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Umhlanga

From Academic Kids

The Umhlanga (Reed Dance) is a traditional dance where twenty to thirty thousand of Swaziland's maidens congregate and dance for the king (currently Mswati III). The young women, aged between about four and twenty, wear beads, short skirts and long tassels which denote their betrothenhood, and many are bare-breasted. The maidens are supposed to be virgins, but in practice many are simply young, unmarried women without children.

The king is allowed to pick one of the maidens to be his bride. On September 6, 2004, he chose a sixteen year old reed dance participant and finalist from Miss Teenage Swaziland as a fiancée, to join his eleven wives and one other fiancée.

The girls do not gather to dance for the king but cut reed for the Queen Mothers homestead and on the last day of the reed dance they dance for the Queen and the king joins in the dance.

Zululand

King Goodwill Zwelethini kaBhekuzulu, whose Zulu traditions are not far removed from those of Swaziland, revived the Reed Dance tradition in neighbouring KwaZulu-Natal, held annually at his Enyokeni Palace at Nongoma. The girls must pass a virginity test to attend. The King uses this occasion to address his subjects on wide-ranging issues, recently on AIDS.

Other meanings

"Umhlanga or Umhlanga Rocks" is a coastal town that is now part of eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality that also includes Durban, where much of the city's new commercial and residential growth has been focused in recent years.

Umhlanga Rocks, being a Costal Town, is a very popular tourist destination. Many attractions include the Sharks Board, the Surfing and the biggest shopping Centre in the Southern Hemisphere.

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