Swazi virgins dance, defy criticism

2012-09-03 21:57
Maidens carry reeds as they make their way to the Queen Mother's Royal Palace to deliver them at Ludzidzini in Mbabane, Swaziland. (AP)

Maidens carry reeds as they make their way to the Queen Mother's Royal Palace to deliver them at Ludzidzini in Mbabane, Swaziland. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Ludzidzini Royal Village - Thousands of bare-breasted young Swazi women paraded in front of their king to celebrate chastity and unity, dismissing criticism of the lavish ceremony in one of Africa's poorest countries for its last absolute monarch.

Clad in beaded mini-skirts and clutching machetes and mobile phones, women and girls as young as five danced and sang tributes on Sunday and Monday to the king and queen mother, also known as the Great She-Elephant, in a traditional Umhlanga Reed Dance meant to celebrate womanhood and virginity.

"I'm proud to be Swazi and to be a virgin. We are here to show unity with the king and with each other," said 18-year-old Gcebine Dlamini, bracing the cold of the southern hemisphere's winter in her skimpy outfit as scores of tourists had photos taken next to the topless women.

King Mswati III, who has at least a dozen wives and a personal fortune estimated at $200m, faced unprecedented protests last year when his appointed administration ran out of money after a 2009 recession in South Africa.

Extravagance

Despite the straitened times, the royal household has shown few signs of wanting to tighten its belt. In July, the Mail&Guardian reported that three of Mswati's wives joined a 66-strong royal entourage heading to Las Vegas on a shopping spree. There was no comment from the palace.

But women at the annual event gathered behind the monarch in the week-long celebrations, even though police kept a close watch on what they might tell journalists and tourists roaming the grounds of the royal village, some 20km outside the capital.

In the past, the king has used the ceremony to choose a new wife, and some girls still hoped to catch the king's eye.

"If chosen, I would be able to live a better life than what I have, have a lot of money, live a queen's life and travel overseas," said Fakazile Dlamini, 14, who arrived on a lorry from her village 60km away to attend the ceremony.

New royal wives have often received a BMW and their own palace, fuelling criticism in a country where more than two-thirds of its 1.4 million people live in abject poverty.

Polygamy

Women's groups and political opponents also say Mswati's penchant for multiple young brides ill befits a country with the world's highest rate of HIV/Aids, but the monarch says polygamy is part of Swazi tradition and helps cement national unity.

Maidens flocked in from across the country - some attend the ceremony every year until they marry - cut reeds from river beds, which they then presented to the queen mother in a mile-long singing and foot-stamping procession.

In the past, they would have been accommodated by families living close to the royal household but are now put up in camps and protected by police from other men.

Even though the girls refuse to criticise UK-educated Mswati who arrived at the event dressed in beads and lion cloth, not everyone supported his polygamous lifestyle.

"I don't want to be a queen, I don't want to share my man. Polygamy is not okay," Siphesihle Mdluli, 20, who hopes to go on to study medicine said while waving her bundle of reeds.

Read more on:    king mswati iii  |  southern africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
7 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

Watch: 2015 Absa Cape Epic route

The route of the 2015 Absa Cape Epic has been announced and it promises to be as challenging as ever!

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

4 exercise excuses and how to beat them
Watch: Insane road bike skills!
The most extreme journey ever?
Red Bull Lionheart trail run - not for the fainthearted!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

HOUSES FOR SALE IN Paarl

Houses R 8 900 000

HOUSES FOR SALE IN Paarl

Houses R 2 845 000

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a tendency to focus too intently on outer appearance and beauty which hides who you really are. You are being challenged...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.