Mbabane: Some Government trucks across the country that were meant to ferry Imbali to the Ludzidzini Royal Residence for the annual Umhlanga Reed Dance ceremony has been spotted returning empty in most centres of the country.
It could not be quickly ascertained whether young maidens have opted to boycott the call for Umhlanga Reed Dance ceremony.
This happens at a time when the country is faced with political unrest where emaSwati are calling for a Prime Minister which is elected by the people as opposed to what is currently happening where the Prime Minister is appointed by the King.
Also, the COVID-19 pandemic could affect attendance as people are limiting themselves from attending mams gatherings.
Earlier this week, Imbali leader Nonduduzo ‘Zuzu’ Zubuko through their Majesties commissioned Imbali for the annual Reed Dance Ceremony.
The Umhlanga Reed Dance ceremony brings together maidens to cut reeds for the annual repairs to the windbreaks of the queen mother’s village; it lasts for five days. It is also symbolic of the unity of the Swazi Nation
The Kingdom of Eswatini is known for preserving its culture and heritage, has always observed the national Umhlanga which is one of the biggest traditional vents in the country.
Imbali leader when commissioning Umhlanga made it clear that only a limited number of Imbali will be allowed to attend the Umhlanga read dance, to ensure that all COVID-19 prevention protocols are followed.
History of Umhlanga
Umhlanga is the largest cultural festival in the Kingdom. It lasts for a week, with the last day known as the main day, which is the public holiday.
In this festival, whose traditions date back centuries, the Kingdom’s unmarried and childless females congregate at the royal residence of the Queen Mother in Ludzidzini.
Up to 40,000 girls dressed in traditional attire; bright short beaded skirts with colourful sashes take part in the ceremony, making it one of the biggest and most spectacular events in Africa. They head out in groups to the riverbanks (some march over 30 km) and using sharp knives cut tall reeds and bring them back to the Royal Homestead.
During the ceremony, the young maidens, led by the Swazi princesses then present the newly cut reeds to the Queen Mother to protect her residence. The custom began as an annual task to use the reeds to make repairs on the windbreaks (reed fences) around the royal residence.
After parading back with the reeds, dancing, and music to celebrate the ceremony then takes over. This begins on the afternoon of the 6th day and continues on the 7th day, the main day when the King attends and crowds gather to join in the festivities.s