First reed handed over at annual Reed Dance

Nongoma - Princess Nomcebo has handed over the first reed to her father, King Goodwill Zwelithini, at the Enyokeni Royal Palace in Nongoma during the annual Umkhosi woMhlanga Reed Dance.

The palace was a hive of activity on Saturday as young women clad in traditional regalia gathered from all over the country to present their reeds to the king.

The young women sang and danced as they walked up a hill to the palace, holding up their reeds.

When Princess Nomcebo reached the palace, she led the young women in song and dance for about half an hour before they entered the palace.

Once inside, the princess knelt in front of the king and handed over her reed while the women ululated and the men danced. 

The colourful cultural festival was first introduced by Zwelithini in 1991.

The Zulu king's vision was to encourage young women to abstain from having sex, which would have an impact on the sexual transmission of HIV/Aids amongst young people.

The young women wake up at around 05:00. By 07:00 they gather for breakfast and visit various exhibition stands where they are exposed to career opportunities.

This is followed by instructions from their guardians on how they are to carry their reeds.

Each district then presents their reeds to the king and then gather at an arena where they wait to be addressed by the king and other dignitaries, who this year include minster in the presidency Jeff Radebe and his wife Bridgette as well as IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

The three-day event began on Friday.

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