Photos from Swaziland

 

 

The uMhlanga or Reed Dance in 1974

Swazi girls collect reeds around Mdutshane, south of Lobamba near Malkerns and walk, singing and dancing as they go along, to the residence of the "Ndlovukati", the Queen Mother, in Lobamba as a service to her: these reeds will be used to repair the windbreaks around the traditional huts in her residence. On the main day, usually in early September, the girls dress themselves in their traditional finery, the short "indlamu" skirts, "emagcebesha" necklaces and colourful "umgaco" sashes worn across the body. Led by the "bantfwabenkosi", the King's unmarried daughters, they march, singing and dancing, to the place where they deposit their reed bundles.

Then there is the big "Reed Dance" where all girls dance, swinging large knives, symbols of their virginity, in rows, singing and blowing whistles to the beat of the songs, groups after groups, young and old, a truly spectacular sight. The dance is in front of the King who, according to tradition, may choose one of the girls to be his new wife. A privilege in the old days, it is less welcomed nowadays as it means effectively the end of whatever ambitions the girl could have. Polygamy is still practiced in Swaziland by those who can afford the "lobolo", bride price, paid to the girl's family.


Girls cutting reeds
Girls cutting reeds

Making reed bundles
Making reed bundles

Girl with reeds
Girl with reeds

Girl with hairstyle
Girl with hairstyle

Collecting reeds
Collecting reeds

Girls from St. Mary's
Girls from St. Mary's

Girls dancing
Girls dancing

Singing and dancing
Singing and dancing

uMhlanga dance
uMhlanga dance

Marching with reed
Marching with reed

Carrying reed
Carrying reed

Young girl
Young girl

Girls with reed bundles
Girls with reed bundles

Walking with reeds
Walking with reeds

Princesses dancing
Princesses dancing

(See also: The uMhlanga or Reed Dance in 1970 --- The uMcwasho Ceremony in 1971 --- The uMhlanga or Reed Dance in 1973 --- Video uMhlanga or Reed Dance, 1973)
Back to Menu at Top of the Page


Share on Tumblr