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Bare -Breasted Virgins To Dance For New Zulu King Misuzulu Zulu

Joy Waweru | 2 weeks ago
Young girls participating in the Reed Dance.
Young girls participating in the Reed Dance.


In what is known as the old reed dance, thousands of young virgins(unmarried girls) gather in the royal palace in the town of Nongoma to celebrate the new king. The traditional dance is done every September.


This year's event is set for Saturday but the festivities are spread over eight days and are an important rite of passage into womanhood.


The event provides an avenue for the girls to show off their singing ability, their dancing skills as well as their mastery of beadwork


During the dance, each virgin presents a tall reed to the king. If the reed withers or breaks the girl is assumed to be impure.


Before the dance, the girls must undergo virginity testing and present the certificate.


This has been a point of contention with Human Rights Activists who argue this could be a violation of the right to privacy.


A law was passed in South Africa prohibiting virginity testing of girls under the age of 16 and only allowing those above the age of sixteen to be tested under certain conditions.


The proponents of the reed dance argue that the tradition encourages girls to preserve their virginity until they are married. As a result,  the Reed Dance has helped in containing HIV/AIDs.


The Reed Dance also presents an opportunity for older women to train younger women on social issues.



This time around, however, the new king's legitimacy is in question. The new king Misuzulu Zulu was declared a monarch shortly after the passing on of his father Goodwill Zwelithni who had sat on the throne for fifty years.


Among those protesting is Prince Simakade the King's firstborn son albeit born out of wedlock.


The history of the Reed dance goes back to 1991. The cultural dance was introduced by Goodwill Zwelithini


The tradition gained popularity among the Swazi kingdom and the Zulu kingdom so much so that tourists travel all the way to experience the ceremonies. The ladies dance bare-chested in their traditional attire.