Sunday, September 13, 2009

Celebrating African Culture in Zululand

Here's a cheery piece. The Royal Reed Dance is an annual festival whereby around 10,000 topless Zulu maidens dance in front of the Zulu king at his royal residence, described as "a vibrant celebration of Zululand’s traditional culture and rich heritage ".

Tourists are allowed to attend the ceremony, but not to take pictures (two were arrested in 2007 for doing so), as apparently some unscupulous types like to post the topless pictures on the internet! I've posted one on here for illustration purposes only. Perverts kindly look away.

I would've thought parading half naked girls anywhere in South Africa would be a bit risky given the rape stats here, and that fear did not prove unfounded for one 14-year old in last year's event. What puzzles me is how they managed to find 10 virgins outside of a kindergarden in this coutry, let alone 10,000. Back when there was a thing called "Zululand", this type of traditional ceremony was probably quite quaint and interesting, but now there isn't and instead there is a thing called South Africa (I'm told they wanted it that way) where there are laws and modern institutions and all those kind of things which kind of seem out of step with the whole 'tribal' malarky.

But that's just my cultural, Eurocentric bias talking. In reality I'm sure it's a very lovely ceremony where the girls are treated with respect. In fact I'm quite in favour, now that I think about it, of a ceremony where these girls' virginity is hallowed in such a way. Apparently, if they're "impure", their reed will break and it will bring public humiliation to the girl and her family. Maybe there is some moralising influence in African culture after all. Now we just have to get them to wear clothes.....

Maiden stampede leaves one dead and 11 hurt

By Mdu Ncalane and Nathi Olifant

Tragedy struck at the annual Royal Reed Dance in KwaNongoma on Saturday, when one of the maidens was crushed to death during a stampede that broke out following a scramble for promotional caps.

Another maiden is in a critical condition while 10 others were seriously injured as the event turned into pandemonium.

The incident happened around noon, arts and culture spokesman Vukani Mbhele said in a statement.

A promotional vehicle had apparently stopped outside the palace as maidens were returning from laying their reeds. The occupants of the vehicle handed out caps to them. A scramble ensued as maidens pushed each other to obtain the caps.

The vehicle had been parked near a stack of logs which apparently tumbled as the maidens jostled each other.

The full report on the dead woman and her identity were not immediately available on Saturday. However, initial reports suggested that she had suffered head injuries.

Others fell over the logs, breaking limbs in the process.

Premier Zweli Mkhize, who is a qualified doctor, had to trade in his VIP status and return to his original profession as he helped to stabilise some of the maidens.

He was joined by Local Government and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube, Arts and Culture MEC Weziwe Thusi and department officials, as well as royal family members.

Hundreds of frenzied parents around the province inundated St Benedictine Hospital in KwaNongoma after receiving the news that several young women who were involved in the stampede had been taken there for treatment.

"Parents have been calling non-stop asking us to verify if the injured were their children," said a hospital staffer.

The Department of Arts and Culture said it would investigate the cause of the accident and would release the details in due course.

"The Department of Arts and Culture wishes all the maidens who have been injured a speedy recovery," said Mbhele.

Police spokesman Superintendent Muzi Mngomezulu confirmed the incident, but said that no further details had been compiled.

Mngomezulu also confirmed the stampede was caused by "pushing and shoving" while the young women were walking up to the palace.

Spokesman for the Zulu royal family, Prince Mbonisi Zulu, was not immediately available for comment.

Last year a 14-year-old Durban girl who was participating in the dance was forced outside by a group of men who then raped her.

This year police stepped up security, even deploying members from the crime intelligence unit, the national intervention unit and public order police officers to monitor the situation during the festival.

About 20 000 people attended this year's event.

5 Opinion(s):

Doberman said...

Yes, please, put some clothes on, please!!!

WHITEADDER said...

Can you imagine the stampede if in place of lousy caps they would have dished out KFC ? - Pamplona would look tame against it.

Viking said...

@Dobes and Whiteadder
LOL

I wonder what the caps were promoting??

Anonymous said...

"...if they're "impure", their reed will break and it will bring public humiliation to the girl and her family".

Wow - to think that a reed is able to tell this. Stupid K4's. Typical, given them anything free and they kill themselves. Maybe we should use this tactic to knock them off. Just flash some KFC during one of their strikes and watch them die...

Anonymous said...

Coons just can't get anything right.