King's sacrificial bull escapes

2010-01-21 21:13

Mbabane - Swaziland's recent Incwala, or first fruits ceremony, went awry when a black ceremonial bull escaped, injuring seven young warriors with his horns in the process.

Now there are whispers that the escape was an ill omen for the landlocked kingdom, which is led by King Mswati III, the last remaining absolute monarch in Africa.

Spokesperson of the Swaziland Solidarity Network Lucky Lukhele said the “ancestors are angry with the kingdom for hiding the fact that Mswati was not suppose to be king in the first place, because he has a brother from his mother's side who has been hidden away.

"To be a king in our culture you need to be the only child on your mother's side, but Mswati has a sibling who has been hidden away in Taiwan for over 40 years."

Lukhele said the majority of Swazis were unaware of the brother's existence.

Ancestors tired

"If this brother comes back, it will be the end of the Swazi kingdom, and so the ancestors are probably tired of all the deceiving going around,” said Lukhele.

The king was meant to sit on top of the bull during a ritual in early January, after which the warriors were supposed to kill it with their bare hands.

But, for the first time, this part of Incwala, which takes place over several days, could not be performed.

Two army helicopters were used to help search for the bull, but it was not found.

Pressed for time, the king then chose a bull of his liking.

Sources say the bull that had escaped was chosen by elders and not the king, whose right it is to make the selection.

"Traditionally and procedurally, the bull must always be chosen by the king.

King not consulted

However, this year some of the elders known as 'tindvuna' made their own choice without consulting His Majesty. We believe the lack of consultation was the reason why the bull escaped and not found in time,” said the source, who is close to the royal family.

He said the bull was eventually found 12km away from the scene of the ritual.

The Incwala ceremony is held every year to strengthen the king’s rule and to mark the beginning of the first fruits.

The traditional prime minister of Swaziland, Jim Gama, said there was nothing strange about the bull escaping.

“The only problem was that the boys who were suppose to guard the bull were very weak, and so it overpowered them and ran away,” he said.
“A bull is an animal, and if it is given the space to run, it will. People must not make up stories that this is a bad omen for the king because of this and that. A bull running away is not a story,” he said.

Gama added that it was "news" to him that the king had a brother in hiding.

Read more on:    king mswati iii  |  swaziland  |  southern africa

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