This past weekend saw an ignition of the country’s lone super festival, Bushfire, which ended with a splendid performance by South African legendary musician, Tsepo Tshola. The display of international flags showed what support the festival got with tourists coming from as far as oversees countries, with the Eswatini Schools Arts and Culture Associations (ESACA) issuing that tourists have made it their priority to experience the country’s cultural
activities hence ESACA’s role in reinventing the economy. President of the association, Albert Ngwenya said their role in attracting and boosting tourism was of prime importance, saying that they would rally behind the aspirations of government in reinventing the economy. Government picked tourism as one of the sectors that are earmarked for the revival of the country’s economy and the flocking in of international tourists during festivals such as Bushfire and traditional events like Umhlanga, Incwala, and the Buganu ceremonies at Buhleni and Hlane
will be used as revenue generation. These people, said Ngwenya, would be so mesmerized by the performances that on returning to their countries would leave behind revenue. “Tourists just love the traditional events and are quite thrilled by children. They have marked their calendars lest they missed out,’’ said Ngwenya. He said he had experienced many of them who pledged their support to the country’s cultural accomplishments, and would never miss out on annual events. These people, said Ngwenya, went back to their countries and wooed others to come in and witness such events of national pride and importance. “A lot have been coming from the time they first set foot in the country,’’ said Ngwenya, adding that festivals such as Bushfire were a cherry on top. While international visitors relished virtually every event, he noted that a lot marveled at the traditional Sibhaca and Ummiso
dances, and to comic effect would go on to dress and emulate the performers.
There are 5 groups that form the Schools Arts and Culture Associations which are Drama and Theater, including umbholoho, poetry and African dance. There are drum majorettes with categories like military and kwaito dance. The best out of these can be seen at national events like the King’s birthday, said Ngwenya. The third association is Ummiso which includes ingadla. The forth is Sibhaca where you get indlamu and sizingili. The fifth and last one is music whose chairperson is Khonolenkhosi Dlamini. Sponsorships that proceed from companies like McMillan Eswatini in the form of cash prizes are excellent motivational tools and the recent sponsorship of E250 000 by the
national publishing company will go to each category in the winning schools competition, excluding music. The money is given according to the events and schools are awarded to the third place. Ngwenya said on top of the cash prices the association goes out to create clusters, where they train students at the Tinkhundla centers. This is for those who would not make it to the displays in Matsapha. The association goes on to organize Culture Day where schools from each Inkhundla compete amongst each other and prices given out. The training of the pupils, who are taken from Primary and High Schools from across the 4 regions of the country, is imperative if the maintenance of the traditions of the country is anything to go by. Ngwenya said they appreciated coordination with government through the Ministry of Education and Training as well as the Eswatini National Arts and Culture Council, saying invaluable advice has proceeded from these sectors. “Our success is largely due to government’s support and we truly appreciate that,’’ said Ngwenya, adding that all benefited in the end.
Minister of Finance, Neil Rijkenberg in February said tourism had been identified as a priority sector that had the potential to catalyze economic growth across the economy. In 2018, the country experienced a 5.1 percent decline in tourist arrivals, an issue which needed to be addressed urgently. Rijkenberg said tourism has proven to be resilient and a fundamental contributor to economic activity in the country by generating foreign currency and creating jobs, adding that government continued to create awareness of the country and to promote it in various international and regional platforms. He said they would like to thank government’s Cooperating Partners, the SADC Trade Related Facility, for funding the formulation of the National Tourism Bill, mentioning that the proposed legislation seeks to effectively regulate the tourism sector through active participation of all stakeholders. Government will be reviewing Eswatini’s visa regime to launch e-visa and visa-on-arrival for tourists. Tourists need to be shown exclusivity and treated as special guests. Minister of Tourism, Moses Vilakati said there was a lot to be explored in Eswatini and if the tourism industry was to thrive, such needed to be marketed. Social networks should be fostered all to promote the industry and it is in such networks that the facilitation of culture integration must happen, where Eswatini, the Republic of South Africa and other neighboring countries would be seen to be doing the same thing in the tourism industry. Social networks were powerful tools that could be used to commercialize the country, showing off all the attractive offers that are of interest to the tourist. Social networks have provided excellent opportunities for businesses in terms of advertising. The tourism industry can thrive under such platforms, and anyone can show off the places of interest that may be visited by the tourists.