August/September is the month for the well known Umkhosi woMhlanga – THE ROYAL REED FESTIVAL. Annually this festival is held in northern Zululand at His Majesty’s, the King of the Zulu Nation’s royal residence at KwaNyokeni Palace near Nongoma.
This festival offers the unique opportunity to experience the natural beauty and majesty of the Kingdom of the Zulu, combined with the vibrant spectacle of Zulu cultural life.
The Reed Dance is a ritual celebration celebrating the Zulu nation and performing the essential role of unifying the nation and the King, who presides over the celebration.
The festival takes its name from the riverbed reeds, which are the central focus of this four-day event. The reeds are carried in a procession by thousands of young maidens who are invited to the King’s palace each year. More than 10 000 maidens, from throughout the province of KwaZulu Natal, take part in the Reed Dance ceremony, with the rest of the Zulu Nation helping them celebrate their preparation into womanhood.
It is a great honour for the young women to be invited to take part in the Reed dance ceremony, and it’s a source of great dignity and pride for their families. (According to the Zulu tradition, only virgins are permitted to take part in the festival to ensure that they are ritually ‘pure’).
The festival is an opportunity to show off their singing, dancing and bead-work, the fruits of many months of excitement and preparation.
The women of KwaZulu Natal make some of the best bead work in Africa which is on display at the festival. Visitors are encouraged to purchase a unique souvenir or gift to take home.
Zulu mythology has it that if a young woman who is not a virgin takes place in the Reed Dance ceremony, her reed will break embarrassing her in full public view.
And still today an expectant hush falls on the crowd as the chief princess is the first to choose a reed. Shouts of joy and celebration greet her as the reed remains intact and, with bated breath, each of the young women takes a turn to choose a reed.
Each September, the Royal Reed dance attracts guests from all over the world, and no visitor to KwaZulu Natal should miss this unique opportunity to join in the festive celebration of the cultural roots and proud traditions of the Zulu Nation.
African Insight is offering a first-time opportunity for you to be involved in this unique festival 30 August to 01 September 2013. Overnight at African Insight’s Somkhanda Game Reserve where we will indulge, cater and transport you to and from the Zulu King’s homestead – a mere 45 km away. Pre or post festival trips can include a visit to Kosi Bay to view the hundred year old fish traps in the Kosi mouth and a night (or 2) at Bhekula Community Lodge, adjacent to the world famous Tembe Elephant Reserve.
For more information or to book please contact Lundy at African Insight: