shyly to the invited representatives of more than 30 nations.

It was the end of nearly three years of preparations for Crown Prince Makhosetive to succeed his father, King Sobhuza II, who ruled Swaziland for 60 years and was the world’s longest-reigning monarch when he died in 1982 at 83.


The prince came home from Sherborne, an exclusive English boarding school where he was known as “Mac,” to undergo the rites. Sherborne headmaster Ralph Mowat, who came here for the coronation, said the new king will take his final examinations in June.

About 20,000 Swazis in this nation of 600,000 crowded into several cattle pens built of tree limbs at Lusaseni, a new royal village in Ezulwini (Heaven) Valley outside the town of Mbabane.

Many men were dressed like the king. Most women wore traditional red cloth wrappings, but some wore beaded miniskirts and went topless--another traditional Swazi outfit.

For many Swazis, King Mswati III personifies their hopes for national reconciliation and an end to the power struggles that followed Sobhuza’s death.


The infighting ousted Dzeliwe, Sobhuza’s senior widow, as queen regent and interim national leader, and replaced her with Queen Ntombi, mother of the new king.

Mswati, chosen to rule by a council of elders, was among nearly 70 sons and 20 daughters Sobhuza had by about 50 wives. The teenager, known for his love of soccer and war movies, will assume the sacred title of the Lion, the Bull, the Inexplicable, and Guardian of the Shield.