Mbabane: Today marks the 13th day of the Incwala ceremony that continues to be held at the Ludzidzini Royal Residence and the other four main regional royal residences in Eswatini. These are namely the, Mpumalanga, Mbangweni, and Buhleni residences.
The ritual calls for His Majesty King Mswati to visit all four residences as part of the Little Incwala in preparation for the main Incwala Ceremony that is held at the Ludzidzini Cattle Byre. The day of the main Incwala ceremony is not known as it is determined by ancestral astrology and is yet to be announced.
It is expected that King Mswati will soon commission the young boys known as Ingatja to go and fetch the sacred shrubs, the Lusekwane and red leaves Imbondvo, accompanied by emabutfo. This will then signal the imminent start of the main event.
Incwala is Eswatini’s most important cultural event. A ceremony that has lasted for hundreds of years, it is one of the last remaining examples of what was previously common practice in many African countries. It has a spiritual power that is largely lost on outsiders, and indeed many of its inner workings remain shrouded in secrecy.
Although often translated as ‘first fruits festival’, the tasting of the first of the season’s bounty is only one part of this long rite. Essentially this is about cleansing and renewal, and – above all – celebrating kingship. The main participant in the Incwala is the King, when there is no King there is no Incwala.