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Without the King (2007) — SwazilandWithout the King (2007) — Swaziland

           The tiny Kingdom of Swaziland (population 1.1 million) in southern Africa is the last absolute monarchy on earth. This documentary contrasts the reign of King Mswati III (b. 1968) with the forces agitating for a constitutional democracy. The king, who assumed the throne at the age of 18 in 1986, has 13 wives, multiple palaces, and a $10 billion bank account in Saudi Arabia. His people drink out of mud holes. The Swazis have the lowest life expectancy in the world at 31 years (down from 61 in the year 2000), the highest prevalence of HIV infection among adults at over 50%, and 70% of them live on less than a dollar a day. The film interviews the many brave people fighting for change — pastors, AIDS activists, political opposition leaders, village chiefs, and orphanage workers. The contrast between the ancient traditions and the modern world are epitomized in the King's daughter, princess Sikhanyiso, an eighteen year old who goes to college in California, and who simultaneously defends her father and yet insists that her country will be different in her generation. I watched this film on Netflix streaming.

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