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Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender

Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender

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Charles Lindholm

and baggy trousers,only women wear bright colors,
contrasting shirt and top,and floral patterns; in contrast,
men wear plain outfits of matching drab colors (though
some bright blues are considered to be masculine). For
special occasions,women wear necklaces,earrings,nose-
rings,and bracelets,while acceptable male jewelry
consists of an austere wristwatch. Men always have short
hair and most wear typical Pathan wool hats,which some
young blades decorate with a flower. Both young men
and young women may wear kohl to accentuate their
eyes. Women also decorate their palms with henna. Men
drape woolen blankets across their shoulders and over
their hats in cool and rainy weather,while women always
wear white shawls,which they use to cover their shoul-
ders and long hair. In the village,poorer women wear
their shawls when they walk about the street or are in the
fields,but women of any social standing never leave their
compounds without donning a burqa—a voluminous
all-over covering of black cloth which renders them
completely anonymous. Even in the compound women
only let their shawls down to reveal their hair when in the
presence of very close relatives,such as their own
children or siblings.

Women who must go out in public scrupulously
avoid encountering men. If a man and woman do happen
to meet on the pathway,she will step aside and look down.
Men and women do not look at each other or speak to each
other in public,and amongst themselves men never refer
to another man’s female relatives,except euphemistically
to ask about “the house.”When in the presence of men of
one’s own family,women should exhibit sharm(shame),
and remain quiet and deferent.
Stereotypical male images of female beauty are
inspired by local love poetry,which follows the familiar
Persian pattern,apostrophizing long black hair,eyes like
stars,milky white skin,and so on. Corpulence (which is
rare) is also much desired in a woman. Female images of
the ideal man are not so well articulated,since there is no
female love poetry,and little possibility for women to
have any choice in marriage partners. But it is clear that
women favor men who are strong,honorable,and
commanding.

GENDEROVERTHELIFECYCLE

Up to the age of 6 or so,girls are known as waraand boys
as warukai. Afterwards,girls are called jinaiand boys are

halak. An adult man is saray,and an adult woman is
khaza(wife). Elderly men are respectfully called spin
giray(grey beards); elderly women may be called
budai—though this is an insult in direct address. The
major marker in a boy’s life-cycle is circumcision,which
is the occasion for a large public celebration. It usually
occurs when the boy is between 2 and 5,but can take
place later,and in any case implies no change in rights
orresponsibilities. A girl’s only important life cycle
ceremony is marriage,which marks her transition into
womanhood and her departure from her own family.

Socialization of Boys and Girls

Pathans greet the birth of a boy with celebration,and the
birth of a girl with condolences and silence. Nonetheless,
both male and female infants are treated more or less
alike. They sleep with their mothers and are swaddled
until they are around 12–18 months old. Whenever they
cry,they are pacified with the mother’s breast. Weaning
is sudden and usually occurs when a new baby arrives—
generally when the child is around 2,but sometimes
much later.

Gender distinctions become very marked after the
child is taken out of swaddling. Until he becomes a halak,
a little boy is considered to be quite incompetent; he does
no chores and is not held responsible for mistakes that
would earn punishment for girls of the same age. He is
the prince of the household and is treated with deference
by all. If he dirties himself,his sister will wash his
clothes; if he breaks something,his sister will pick up
after him. If he hits his sister,he will be applauded. As a
result of constant pampering and low expectations,little
boys are not as advanced developmentally as girls,who
are expected to help out with household chores from an
early age. In particular,as soon as they are able,they
serve as caretakers for their younger siblings,carrying
them continually on their hips,and taking responsibility
for their well-being.

