Swaziland, the last absolute monarchy in Africa, has changed its name to the Kingdom of eSwatini.
King Mswati III made the announcement during a celebration that marked 50 years of independence from British rule and his 50th birthday, while in a sports stadium in the city of Manzini, Agence France-Presse and the BBC reported.
“I would like to announce that Swaziland will now revert to its original name,” the king said, according to AFP.
In the country’s local language, eSwatini means “land of the Swazis.” The small, landlocked nation borders South Africa and Mozambique and has a population of about 1.3 million.
Several other African countries changed their names when they gained independence, but Swaziland kept its name after its 60 years as a British protectorate came to an end in 1968.
“African countries on getting independence reverted to their ancient names before they were colonized,” the king, clad in a red military uniform, said, according to AFP. “So from now on, the country will be officially be known as the Kingdom of eSwatini.”
The monarch had been using the name eSwatini for years, including when he addressed the United Nations General Assembly last year, according to the BBC. Lawmakers had considered changing it in 2015, AFP reported.
Some citizens don’t like the country’s colonial-era name Swaziland because it mixes Swazi and English, according to AFP. Other residents, who thought the king should focus his energy on the country’s flailing economy, were upset by the change, the BBC reported.
Mswati has ruled since 1986 and is one of the few absolute monarchs in the world.