…and the cul­ture

Observer on Saturday - - News -

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.

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