Trousers not allowed at reed dance
Durban – Women wearing trousers will not be allowed entry into Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s palace during the reed dance, the KwaZulu-Natal department of arts and culture said on Monday.
"They will not be allowed in. They will use their discretion as to whether to change and wear skirts. We recommend they put something on like a kanga," said Vukani Mbhele, spokesperson for arts and culture MEC Weziwe Thusi.
This weekend, thousands of women will participate in the annual reed dance festival, which was introduced by King Shaka decades ago to promote respect for women and virginity.
The festival will be held at King Goodwill Zwelithini's palace at eNyokeni, in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
"Wearing of pants by female journalists and tourists is also not allowed as it is not in line with royal palace protocol," said Mbhele.
The annual event draws maidens from across the province, who present the king with a reed symbolising their purity, said Mbhele.
He said there would be a colourful display of different dances by the maidens on the second day of the festival.
"The event, which gets bigger and better every year, is a major draw card for international tourists and media, who are keen on getting information on the South African, particularly Zulu, culture and way of life," said Mbhele.
He said the maidens would be taught life skills, moral regeneration and HIV/Aids prevention methods this year.
On Friday, Mbhele also said nobody would be allowed to take "inappropriate" pictures of the maidens, who usually wear traditional attire that reveals most of their bodies.
Mbhele said security guards would arrest anyone suspected of taking indecent pictures and these would be destroyed.
The king had also indicated he would like his five wives to be more involved in the dance, and to work with the maidens' leaders this year.
Each wife had been allocated a different district for which she would serve as ambassador.