Reed dance is a cultural practice in Swaziland that has taken place for many years, where reeds are used to mark the occasion. The people of Swaziland call the dance, Umhalanga, a native word from the Umchwasho community and the chosen village for the celebrations. In the month of September, queen mothers land - a royal village is always at its height witnessing something that for generation has been observed as of right. Believably, uncountable, but ladies both in youthful smiles and those that are yet to get married conjure for an all eight- day running event
On arrival at the royal residence in Zululand, the women on trail embarks on their first role of sourcing for reeds from the neighborhood, and this is usually accomplished during wee hours of the day. The official inception of the celebration follows thereafter by bundling of reeds together aimed for mending the windscreen guarding the royal village-this is usually done at night by the queens mother. After all this preparations and a day of resting, women then engages in adornment regalia, whereby the perfumed washing and the costume prevalence takes place. This can not be accomplished without the carrying of bush knives which signifies virginity (Patrick, 2004).
Notably, the real meaning of this celebration is to help guard and maintain women’s chastity, produce solidarity among women by working together, and provide some labor for the aging queen mother. This was not a mean task to incept but encompassed many approaches to succeed like arranging young girls in age regiments; this ensured virginity for the girls and in addition, be closely monitored in readiness to get married. those in aged regiments were also preferred to offer free labor to the queen mother ;this would give her some good time to examine the girls readiness to serve as the wife to the king.
On the big day, ladies supposedly parade fronting the king’s podium marred with jubilant spectators. After this, follows regrouping of ladies from different villages in order to mount some great performance for the spectators and the king’s dignitaries. This occasion however is not just about hand picking exercise of the king but stands as of right for all unmarried women and young girls including the kings daughters yet to get married to show case the countries rich traditional believes(Arnold, 2007).
As much stands for the past, the present realities of the reed dance though has been under criticism from left winged Swazi elites and international community the majority of Swazi people seems to encode it, and hence the future generation might easily have a taste of it. This is so because in the past, the reed dance solely began as a one community pass time but today the whole nation marks it, not because of bureaucracy but because it has something tied to and future already flourishing in anticipation as the nations rich tourist attraction. In addition, with the countries majority population rooted in voodoo and alchemy and their open air inheritance it is easy to foretell the future of traditional Swazi.
Swaziland being a country dominated by strict conservatives of traditions, it is easy to the future political system on this. Notably, those who serve in the kings hierarchy are the ardent supporters of the system. According to Patrick, the untouchable, traditional healers who are mostly women, are the mostly consulted over mental and physical problems, and also have the pride of attending the kings ceremonies and also the role of counselors-political slots.
In conclusion, the reed dance is a remarkable happening, not about the king choosing the wife and topless virgins, is all but availing the reeds for reparation of the royals residence and observation of the nation own tradition with a view of passing them on from generation to generation.
Patrick, M. (June 2004). Umhalanga or Reed dance. Johansberg; Matthews and Sons publishers.
Arnold, Richard, m.(October 2007) Umcwasho maidens. Durban; Kwa Zulu natal publishers.
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