As they become jinai,girls spontaneously begin
exhibiting typical female behavior,such as donning head
scarves and avoiding boys. Younger girls report the latest
scandals in the village,learning conventional morality as
well as the highly valued skills of gossiping. As they get
older,girls stay more and more within their family
compounds,practicing the purdah (seclusion) they will
follow for the rest of their lives. Formal education for
girls is rare,though some do now go to a few all-female

Swat Pathan

834

primary schools where they learn rudimentary skills of
reading and writing. But for most girls,life will be
perpetually circumscribed within the domestic sphere.
The primary virtues for girls,as for women,are
obedience and deference,a capacity for hard work,an
ability to bear punishment,and a sense of shame and pro-
priety,all of which are deeply inculcated into them by
peer pressure and parental training. At the same time,
Pathan girls are also taught a strong sense of pride in their
lineage,their family,and themselves.
Boys’socialization is very different,and has differ-
ent aims. After their extended period of irresponsibility
and indulgence,at around the age of 5 or 6 boys begin to
be trained by their fathers in the maintenance of honor.
They are instructed in the names of their clans and in
genealogy,and are taught the proper rituals of greeting
and politeness,most especially deference to elder men. A
boy learns how walk in a dignified manner rather than
running,how to control his emotions in public,and how
to maintain an impassive face and a manly demeanor.
Any babyish behavior earns quick and harsh punish-
mentfrom the father. Crying and whining,which were
indulged before,become taboo,and lead to shaming
andslaps. Gossip,so much a part of the lives of girls,is
discouraged. For boys learning the virtues of courage,
respect,and proper comportment,the private lives of
others should be of no interest.
While girls become more housebound as they get
older,boys are increasingly out in the world. In the vil-
lage streets and fields they join their age mates in gangs
from the same ward where they learn about the competi-
tive rough and tumble of masculine life. In these gangs
the strongest and most daring rule. Fathers expect their
sons to stand up for themselves among their peers,and a
boy who flees a fight is punished. Aside from the serious
play of gang life,a halakmust also help with work in the
fields and participate in public rituals of hospitality. Some
boys also go to school,and a few may continue on to
college,and to professional or semiprofessional jobs.
As noted,girls,even if educated,live in the private
sphere of the household,and their only realistic hope is
to become like their mothers. In contrast,boys have a
more conflicted existence. Though expected to be meek
and obedient to their elders,they are also expected to
assert themselves in the rough-and-tumble universe of
their peers,where the joker and the fighter succeed. These
contradictory expectations can have a problematic effect
in later life. (For Pathan socialization practices see

Charles Lindholm,[1982],Cherry Lindholm [1982],and
Newman [1965].)

Puberty and Adolescence

There is no special marking out of puberty among the
Swat Pathans. For girls,adolescence often does not even
exist,since many are already married by the time they
reach puberty and so have effectively entered adulthood.
For boys,in contrast,adolescence is a continuation of
childhood,and can last for many years,since men marry
late and do not carry adult responsibilities until then.
Typically,adolescent boys run with their gangs,
wrestling,playing pranks on villagers,and testing each
other’s courage. Older boys may manage to keep a pros-
titute in their clubhouse,or rape a girl caught out alone.
Male adolescents are notoriously easily to offend.
Arejected friendship,a careless insult,or a minor humil-
iation can lead to violence and to a blood feud.

Attainment of Adulthood

As noted,girls become women when they marry. They
continue to keep strict purdah and must show deference
to their husbands and mothers-in-law. Their status is
slowly enhanced if they have sons. Women without sons
are held in contempt,and can expect their husband to take
a second wife if he can afford the expense. Unmarried
woman are not considered adults; usually they are hidden
in their own homes and rarely spoken of,as their status is
both ambiguous and disgraceful.
A man also requires a wife to be reckoned as an
adult,but sons are not as crucial for his status as they are
for a woman. What is most important for him is that peers
recognize his power and autonomy. This means that man-
hood is fully achieved only when a man inherits his land
from his father and becomes an independent householder.

Middle Age and Old Age

Both men and women continue along the pathways set for
them during their early years. For a woman,child-raising,
arranging marriages for her children,dominating incom-
ing daughters-in-law,and maintaining her status as first
wife are the most important priorities. After menarche,
women no longer need to remain in seclusion. If they
have had sons and controlled a large household,their
lives are reckoned to have been successful.

