Maize or corn rain dances

Sunday Observer - - FEATURES -

iour im­pacts on each other. Hence maid­ens sing like the spring birds when they em­bark on the pil­grim­age dur­ing Umh­langa, as they are con­nect­ing with the pos­i­tive en­ergy of the birds. They sing in syn­chronic­ity with the birds, wel­com­ing them back af­ter hi­ber­nat­ing dur­ing the win­ter, thus call­ing the rain birds to join in col­lec­tive prayer. The maid­ens dance af­firm­ing to Mother Earth, the in­ter­de­pen­dency be­tween na­ture, plants, an­i­mals and hu­mans, in­quest for the plough­ing and plant­ing rain. Na­tive Amer­i­can metaphor sum­ma­rizes it for me, as ‘life seek­ing life’ the hu­mans seek­ing rain for plough­ing and plant­ing such that hu­man and an­i­mals can ex­pe­ri­ence life.

Incwala First Fruit/Grow­ing Dance

His Majesty King Mswati III af­ter Umh­langa, the plough­ing and plant­ing rain dance, pre­pares for seclu­sion lead­ing to­wards the first fruit and grow­ing rain dance, Incwala. The Na­tive Amer­i­can metaphor “corn is who we are” or “we are all ker­nels on the same corn­cob” af­firmed why Incwala is a grow­ing rain dance. Yes we cel­e­brate the first fruit, and so much has been writ­ten on this, when look­ing through the Na­tive Amer­i­can lenses, the corn or maize grow­ing rain dance emerged. Incwala re­quires the king seclu­sion and re­gain his con­scious­ness as leader and fa­ther in prepa­ra­tion for the grow­ing rain dance. In seclu­sion, detox­ing his deeds for the year, ac­cept­ing his be­hav­iour im­pacts on the fer­til­ity of the land and na­tion, med­i­tat­ing and fast­ing.

Incwala is rooted in pri­mary models like those of Na­tive com­mu­ni­ties, that is, plants, an­i­mals, nat­u­ral phe­nom­ena, earth, sun, moon and cos­mos.

The king whilst in seclu­sion uses na­ture as sym­bols and models for em­u­lat­ing nat­u­ral senses, from seclu­sion un­til Incwala the king is guided by na­ture. This con­nec­tiv­ity with na­ture en­sures his un­der­stand­ing that his be­hav­iour is linked to the land, this land where his peo­ple have ploughed and planted maize. There­fore seclu­sion is an im­por­tant part of in­dige­nous gov­er­nance, as the king gains clar­ity on how the nat­u­ral or­der of na­ture man­i­fest in his lead­er­ship. Of essence, he can­not lead a hun­gry na­tion, there­fore this seclu­sion must con­nect him with God in quest for rain, to grow the maize fields.

This is a tremen­dous re­spon­si­bil­ity as his fer­til­ity is linked to the fer­til­ity of the land, so he can be able to unity the peo­ple ‘like the ker­nel on the same corn­cob.’ The Incwala cer­e­mony is guided by the in­ter­de­pen­dency and in­ter- con­nect­ed­ness with hu­mans, plants, an­i­mals, nat­u­ral phe­nom­ena, earth, sun, moon and cos­mos. When the lit­tle Incwala be­gins, all th­ese sym­bols have been col­lec­tively en­gaged to en­sure that peo­ple af­firm the grow­ing rain. The lit­tle Incwala is be­gin­ning of grow­ing rain dance, gath­ers peo­ple in ma­jor ar­eas of the coun­try to dance like the ker­nel on the same corn. The peo­ple af­firm their quest for rain, chant­ing and singing praises to the king, as he is now the ‘shaman’ or spir­i­tual leader of this grow­ing rain dance. Af­ter seclu­sion his spir­i­tu­al­ity has been el­e­vated such that he can unite and lead this corn or maize grow­ing rain dance.


In con­clu­sion, the corn or maize dance ends with king bit­ing the first fruits as he has been lead­ing th­ese rain dances from Umh­langa to Incwala. Hence it is im­por­tant that the na­tion sup­ports the king dur­ing Umh­langa, by pre­serv­ing its sa­cred­ness as this is not a ‘sexy babe’s’ pa­rade show. This is time when the king proves to the na­tion that his chil­dren, led by the Inkhosa­tana, up­hold vir­gin­ity and chastity. And the test is al­ways the rain, can this dec­la­ra­tion by the king re­sult in the plough­ing and plant­ing rain, that is, Umh­langa our Reed Dance. The king’s be­hav­iour is tested from seclu­sion to Incwala, as he over­comes nu­mer­ous tests, the ma­jor tests be­ing is his lead­er­ship re­sult­ing in the preser­va­tion of pure boys, tin­gatja? As a na­tion with no moral val­ues would re­flect on him, hence tin­gatja col­lect the sa­cred scrub, Lusek­wane, on that sa­cred night. This sa­cred night of esikhaleni seLusek­wane must be pre­served in its sa­cred­ness as the be­hav­iour of the peo­ple im­pacts on the na­ture, in­clud­ing the grow­ing rain. The Incwala cer­e­mony is moral­ity and fer­til­ity test, the na­tion dances with their king, like ker­nels on the same maize cob, end­ing with the weed­ing the maize fields.

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