Mbabane: King Mswati has declared that Wednesday, December 22, 2021, is the main day for the annual Incwala ceremony. As such the day will be a public holiday. His Majesty pronounced the holiday after commissioning young warriors Ingatja to go and fetch sacred shrubs Lusekwane and red leaves Imbondvo from Masundvwini.
The Head of State was accompanied by his Queens Emakhosikati, Princes and Princesses Emazinyane, Prime Minister Cleopas Dlamini, members of the royal family, Chiefs, and regiments.
The national holiday was confirmed by the Minister of Home Affairs Princess Lindiwe who announced that “it has pleased His Majesty to inform the nation that the Incwala holiday will be on Wednesday, December 22, 2021.”
This year all those participating in the annual event are expected to vaccinate for COVID-19 and produce proof of vaccination as well as negative test results. The vaccination drive will continue even after the Incwala ceremony. This will be in an attempt to open up the economy and business as the country enters the New Year.
Incwala is Eswatini’s most important cultural event. It is a ceremony that has lasted for hundreds of years and 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.