It’s still cool to stay a virgin, say maidens
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‘THERE is nothing old or outdated about virginity testing or celebrating those who exercise restraint and choose to remain pure until they get married.”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.”
PROUDLY TRADITIONAL: Participants take part in the Reed Celebration at the Enyonkeni Royal Palace.
ICON: Princess Cebolabo