…and the culture
This small country has a larger-than-life culture. A distinguishing factor is Swaziland’s vehement love and respect for their king, Mswati III.
As the only country in Africa with an absolute monarchy, you’ll see the King’s face plastered on Swazi native material, which locals frequently wear. But the biggest example of Swaziland’s cultural beauty is the famous Umhlanga, the Reed Dance.
The Reed Dance is an eight-day ceremony where unmarried and childless girls cut reeds and present them to the Queen Mother, the King’s mother. There’s loads of singing and dancing involved from approximately 40 000 girls, come rain or shine, and wearing bright colours is the norm.
The main day to attend the celebration is day seven at the King’s palace in Ludzidzini Royal Village. The king also attends on day seven to watch the performances. The ceremony starts at the end of August so try to plan your trip accordingly. I missed the Reed Dance in Ludzidzini, so the Swaziland Tourism Authority kindly took me to an additional Reed Dance that took place in Nhlangano, the fourth largest town in Swaziland.Cultural experiences really don’t get more authentic than this. There are hardly any tourists and locals genuinely celebrate the event. Plus, watching the girls sing and dance in perfect timing is incredibly beautiful to watch.If you aren’t able to attend the Reed Dance, there are other opportunities to catch a glimpse of traditional Swazi culture. Stop by Mantenga Cultural Village, where two performances take place at 11.30am and 3.15pm. Afterwards, you are taken around the village and given an introduction into the Swazi way of living.