Friday, December 12, 2014


The secretive annual Incwala ceremony in which King Mswati III is said to take narcotics and engage in unnatural sexual practices, is ‘Swaziland’s most important cultural event,’  according to a newspaper in effect owned by the King.

The ceremony is ‘a sacred event’, the Swazi Observer said in an editorial comment.

Incwala is a controversial ceremony that takes place between November and January each year. