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Brave Maidens!

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MBANGWENI— Over 10 000 maidens braved the cold weather and danced for Their Majesties at the annual Shiselweni Reed Dance.

The maidens led by Indvuna yeMbali Nothando Nhleng-etfwa first deposited their reed at the Mbangweni Royal Kraal and then moved on to the main arena, where they danced for about three hours. The most popular song with the girls was ‘Munikeni Lihawu lakhe’ which the girls politicised.

The lyrics in general mean that the king should be allowed to do whatever he pleases freely, but the girls sang that political parties and human rights organisations were trying to stop the king from exercising his own free will and promote his culture. Due to the cold some of the girls resorted to wearing jackets whilst others were found huddling in several groups trying to keep warm.

As is the norm, competition was tight between the maidens of the three security forces namely, the army, police and correctional services. They painted a very bright and pretty picture in their matching attire and each danced hard to outclass the other. The Shiselweni Reed Dance follows the main dance which was held two weeks ago at the Ludzidzini Royal Residence, where about 100 000 maidens participated.

All schools in the Shiselweni region were closed a day early by the Minister of Education, Wilson Ntshangase, for the girls to prepare for the ceremony. The maidens were accommodated in a very large castle shaped tent, whilst others used very small camping tents just outside the royal kraal. Tourists once again showed their appreciation of Swazi culture and a majority of those interviewed by this publication were from the Netherlands and France.

Local artist Nana Magagula also witnessed the occasion and like a majority of the tourists, also took many photographs of the girls and some warriors. However, many on lookers complained about the lack of matching traditional attires for a majority of the maidens. A majority of them were dressed in dull coloured emahiya, whilst others just wore simple short skirts.

“It would not be a bad idea if the government made plans to provide the girls especially those from poor families with the traditional regalia,” said Anne Winston a tourist. As a result, during the main dancing those in dull outfits were in the back row, but they all got a glimpse of the king as he did the giya dance.

Present at the occasion were Emakhosikati, Cabinet ministers including Home Affairs minister Mgwagwa Gamedze, Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Ndumiso Mamba and Works and Public Transport minister Ntuthuko Dlamini. UNICEF Resident repres-entative Dr Jama Gulaid also watched the proceedings from the VIP tent.

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