Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
This work focuses on the meaning and role of the royal Easter ritual in post-colonial Swaziland (1968-1992). I pay special attention to the relationship between the royal Easter ritual and political actions undertaken by many Swazi urban commoners who oppose the current absolute rule of the monarchy in modern Swazi society.
The thesis of this study is two-fold. First, I interpret the royal Easter ritual as an invented tradition which reinforces the continuing conflict between the monarchy and many urban commoners in post-colonial Swaziland. The second contention is that this new royal tradition has been consistently resisted by most mission Christians through symbolic, covert social actions which include non-participation in the ceremony, and polemical discourses. I argue that this covert contestation of the new royal tradition by most mission Christians is concurrent with other subtle as well as overt political actions pursued by many urban commoners who are opposed to the absolute rule of the monarchy in post-colonial Swaziland.
This work makes a significant contribution to scholarship on the role of religion and royal rituals in Swazi society. In contrast to existing works on the royal Easter ritual which over-emphasize the integrative role of the ritual, this study demonstrates the inadvertent, dysfunctional role of this ritual in exacerbating the polarization between the monarchy and many urban commoners in contemporary Swazi society.
In addition, this work constitutes a peculiar, yet familiar case study which reflects the key themes in current anthropological and interdisciplinary studies of ritual and religion, namely: divine kingship, the global process of the invention of tradition, resistance to political domination through religious symbols, and the politics of mission churches.
Ndlovu, Hebron Luhlanya, "The Royal Easter Ritual and Political Actions in Swaziland" (1993). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 3171.