It’s still cool to stay a vir­gin, say maid­ens

The Sunday Independent - - FRONT PAGE - NOKUTHULA NTULI

Young par­tic­i­pants take part in the an­nual Reed Cel­e­bra­tion at the Eny­onkeni Royal Palace in KwaZulu-Natal.

‘THERE is noth­ing old or out­dated about vir­gin­ity test­ing or cel­e­brat­ing those who ex­er­cise re­straint and choose to re­main pure un­til they get mar­ried.”

Th­ese are the words of Uni­ver­sity of KwaZulu-Natal engi­neer­ing hon­ours stu­dent Thando Zulu, 31, who has been at­tend­ing the Reed Cel­e­bra­tion at the Enyokeni Royal Palace for more than a decade.

With her hair freshly braided and nails per­fectly man­i­cured, Zulu, who also holds and in­for­ma­tion and tech­nol­ogy diploma, told the Sun­day Tri­bune that it was a myth that only girls from ru­ral ar­eas took part in the cul­tural fes­ti­val, which cel­e­brates “pu­rity”.

She knew plenty of young girls from cities such as Dur­ban and Jo­han­nes­burg who at­tended the fes­ti­val an­nu­ally, she said.

“We don’t do this be­cause we want to get no­ticed by men or be­come pop­u­lar. You have to make a con­scious de­ci­sion that you are go­ing to do this and com­mit to the process,” she said.

“I don’t come here to get a hus­band, the Reed Cel­e­bra­tion is not a dat­ing agency. Be­sides, in the past five years I’ve al­ready de­clined nu­mer­ous mar­riage pro­pos­als be­cause some men think they can buy my af­fec­tion with ma­te­rial things. I’m hope­ful that I will find love one day and when that hap­pens I will marry and start a fam­ily.”

Her sen­ti­ments were echoed by Pine­town Girls’ High pupil Phumelele Mkhize,18.

“It’s not that we don’t get pro­pos­als from men, and why wouldn’t we? We are very beau­ti­ful, as you can see,”she said with a laugh.

“But in life you have to do what’s right for you, not be­cause you are forced by your par­ents or pres­sured by friends. There will be those who try and ridicule you be­cause you are sup­pos­edly not ‘cool’ be­cause you are a vir­gin but I don’t let them get to me.”

Mkhize, along with com­puter sci­ences stu­dent Nonkany­iso Ntuli, is a trusted as­sis­tant to Princess Cebo, 14, who made head­lines last year when she led thou­sands of maid­ens to present the reed to her fa­ther, King Good­will Zwelithini. She did it again on Fri­day and Satur­day.

“Part of be­ing a maiden is hold­ing your­self ac­count­able for your ac­tions be­fore any­one else,” she said.

“We are not say­ing peo­ple will not be tempted to do things they know are wrong, but just be­cause our peers are hav­ing chil­dren doesn’t mean we should. And just be­cause I take part in vir­gin­ity test­ing doesn’t mean that I should be un­e­d­u­cated and not aspire to have a suc­cess­ful ca­reer.”


Pic­tures: Sibonelo Ng­cobo/ANA

PROUDLY TRA­DI­TIONAL: Par­tic­i­pants take part in the Reed Cel­e­bra­tion at the Eny­onkeni Royal Palace.

ICON: Princess Ce­bo­labo

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