Reed dance is one of the most adored and respected dances in South Africa. The Zulus consider it important even to the extent that it is even attended by their leaders. In Zululand, the dance takes place each year in September at the royal palace. Girls from all parts of Zululand and several other parts come to participate in the dance. The girls are supposed to wear traditional attires which include beads, bracelets, necklaces and colored sashes. During the celebrations, the women dance for their king with exposed breasts and bottoms.
As the name suggests, during the dance, each girl carries a long reed which is deposited on the floor at the approach of the king. The girls are required to choose the longest and the strongest reeds. The dance is led by a chief’s daughter or the Zulu princess.
Here are 10 Facts about the Reed Dance You’ve Never Heard of
1. The Dance was Introduced in 1991 as a Way of Encouraging the Girls to Delay Sexual Activity
Zulus discourage sex before marriage and this dance was created as a way of promoting that. One of the ceremony’s events is the test for virginity. If the reed breaks before the girl reaches a specified point, it is considered that the girl is no longer a virgin.
2. It Takes Eight Days
Reed dance takes the whole week and an extra day before it is concluded. During each day, various practices are conducted. The king should attend Two out of the eight days.
3. It Fosters Self Esteem
Individuals who participate in the dance are sure of what they have. Virgins are sure to pass the test since they have the courage that they have not engaged in any activity that is considered evil by the society.
4. It Boosts Cohesion
The fact that thousands of girls from the neighboring territories are encouraged to participate in the dance means that the communities are destined to always coexist. South Africa’s president is said to constantly attend such dances in South Africa and this shows that it brings cohesion. In Swaziland, King Mswati normally picks his wife’s from the participants regardless of their tribes.
See Also: Xhosa people, Tradition and Dance
More Astonishing Facts about the Reed Dance
5. It is a Form of Anti-aids Campaign
All participants in the dance are required not to engage in sex before marriage. It is interesting that this requirement has been adhered to by the girls as evident by the number of girls who participate in the dance.
6. It Entails no Competition
This eight-day ceremony is not a form of competition. It is meant to bring cohesion and a way of rebuilding the culture from apartheid. It also promotes a sense of cultural identity which is essential for nation building.
7. Unauthorized Photography is Prohibited
Taking photos during the dance is discouraged. The dance is considered a traditional practice and it should not be confused with pornography. Since the photos should not be published on media platforms and phonographic sites, the Zulus discourage unauthorized photography.
8. The Ceremony is not Centuries Old
Despite the fact that it has taken root, it should be remembered that in Swaziland, the dance commenced during the reign of king Mswati.
9. The Activities that Take Place During the Dance Does not Signify that All is Well in Swaziland
Normally, dances are meant to signify the good things in the society. Dances are common during celebrations and graduations but this is not the case in Swaziland. In this regard, we should not be fooled into believing and thinking that all is well in the kingdom of Eswatini. It is even surprising to note that about 80% of the girls who participate in the dance come from families who rely on food aids while their king ranks among the richest individuals in Africa if not in the whole world.
10. The Dance is Full of Controversies
There are a couple of controversies that surround the practice. For example, the dance is meant to discourage sex before marriage thus reducing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as Aids. However, Aids can also be contracted through anal sex which happens quite often in the kingdom and this defeats the purpose of reducing sexually transmitted diseases. A girl who has practiced anal sex is still considered a virgin during the dance. The criterion used in testing virginity is controversial too.
Various facts, information and controversies have been given about the reed dance. Some individuals and societies support the dance while some are against it, it’s left for you to judge