Exploring Tourism in Swaziland
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Reed Dance

Manzini, Swaziland

If you are lucky enough to be in Swaziland during the Umhlanga Reed Dance you shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to see it for yourself. The event, which is held annually around the end of August when the reeds are matured and ready for harvest, lasts approximately eight days. The event gives the country’s maidens (childless, unwed girls) the opportunity to pay homage to the Queen Mother (Indlovukazi).

Before the start of the event, the girls come from all over the country. They are looked after and mentored by captains appointed by the Royal Family. As part of the tradition, the girls cut reeds and carry them back to the Royal Residence where the reeds are used as windbreakers for the perimeter. Aims of this particular ceremony include promoting solidarity between the girls. The seventh day of the Umhlanga Reed Dance is a national holiday and is when the King participates. On this special day the arena is filled with thousands of spectators who come to see the girls dancing and saluting the Queen Mother.

His Majesty then makes his rounds to salute thousands of girls as they cheer him on. The Umhlanga Reed Dance is truly one of Africa’s most fascinating cultural events!

The vibrant celebrations come to life on days six and seven. These are the days open for visitors to enjoy the energetic and colourful parade in the stadium. Day 7, the Umhlanga Main Day, is also a public holiday in Eswatini. For more information about the Reed Dance schedule, I also wrote a day-to-day overview of the eight-day Umhlanga Reed Dance Festival.

The Royal Reed Dance takes place in the royal Lobamba region, near the Ezulwini Valley in the Ludzidzini Royal Village, also known as the Royal Kraal. It's the residence of the Queen Mother. King Mswati III lives at the Lozitha Palace, a few kilometers away.

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