Swaziland's king visits Baltimore, seeks investors

September 22, 1991|By M. Dion Thompson

The king of Swaziland, a landlocked country near the southeastern tip of Africa, looked every bit the young man-about-town yesterday as he strolled along the Inner Harbor's promenade with Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

King Mswati III's visit was brief: a stop at the National Aquarium, an exchange of gifts with the mayor at the World Trade Center -- a book and a City that Reads paperweight for a tray and banner -- and then the stroll. Dressed in a fashionably cut, mustard-colored, double-breasted suit, the king caused a stir as he and the mayor walked along the promenade, talking about his country's economic goals.

At age 23, he is Africa's youngest monarch. He has five wives and several children. In Swaziland, polygamy is used to cement alliances and unify the country. Each of King Mswati's wives comes from a different clan within the country. His father, King Sobhuza II, had 70 wives and 208 children.

King Mswati came to the United States to address the United Nations, but stopped in Baltimore to put out the word that his country of 800,000 people is looking for investors. Swaziland is trying to fashion itself into a nation with a role in Africa similar to that of Switzerland's in Europe, Mayor Schmoke said. The king said he wants to make Swaziland a neutral country, attractive to investors.

"We are looking forward to you coming to Swaziland and bringing some investments," he told Mayor Schmoke, before stepping into his black Cadillac limousine and taking leave of Baltimore.

Mayor Schmoke, who arrived at the Inner Harbor from a cleanup campaign in the Riverside neighborhood, said during a pause that the visiting king had "pretty ambitious goals."

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