[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]You must have heard about the Reed Dance, right? Known in Swaziland as Umhlanga and held usually in late August or early September. Well, it just so happens that the Swazis are not the only ones who have such an exotic festival involving the celebration of chastity among young maidens. While Umhlanga dates back to the 1940s during the reign of King Sobhuza II as an adaptation of an ancient custom called Umcwasho, the Zulu Reed Dance referred to as uMkhosi Womhlanga had its own rebirth in 1991 when it was reintroduced by the King of the Zulus, Godwin Zwelithini.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”25884″ img_size=”600×400″ alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]uMkhosi Womhlanga has become a popular event on the cultural tourism calendar and it is organized by the KwaZulu-Natal Arts & Culture Department in conjunction with the royal family. The festival features Zulu girls who come out to showcase their maidenhood and dance before the king and other dignitaries who have graced the occasion, such as President Jacob Zuma.

The highlights of uMkhosi Womhlanga is the arrival of the virgin girls numbering thousands carrying long reeds, led by the royal princesses. The reeds usually long, are presented to the king at the royal palace in eNyokeni in Nongoma, Zululand. Afterwards, the virgins proceed to dance before the king led again by the princesses.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”25885″ img_size=”600×400″ alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]Prior to the main event, the presentation of the reeds and the dance before the king, the girls undergo a virginity test to determine their status, if they have had sexual contact before. Several people in the past have frowned at the methods of the test which in any case rubbishes the myth that if a girl who is not a virgin joins the group, her reed will break proving she’s not a virgin.

In the days before the arrival at the royal palace, the girls are gathered where they are taught about the culture and the art of home-making and being a woman, by older Zulu women. They are encouraged on the importance of keeping their virginity, while current social issues such as teenage pregnancies and HIV are discussed.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”25883″ img_size=”600×400″ alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]uMkhosi Womhlanga attracts lots of participants from KwaZulu-Natal as well as neighboring Swaziland and Botswana. These girls dress in traditional attires of intricate beadwork and short skirts known as izigege and izinculuba which show their bottoms. No fabric is worn on the torso leaving the girls topless. Other items of costume include, anklets, bracelets, necklaces and colorful sashes. The colors at the tail of the sash denotes if a girl is betrothed or not.

Strict laws are usually enforced especially regarding photography to discourage people using them for pornography purposes.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Wow!! What a dedication to celebration, what do you think? Drop your comments and let us know.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]For more information, please see:

http://www.southafrica.net/za/en/articles/entry/article-zulu-reed-dance

https://www.theguardian.com/culture/gallery/2014/sep/06/south-african-maidens-perform-annual-reed-dance-in-pictures

http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/thousands-expected-to-attend-annual-reed-dance-20160830

http://www.news24.com/Archives/Witness/Trees-planted-at-Reed-Dance-20150430

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umhlanga_(ceremony)[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Notice to readers: Some of the images may have been taken from the Internet. We do not own them.We provide due credit to the owner(s) if we are aware of the source. You are free to contact us via email: [email protected] to provide proper credit or ask for removal of an image.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Niyi David

Niyi David

Creative Writer
'Niyi David explores the beautiful and enthralling continent of Africa with Afro Tourism® capturing colorful memories of places, cultures and events in words and images.
Niyi David
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