Incwala – the First Fruits The ceremony begins when King summons young bachelors to collect a sacred bush called lusekwane. They have to march 50km to the site, where they lop off  branches under the light of the full moon, which this year was at Christmas. The next day, elders weave the freshly-cut branches between… Continue reading Incwala

2015 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog. Here’s an excerpt: The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many… Continue reading 2015 in review

Categorized as Swaziland

Clinical Notes

  The readers of my blog have asked me to write more about my work, rather than my walks. As always, I have altered the details to preserve patient confidentiality. There are few things more dramatic than a patient being brought to the clinic in a state of collapse. The relatives flap around anxiously. The… Continue reading Clinical Notes


This morning I picked this little beast off my leg. If you look closely, you can see a chunk of my white flesh in its jaws. It is an ixodid or hard bodied tick, a parasitic arachnid. I’ve had tick borne fever twice in Africa. Apparently there are 13 different strains in Swaziland, and catching… Continue reading Tick

Sibebe Second Time Round

Sibebe is a massive lump of granite, the second biggest monolith in the world. It is 2.6 billion years old and 1350 metres above sea level, reducing by half a centimetre each year. The summit is strewn with huge boulders, improbably perched or split through fault lines into segments. The high plateau forms a microclimate, with… Continue reading Sibebe Second Time Round


With a long queue of patients waiting to be seen, consultations tend to be brief and functional. Closed questions predominate, rather than open ones. Gogos, who have been starving prior to their fasting glucose blood tests, are keen to get home for breakfast with their medication. But when we are fully staffed, there is less… Continue reading Sangomas

Sixteen Days of Activism

It seems as though everything has a “national day”, but activism against sexual violence in Swaziland is so important that it gets sixteen days. The team at MSF Matsapha has been contributing to the cause in many ways.   Last week, I was interviewed on Swazi TV with Bongiwe, psychosocial counsellor supervisor. Judging by the… Continue reading Sixteen Days of Activism

Clinical Work

Just in case readers of this blog have the impression that I spend most of my time in Swaziland gallivanting around having a long holiday, I thought that I should slip in a few examples of clinical problems I have encountered at the clinic this week. This is the left hand of a woman in… Continue reading Clinical Work

Eye spy

I spy with my little eye, a foreign body lodged in the cornea. Daily Photo Challenge