King Zwelithini praises 26?000 maidens for drawing tourists

2010-09-13 00:00

A FEW women tourists broke Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s ban on trousers at his Enyokeni Royal Palace in KwaNongoma during this year’s Royal Reed Dance held at the weekend, but were not turned away.

Most the women wearing pants were inside the premises of Enyokeni Royal Palace, standing just metres from where the king was watching more than 26 000 maidens handing over the reeds to him. The king was flanked by President Jacob Zuma, IFP leader Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi and KwaZulu-Natal Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize.

Trouser-wearers were in full view of officials from the Zulu Royal House and Department of Arts and Culture, who appeared to ignore them.

However, the officials monitored photographers from pointing their cameras up the maidens’ skirts.

The Department of Arts and Culture warned before the event that “wearing of pants by female journalists and tourists is not allowed as it is not in line with Royal Palace protocol”.

U.S. tourists Jana Koch and Alicia Clarke said they were told they shouldn’t wear trousers at the event, but they said they did not have skirts with them.

They said they passed a number of security check points without being stopped.

“A lady from protocol had told us to either wear skirts or long trousers. But she also said that skirts are preferable,” said Clarke.

Another man said as travellers, the two women could not be expected to obey the instruction.

Arts and Culture spokesperson Vukani Mbele referred questions about trousers to Nhlanhla Mtaka or Prince Mbonisi Zulu, spokespeople for the Zulu Royal family, but their phones were off yesterday.

The handing over of the reeds took almost four hours because of the number of maidens. Some maidens were later seen consuming alcohol at the palace, buying it from hawkers, who were selling it despite being warned not to do so within the event’s designated area.

Later in the evening the bare-breasted maidens braved cold weather to listen to the king’s more than two-hour speech which ended after 8 pm.

The king praised the reed dance as an event that draws tourists to northern KwaZulu-Natal, “To save this country from economic melt-down this country needs tourism, which brings life and happiness to my people,” said the king.

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