Gender over the Life Cycle

835

The aging process for men is more ambiguous.
Although respect is automatically awarded to an old man,
he is likely to resent the fact that his sons demand to be
given the land and authority that he fought all his life to
gain. As a result,elder men are often marginalized and
embittered.

PERSONALITY DIFFERENCES BY
GENDER

In general,the Pathans believe that women are naturally
emotional and irrational while men are stoic and prag-
matic. This division of labor is evident at funerals,where
men meet at the men’s house to drink tea and exchange
subdued greetings and stereotyped remembrances,while
women crowd together in the household of the deceased
to weep and moan,pull out their hair,lament,and faint.
Pathan women gain status among other women for
the depth of their grief and capacity to bear suffering.
Their dominant narrative form is “the tale of the hard-
ships that have befallen me”(Grima,1992). Men,in con-
trast,pride themselves on their emotional stoicism. Even
anger,which is very much a male prerogative,is properly
expressed coldly,with forethought. Revenge,a major
element of Pukhtunwali,is a dish that men savor cold,
plotting carefully for many years to enact vengeance.
Pathan men say that women are far less intelligent
than men. Women do not necessarily agree,but they do
recognize their own lacks in education and experience.
The negative stereotype is belied by the fact that girls who
do go to school tend to do much better than their male
counterparts. Men also reckon that women are untrust-
worthy and unable to keep a secret. They are thought to be
vindictive and petty,continually seeking advantage over
their husbands. Men,in contrast,are supposed to be above
any concern with women’s affairs. Ideally,they are more
focused on public matters of politics and religion.
Despite these stereotypes,to an outsider,the men
and women in Swat are remarkably alike in character:
proud,conservative,competitive,aggressive,and articu-
late; strong friends and formidable enemies.

GENDER-RELATED SOCIAL GROUPS

Virtually the entire sociopolitical order of Swat is
structured by the segmentary lineage system which is

based on patrilineal descent. As mentioned in the “Cultural
Overview,”this system connects all Pathans in Swat to one
another through reference to a genealogical pyramid that
reaches back to a common patrilineal ancestor. This pyra-
mid provides the framework for the political order,as men
who are close patrilineal relatives are expected to ally
against those who are more distant. Maternal links are offi-
cially completely excluded from this system,but Pathans
do assume that they will have friendly relations with their
mother’s kinsmen,though those maternal kin cannot be
obliged to participate in battles.
Patrilineal descent is also completely determinant of
inheritance and residence. Land and rights are shared
equally among sons or brothers,while the women of the
lineage do not inherit. Villages consist of a core of men
descended from a common paternal forebear and their
dependents. Each village is further divided into wards
(tuls) according to patrilineal kinship ties. Every tulhas
its own men’s house where Pathan men and their clients
gather to talk and show solidarity.
Households ideally are made up of a patriarch,his
wife or wives,his unmarried daughters,and his sons and
their wives and children. It is only within the household
that a woman has any official authority. However,
eventhere her orders can be overriden by her husband,
though this rarely occurs.

GENDER ROLES IN ECONOMICS

Men do all the work that requires appearing in public.
They do the plowing,sowing,harvesting,and other farm
work,as well as any herding of animals; men build
houses and walls,mill grain,set bones,slaughter animals,
and cut hair; local carpenters make elaborate carved
chairs,now much coveted by Western collectors. Men
also do the buying and selling in the market,and only
men should hold paying jobs. Men are responsible for
blood debt and revenge,undertake warfare,and migrate
in search of work.

Ideally,women are responsible for all domestic
chores:childcare,cooking,and so on. This division of
labor is so strict that a single man is ashamed to make rice
for himself,and asks his sister or mother to prepare it for
him. Women are also responsible for building ovens to
bake their bread; another valued female skill is the intri-
cate embroidery of pillowcases,dresses,and quilt covers
that are often given as marriage gifts.

Swat Pathan

836

As mentioned,men inherit all land and property.
When a man dies without sons,his brothers—not his wife
or daughters—inherit from him. In principle,a woman
does have absolute rights to the jewelry and the monetary
value of the land given to her at marriage by her
husband’s family (mahar),but this is only claimed in case
of divorce,which is rare.

