Colonial administrators, indigenous leaders, and missionaries: Contesting the education of the Swazi child, 1921-1939
Simelane, Hamilton S.
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The study of Swazi historical affairs in the colonial period has remained patchy. The historian is confronted by numerous gaps that make it difficult to get a comprehensive view of the development of the history of the country during this period. One of the neglected subjects is the nature of the relations between indigenous rulers who were allowed to exercise some authority by the British policy of Indirect Rule, colonial administrators, and missionaries who promoted western education for Swazi children. This article interrogates such relations in the 1920s and 30s arguing that between 1928 and 1937 the education of Swazi children was intensely contested by groups whose main aim was power and control over the indigenous population. The article shows that indigenous leaders challenged western education as advanced by missionaries because it was viewed to be undermining the power and authority of the Swazi monarchy. Colonial administrators were part of the contest as they wanted an education system that would further the ends of British colonialism. For their part, the missionaries became part of the contest as they believed that western education was a good instrument for evangelization.