Truth, power, and politics: The curious case of Swaziland!

The King of Swaziland, Mswati III, had a problem with his country’s name being mistaken for Switzerland. Both are gorgeous mountainous regions landlocked by bigger neighbors.

So, on 18th April 2018, to mark the 50th independence anniversary from Britain, the “absolute monarch” changed Swaziland’s name to eSwatini, with a lowercase “e” – perhaps to make it a little more modern for the internet age.

Whether people did in fact confuse Switzerland with Swaziland is not known. But differences between the two countries are striking. Apart from being a country ruled by a man with 15 wives, Swaziland is one of the poorest.

It is also notoriously known for having the highest rate of HIV infection in the world. Almost 26% of the adult population is infected. Life expectancy stands at only 58 years, the 12th worst in the world. Merely changing the name is only a distraction from the more significant issues.

So why lie to his own people? The answer is power. And he wants to remain in the ruling realm for eternity.

truth-politics-power

Politics and power go hand in gloves. And politics is a profession in itself. World-renowned historian and one of the best-selling authors of our times, Yuval Noah Harari, in his conversation with Harvard professor, Michael Sandler, remarked that you could be the best scientist globally on the one hand but a terrible politician on the other.

It’s almost guaranteed to follow that order because science is about truth, eventually, whereas politics is about power.

And truth and power pull you in opposite directions.

Someday somebody tries to win in an election, in the US, in Israel, in Brazil, and tells the public the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth has a 100% guarantee of losing the election. Politics is never just about the truth.

Yuval Noah Harari

Of course, you need some ingredient of truth, but this is not the way anyone can win an election. And you certainly cannot remain in power.