PARENTAL AND OTHER
CARETAKER ROLES

Mothers and older sisters or young female servants are
the primary caretakers in the Pathan household,and take
the major role in all socialization. Men serve as discipli-
narians and later as instructors to their sons on matters of
propriety and etiquette.
Although mother and daughter are emotionally
close,the mother’s relationship to her daughter is ambiva-
lent. This is said to be because the girl will abandon the
household at marriage,but there also may be an element
of jealousy,since girls are often treated with much
affection by their fathers.
Boys are very much tied to their mothers,who
indulge them far more than they indulge their daughters.
The father–son relationship is much more formal and
fraught with tension,since the two are eventual rivals
over land and authority. The father demands and gains
respect and deference from his son,but it is the mother
whom the son loves.

LEADERSHIP IN PUBLIC ARENAS

With the advent of the modern state,official bureaucracy
and political appointments now overlay the traditional
system,but in earlier times leadership in Pathan society
was held by forceful men with powerful lineages and sup-
portive allies who could establish dominance in a village.
But since no Pathan accepted the superiority of any other,
and since allegiance was wholly voluntary,the authority
of these informal leaders was always in danger of being
subverted by betrayal (Barth,1959b).
The other major authorities in traditional society
were holy men. Sanctified by their patrilineal connection
to a saintly ancestor and by their own asceticism and
pious demeanor,such men served as mediators in
disputes and as rallying points in times of war. Prior to

the annexation of the valley by Pakistan in the 1970s,
Swat was ruled by a family of saints who used their
religious aura and political acumen to establish their
regime.

GENDER AND RELIGION

Pathans are Sunni Muslims. All official and mystical
religious authorities in the region are male. Women are
forbidden to pray in the local mosques,though they often
follow Islamic practices more strictly than their husbands
do. Islam is less limiting of women’s rights than is local
custom,and this is slowly transforming property rights,
inheritance,marriage exchange,and the like. (For more
on women’s rights in Islam,see Coulson [1964].)

LEISURE, RECREATION, AND THE ARTS

Boys and girls have very different leisure-time activities.
Girls spend their free time playing jacks and other girlish
games,imitating cooking by making mud pies,dressing
their faceless dolls in finery and placing them in a tiny
wedding palanquin,singing and talking about marriage
and wedding gifts,and pretending to be the wives and
mothers they will soon become.
In contrast,boys’gangs roam the village playing
pranks,wrestling,joking,and hunting birds with sling-
shots. They do not sing nor do they play with dolls.
Adolescent gangs sometimes commit rape,destroy prop-
erty,and have slingshot fights with boys from other wards
and neighboring villages. Until recently,these intervil-
lage battles were ritual occasions that could end in death.
Adult men do not have a great deal of leisure time
during the farming season,but winter is usually quiet,and
then they rest on cots in the men’s house of their ward
drinking tea,talking politics,and taking nusfar(chewing
tobacco) with their allies and clients. Some men play
cards,smoke hashish,and sing popular songs,but these
activities are considered reprehensible and occur only
among very close comrades. Women have even less
leisure,since children and husbands always need to be
cared for. When women do relax they exchange gossip,
complain about their husbands,and tell tales of hardship.
These occasions take place during women’s periodic
visits to other households where they join in mourning or
celebrating rites of passage.

Leisure, Recreation, and the Arts

837

Entertainment is rare,and is provided by travelling
troops of male musicians and female dancer–prostitutes
who perform at weddings and other special celebrations.
Women are not permitted to watch these events,but look
on from behind screens or from afar.
While the primary female art form is lamentation
and narratives of distress,some women also make com-
plex abstract decorations on their house walls,suppos-
edly to ward off the evil eye. Men do not practice any
visual art,but they do recite and sometimes compose
poetry,usually in rhymed couplets.

