Maize or corn rain dances
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.