After weeks of speculation, Swaziland’s King Mswati the Third has officially unveiled a new bride: Siphelele Mashwama (19), daughter of a Swaziland Cabinet minister, Jabulile Mashwama.
The news was confirmed by royal festivities overseer Hlangabeza Mdluli.
The new bride is in currently in New York in the United States, where the king (49) is attending the United Nations general assembly.
In the early hours of Sunday morning Mdluli told local journalists who were at the airport to see the king off that it was official. Siphelele will be wife number 14 (including the three wives who left him). Other wives of the king are Inkhosikati LaMatsebula, Inkhosikati LaMotsa, Inkhosikati LaMbikiza, Inkhosikati LaNgangaza, Inkosikati LaMagwaza (deserted), Inkhosikati LaHoala (deserted), Inkhosikati LaMasango, Inkhosikati LaGija (deserted), Inkhosikati Magongo, Inkhosikati LaMahlangu, Inkhosikati LaNtentesa, Inkhosikati LaNkambule, Inkhosikati Ladube and Inkhosikati LaFogiyane.
At the annual reed dance, popularly known as the Umhlanga Annual Reed Dance, Siphelele was given red feathers known as emagwalagwala, a bird that is associated with the royal family.
Her father, Dr Petros Mashwama, is a lecturer in the computer science department at the University of Swaziland.
Notably, Siphelele was rated as the most “eloquent presenter” when she attended a conference at Rochester University in 2016, and presented a paper on empathy or luvelo.
Siphelele, a graduate of Swaziland’s Waterford Kamhlaba World University College, stated that empathy was not an easy task but an important discussion that leaders needed in order to improve the lives of their people. She described it as an attribute to allow people to interact successfully.
In her speech, she argued that superpowers were not supportive of the initiatives by the southern block to reduce the devastating scourge of the HIV/Aids epidemic. She called for a change of policies to address the disparities faced by mankind.
A royal insider confided that the heavy presence of foreign media made it difficult for the royal family to unveil the new bride for the king.
Siphelele was referred to as “special maiden” for two weeks, and had royal escorts and a heavy police presence around her.
Nobody was allowed to pass her, or even mingle with her, for the duration of the reed dance.
In the past, such maidens would be unveiled during the smaller reed dance that’s normally held in southern Swaziland at the end of September, when the king returns from abroad.
Men were not allowed to look at her or even come near her. Many were sternly warned against taking photographs of the special maiden when she entered the cattle byre. Security personnel made a wall in front of her, confirming curiosity among Swazis who understand how the royal family operates whenever there is a new maiden appointed for the king.
The first instalment of the annual reed dance was held last weekend at the country’s spiritual capital Ludzidzini.