RELATIVE STATUS OF MEN ANDWOMEN

In principle,men are the authorities over every aspect of
life. Even in their own compounds,women are supposed
to defer to men and offer them unquestioning obedience.
The husband controls all the family resources,and ideally
his wife should donate her maharto him as well.
Nonetheless,women can have considerable influence
over men as behind-the-scenes advisors and instigators,
and a wise man confers with his wife about household
expenditures and other matters of mutual interest.
Eventually,successful postmenopausal women can even
gain some of the public deference due to men.

SEXUALITY

Men regard sexuality as a positive good,while women
profess to have little interest in sex,which they say is a
distasteful but necessary duty. Sex itself is said to be
mainly a matter of penetration,without foreplay. Men
regard themselves as the predators in sexual liaisons,but
simultaneously believe that a woman’s passion,once
awakened,is insatiable. The double standard is blatant in
Swat,as men are expected to pursue extramarital affairs
and to brag about their conquests,while women who have
affairs are permanently disgraced and liable to be killed
by their husbands or male relatives. An exception are the
professional dancers who are despised as whores,but also
covertly admired for their freedom and power.
These female dancers have replaced the transvestite
boys and young men who provided sexual services in the
previous generation. Still,homosexual encounters
between boys and with men remain fairly common
among the Pathan,and many youths have their first

sexual experiences in this manner. A boy who has been a
passive partner in anal intercourse is not regarded with
great opprobrium,so long as he changes his habits,
marries,and fathers children. However,an adult man who
is passive is despised. It is said that a man becomes a
passive homosexual if he loves his wife too much,or if
he is enchanted by a male lover. Impotence is also a result
of enchantment,and is reputed to be quite common.
Both men and women are extremely modest in dress
and behavior in public,and boys and girls are expected to
follow suit at an early age. As mentioned,women cover
themselves completely outside the house,and wear a
headscarf at all times. Despite this,sexuality forms the
basis for the terms of abuse that are in common use
among the Pathans and their clients. Nor is chastity wide-
spread. Women of the poorer classes are sometimes the
equivalent of prostitutes,and the wives of barbers are
especially notorious for their promiscuity. Rape is said to
occur commonly when a man encounters a woman alone
and defenseless. She dare not report the offense,for fear
of being punished and even killed by her husband or
father.

COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE

First marriages are arranged entirely by the families of
the bride and groom,and serve to cement alliances
between families or to add a large brideprice to the fam-
ily coffers. The groom is usually much older than the
bride,who is quite often prepubescent. Love has no part
in marriage arrangements,though young people can
object if the chosen partner is known to be ugly,old,or
otherwise unattractive. Men who marry a second wife
or widowers may take a more active role in negotiations,
and look for a woman who is compliant and beautiful.
Aman is obliged by levirate to marry the widow of his
brother.

Pathan marriages are drawn-out and complex
processes of exchange between the two families. They are
arranged by go-betweens,often by the barber’s wife who
has access to many households. Mothers take the major
part in informal organizing and negotiating of the engage-
ment and marriage,but fathers must oversee the final
bargaining. The marriage service itself is conducted by a
mullah and consists of a statement of the contractual
arrangement between the new bride and groom. The bride
is carried in triumph in a palanquin by the groom’s party

Swat Pathan

838

from her household to his,where she is met by joyous
shouts,drumming,gunfire,and an enormous feast. The
female relatives of the groom dance and sing in happiness
as the bride is brought into the compound—the only time
dancing is permitted for them. Fights sometimes erupt
between the two households during this procession,since
marriage is seen as akin to the theft of a girl,and has
connotations of domination and rape.
The new bride is expected to stay silent and still for
the day,covered in her wedding shawl. Her new in-laws
coax her with sweets to reveal herself,but shame keeps
her hidden. Her husband is not permitted to take part in
the celebration. He should stay secluded in his men’s
house for 3 days before appearing at night to deflower
her—an occasion fraught with anxiety for both parties.
She fears she will be proven not to be a virgin; he fears
he will be unable to perform. Afterwards,if all goes well,
the bride gingerly enters into her new household.

