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Somhlolo: The wise King of EmaSwati

May 12, 2023
Bantu Chk
Core Spirit member since Aug 12, 2021
Reading time 2 min.

Somhlolo, the wise King of the EmaSwati, stood in contemplation as he watched the white man spread his paper money on the ground, offering it in exchange for the land. "This is what the white man trades with; this is his buffalo robe," he said. "Just as you trade skins of the leopard and the lion, we trade with these pieces of paper."
As the white man boasted about his riches and offered a sum of money for the land, Somhlolo took a handful of clay, made a ball out of it and put it on the fire. It did not crack. Then he said to the white man, "Now put your money on the fire and see if it will last as long as the clay."
The white man refused, admitting that his money would burn because it was made of paper. Somhlolo smiled, "Oh, your money is not as good as our land, is it? The wind will blow it away; the fire will burn it; water will rot it. But nothing will destroy our land. You don’t make a very good trade."
With a deep wisdom that only the elders possess, Somhlolo explained that their land of the EmaSwati was more valuable than the white man's money. It was a sacred land that had been put there by the Great Spirit of Mvelinchanti, and could not be sold because it did not really belong to them. It would last forever, as long as the sun shines and the great waters of Ngwavuma, mkhondvo, Usuthu and Luphohlo flow. It would give life to men and animals through all the years to come.
The king continued, "You can count your money and burn it with a nod of a buffalo's head, but only the Mvelinchanti can count the grains of sand and the blades of grass on these plains. As a present, we will give you anything you can take with you, but we cannot give you the land."
In this way, Somhlolo conveyed a powerful message about the value of the land and the folly of valuing material wealth over the natural world. His words still resonate today, reminding us of the importance of cherishing and protecting the environment, for it is a gift that has been entrusted to us by the Great Spirit, Mvelinchanti.

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