A nation in crisis

Swaziland

Usually, when I find out that a new country has found its way to this blog somehow, I do some online research to learn something about the newest country. Yesterday the African nation of Swaziland became the 163rd nation to be added to that list.

In the first year since WordPress started breaking out page views in this way, all but a handful of nations have made it to this blog at least once. Page views by number don’t mean a thing to me, but page views tied to various countries is another story.That’s what really interests me.

What to say about Swaziland? How about this: It has the lowest life expectancy of any nation on planet earth. Or to put it another way, in no other nation can a newborn child expect to die quicker than in Swaziland. Somebody has to be at the end of every line, and in this–perhaps the most telling of any list I can think of–Swaziland brings up the rear.

What’s the reason? HIV, of course. Half of the people in their 20s, and more than a quarter all adults in Swaziland have HIV. The death rate is extraordinarily high, and this nation–which gained its independence in 1968 (the same year I was born)–is in grave danger.

I picked that pun up from Mercutio in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and it’s applicable here as well. A nation gripped with this disease has real problems. I’m happy to learn about places I didn’t know of before, but what I’ve learned about Swaziland saddens me greatly.

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