HUSBAND–WIFE RELATIONSHIP

Although they sleep together and live under the same
roof,husband and wife are rarely close in Swat. Instead,
marriage is viewed as akin to warfare (Lindholm &
Lindholm,1979). The hierarchical sexual division of
labor keeps the couple apart,though complementarity
means that each requires the other for survival. The dis-
tinction between husband and wife is evident at meal
times. Wives and daughters only eat after husbands and
sons have finished. Males get the meat,fat,and other
tender morsels; females get the bones and watery soup.
Yet the image of the self-abnegating Swati wife is
not really accurate. Although trained to submit to men,
women also are taught to assert themselves. As a result,
the ideal of absolute wifely subservience is rarely found
in reality. Some assertive women manage to drive their
henpecked spouses into the men’s house. A few even
acquire lovers,knowing their weak husbands will not
dare to take revenge. More commonly a wary truce is
arrived at,as the wife has sons and comes to identify her-
self more and more with her husband’s lineage.
Men who are unhappy at home may pursue
affairswith their neighbors wives’and daughters,though
the risks are high if the relationship is discovered.
Homosexual liaisons with boys also occur. If very
unhappy,a man may marry another wife. However,
divorce is forbidden by Pathan custom. This means that

women repudiated by their husbands can never marry
again. Even male impotence is not grounds for a Pathan
woman to divorce her husband. Obviously,relations
between cowives are rarely friendly,and men who can
afford to do so will put them under separate roofs,or else
maneuver to have the disliked wife return to her family
home and then not invite her to return. Since it is assumed
that children of a repudiated wife are in danger of poi-
soning at worst,neglect at best,they accompany their
mother,but the boys will return to their father’s house
when they become young men in order to claim their
inheritance rights.

OTHER CROSS-SEX RELATIONSHIPS

Brother and sister are close allies and have strong ties of
affection. For a woman,the greatest tragedy,after the loss
of a son,is the death of a beloved and supportive brother.
Men rely on the advice and succor of their sisters,espe-
cially if they are married to men in the same village,as is
often the case.

CHANGE IN ATTITUDES, BELIEFS, AND
PRACTICES REGARDING GENDER

The strict division of labor by gender has recently been
challenged by the labor migration of men to Karachi or
the Gulf States. Left without men,women have been
obliged to do work that was previously prohibited to
them,and this has led in turn to shifts in attitude about
theproper place of women. Returning immigrants also
occasionally find the old Swati ways too extreme.
Change is also brought by the Muslim religious
practitioners who have increasingly entered the valley.
Oftentimes,these preachers recognize that Islamic law
does give women more rights than Swati custom
provides—especially in terms of inheritance and divorce.

REFERENCES

Ahmad,M. T. (1962). Social organization of Yusufzai Swat.Lahore,
Pakistan:Punjab University Press.
Ahmed,A. (1980). Pukhtun economy and society:Traditional structure
and economic development in a tribal society. Boston:Routledge &
Kegan Paul.

References

839

Barth,F. (1959a). Political leadership among Swat Pathans. London:
Athlone Press.
Barth,F. (1959b). Segmentary opposition and the theory of games:a
study of Pathan organization. Journal of the Royal Anthropological
Institute
,89,5–21.
Bellew,H. (1977). A general report on the Yusufzais. Peshawar:Saeed
Press. (Original work published 1864.)
Caroe,O. (1958). The Pathans. London:MacMillan.
Coulson,N. (1964). A history of Islamic law. Edinburgh:Edinburgh
University Press.
Grima,B. (1992). The performance of emotion among Paxtun women.
Austin:University of Texas Press.
Kandiyoti,D. (1991). Islam and patriarchy:A comparative perspective.
In N. Keddie & B. Baron (Eds.),Women in Middle Eastern history:
shifting boundaries in sex and gender
. New Haven,CT:Yale
University Press.

