The physical museum building is hosted in an unused former butchery building in the Tambankulu Estates in the north of the country. An architect was hired to transform the former building into a museum, which involved numerous meetings and discussions on design features and the other aspects of the renovation – which includes a steel framed veranda structure. The driving force behind the museum was the project’s NKE Bob Forrester, pictured here with Jakob Zeidler at the opening ceremony. Also present were Prime Minister Dr Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini, the EU Ambassador Nicola Bellomo, and the CEO of the Swaziland Sugar Association Phil Mnisi.
Dr Nhlanhla Dlamini, head of the History Department at the University of Swaziland was involved in archival research with original source materials for the displays in the museum. The displays trace the history of the sugar industry which has been active in the country since the colonial period in 1955 and taken into Swazi ownership following independence in 1973 under the then newly formed Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation. Part of the research included visits to various archives, interviews with former employees, and colonial era families who were associated with the industry - which has led to the collation of a historical outline and timeline for the panel displays. World sugar history was also researched, in addition to the industry’s history in Swaziland. Growing Sugarcane was researched at RSSC with extensive field trips with agriculturalists. Milling was carried out at Simunye and Mhlume with mill tours and extensive consultations with field and mill staff. In addition, old photographs were sourced from within the country, from the Commonwealth Development Corporation, and the British national archives in Kew, London. These images were digitised and retouched in preparation for display.
Panels showcase the sugar industry from various perspectives, from Geology (why the sugar industry is where it is) to World Sugar History, Swaziland Sugar History, Growing Sugarcane, Milling Sugarcane, The Future of Sugar and the EU and the Sugar Industry. Prime Minister Dlamini remarked that “the museum is an iconic landmark showing the past, the present and the great future of the country’s biggest industry as well as our excellent cooperation with the EU.”