Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Country information: Swaziland

Published: Monday, Feb. 1, 2010

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Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 1,124,000; Members, 1,132; Wards, 0; Branches, 4; Districts, 1; Percent LDS, .1, or one in 993; Africa Southeast Area; South Africa Johannesburg Mission.

Swaziland is a landlocked country in southern Africa bordered by South Africa and Mozambique. The people speak Siswati and English. Sixty percent are Christian and 10 percent are Muslim, while 30 percent follow tribal beliefs.

The Robert Beckman family, Church members from Montana, lived in Swaziland from 1978 to 1981, the first known Latter-day Saints to live in the country. Robert Dlamini was the first known Swazi to join the Church. He was baptized in 1979 while in Cardiff, Wales. He returned to Swaziland after graduation. A group of non-African Latter-day Saints moved to Swaziland in the mid-1980s. To meet the needs of this group, the Mbabane Branch was organized on 5 November 1985, with George Gardner as president. Two years later, the Church received legal recognition in February 1987. Senior missionary couple Kenneth and Betty Edwards arrived that same year.

The first missionary from Swaziland, Paulo Cipriano Zandamela, a Mozambican, served in the Pennsylvania Philadelphia Mission from 1989 to 1991. Fikile Nolwazi Dlamini was the first native Swazi to serve a mission. She was in the England London Mission from 1989 to 1991. Elder Neal A. Maxwell was the first member of the Quorum of the Twelve to visit the country on 21 February 1990.

The Mbabane Swaziland District was created on 18 January 1991, but it was disbanded when its units were incorporated into the Benoni South Africa Stake on 7 May 1995.

Swaziland's first meetinghouse, built for the Mbabane Branch, was dedicated on 18 July 1993, in a ceremony attended by government representatives and presided over by Elder Richard P. Lindsay of the Seventy.

In 1995, the Swazi units became part of the Durban South Africa Stake and in 1999 they became part of the newly created Hillcrest South Africa Stake.

Membership in 2003 was 886.

Sources: A brief history of the South Africa Durban Mission, 1999, Church Archives; South Africa Mission, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives; South Africa Johannesburg Mission, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives; South Africa Durban Mission, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives; Borgna Brunner, "Countries of the World, Swaziland," Time Almanac 2004.