Lindholm,Charles (1982). Generosity and jealousy:The Swat Pukhtun
of northern Pakistan
. New York:Columbia University Press.
Lindholm,Charles (1996). Frontier perspectives:Essays in compara-
tive anthropology
. Karachi:Oxford University Press.
Lindholm,Cherry (1982). The Swat Pukhtun family as a political
training ground. In S. Pastner & L. Flam (Eds.),Anthropology in
Pakistan:Recent socio-cultural and archaeological perspectives
.
Ithaca,NY:South Asia Program Occasional Papers and Thesis.
Lindholm,C.,and Lindholm,C. (1979). Marriage as warfare. Natural
History
,88(8),11–21.
Newman,R. (1965). Pathan tribal patterns:An “interim”study of
authoritarian family process and structure
. Ridgewood,NJ:
Foreign Studies Institute.
Spain,J. (1962). The way of the Pathans. London:Oxford University
Press.

Swat Pathan

840

841

ALTERNATIVE NAMES

Isiswazi,Siswati,Tekela,and Tekeza are names used by
the Swazi themselves.

LOCATION

The Swazi,an amalgamation of some Nguni and Sotho
clans,live in the southern African country of Swaziland,
in the Mpumalanga province in South Africa,and in
neighboring areas of Mozambique. Swaziland,one of the
smallest countries in Africa,shares its eastern border with
Mozambique,and its northern,southern,and western
borders with the Republic of South Africa.

CULTURAL OVERVIEW

At the top of the Swazi social hierarchy are the King and
Queen Mother. The King (iNgwenyama) is leader of the
Swazi nation who rules with the assistance of the Queen
Mother (iNdlovukati). According to tradition,the King
presides over the highest court and is the only person
whocan assign the death penalty in a crime (Kuper,1961,
p. 55). He commands the army,allocates land,and has
access to the royal cattle herds.
The Queen Mother presides over the second-highest
court,but her councillors may serve on the highest court
and her hut can be a sanctuary for those sentenced to
death. Despite the King’s control of the army,the official
commander-in-chief may reside in the Queen Mother’s
village and she may have her own regiments under the
control of local princes. Furthermore,she serves as a
check against his misuse of national wealth. The sacred
objects of the Swazi nation are always in her possession.
It was after the sudden death of his father,King
Bunu,that the child Sobhuza was selected as his succes-
sor in 1899 (Kuper,1978,p. 18). However,he could not
assume that role until he reached majority. Queen Mother
Gwamile,his grandmother,served as queen regent until

Sobhuza was installed as King in 1921. Until her death in
1925 at almost 100 years old,she was consulted on vari-
ous matters. During her regency,Queen Mother Gwamile
set up a fund,derived from taxes of employed Swazi men,
to repurchase land alienated during Boer and British
incursions during the 19th century. She had a tremendous
impact on the Swazi people as Queen Mother.
When Sobhuza was installed as King,his mother
Lomawa became iNdlovukati. During his long reign of
61 years,which encompassed three fourths of the colo-
nial period,he survived three Queen Mothers including
his mother,his mother’s sister,and a wife,after his
mother’s sister’s death. When he died,his wife’s sister
and cowife served a Queen Mother. He was the longest
reigning monarch in the world at the time of his death.
As a traditionalist,Sobhuza II was unrelenting in his
resistance to Indirect Rule and dual political structures.
As a consequence,alternative political structures did not
emerge until the eve of independence,which occurred in
1968. However,the Swazi National Council,used as a
vehicle to squelch the emergence of political organiza-
tions,was a traditional structure expanded to the national
level and was more democratic. The political leaders who
did emerge in the 1960s had strong ties to the royal
family.

When Sobhuza saw that the British government was
intractable in its demand for a Westminister-style consti-
tution,he formed his own political party,the Imbokodvo
National Movement (I.N.M.),which worked in tandem
with the major white settlers’political organization,the
United Swaziland Association,and won Swaziland’s first
national election in 1964. After sordid legal maneuvers,
the King decided to suspend the Swazi constitution and
institute a more traditional form of government in 1973,
at which time all political parties were banned.
The Swazi homestead,which exhibits a scattered
settlement pattern,is composed of the homestead head,
his mother (if she is alive),his brothers and unmarried
sisters,and his wives and nonadult children (Ngubane,
1983,pp. 98–99). All adult males have their own
dwelling and have access to land and cattle allocated by

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