The king of Swaziland, one of the world’s few absolute monarchs, announced on Thursday that his country had changed its name to eSwatini to mark 50 years since independence from British rule.
Meaning “place of the Swazi”, eSwatini is the Swazi language name for the tiny nation landlocked between South Africa and Mozambique.
… The name Swaziland angers some citizens as it is a mix of Swazi and English.
According to the World Bank, per capita income in eSwatini has been in decline since peaking at just over $4,000 in 2014. One reason for this name change might be King Mswati’s search for legitimacy via other means.
At the same time, I suspect that we will see a lot more changes like this across the Continent over the next several years (even during good economic times). It is the case that more and more African states are finally finding their footing domestically. And as that happens, the African middle class will demand for changes in place names to reflect local cultural tastes and interpretations of history. For example, Lake Victoria will some day become Nam Lolwe, or Nyanza (the Sukuma name for the lake). It was not that long ago that Kenya’s Lake Turkana was named Lake Rudolph (after a crown prince of Austria-Hungary).
It is worth noting that since the end of Apartheid South Africa has gone through an extensive process of changes in place names (for obvious reasons).
Finally, here are the meanings of African country names: