Below is a photo show casing one of Swaziland’s most world known traditional ceremony. The Umhlanga or Reed dance the English call it, is a Swazi national event held by the
Swazi in honor of the reigning king( King Mswat iiii ). It is attended by thousands of the Nation’s virgin girls, from all the country’s chiefdoms and allegiances. The year 2013 saw about 50 000 young,old,poor,rich and high born virgin girls attending the event. Among them were visiting girl attendants from Kingships across Southern Africa…The Zulu are always there, a number of participants-from as far away as Germany frequently frequent Umhlanga and dance their hearts out to swaying simple rhythm of the masses to a song they rarely if not at all understand.
Back to basics. Umhlanga-reed dance is held every August,the date is announced by traditional astrologers after a study of the moon and a number of other cultural considerations. The date is then relayed to traditional authorities, then the traditional councils at the Ludzidzini Royal Palace then to the Prime Minister and his Parliament. After that the Induna/maiden head-girl is free to relay the date to the whole nation. Girls are then, when the day arrives, relayed by the numerous Chiefdoms scatterd all over the country to the Ludzidzini Palace where they register their names and prensence in song and dance. From that day forward the girls are considered holy and therefore verily untouchable to the present male population. The funny thing is, even though indlamu and the whole traditional regalia scantly covers their precious bodies up,things like the word sexy and nice seldom enter your mind when you look at them. The only word/words dominating the poor three legged monster’s usually unholy mind is ‘beautiful and precious’. Nothing more. Then second day is a day of rend and dance, the forth comes with an early morning long walk to numerous but designated wetlands. Here the Umhlanga or reed grass is cut… It customary though that Inkosatana/head maiden(usually and elder princess ) be the first of all present to cut the first reed. The girls then carry the reed to the Royal palace; I do not know where they take all this energy but their singing never dies out. They will walk-dance all the way to Ludzidzini until, under the watchful eye of the King,Queen mother and the queens they deliver the reed and dance some more. I am telling you: there but a few things ever so naturally beautiful in today’s fake clogged world. And one of them is the Umhlanga ceremony of Swaziland.
The third day is the same as the others,only that the girls dance and sing all day. It is however the most anticipated day of all other days of the Swazi year. Why? It is the day we the Swazi see the new Liphovela…The girl according to the King, who is the most beautiful, most elegant maiden of all present. And believe you me, he never disappoints. King Mswati iii has an eye for beauty, his wives are the most beautiful of all queens. Hands down. Full Stop.
We will again have Umhlanga this year. I hope we continue having it till a time immemorial. Unfortunately political parties world over are discrediting the presence and validity of royalty and therefore threatening the continued presentence of true traditional culture and customs and therefore world attractions and events such as this. Also, the death of original and ethnic traditions means the death of holy,often sacred and ecologically valuable and thus ethnically protected resources. There is much to lose in the long term should we lose the Kingship of the Swazi King.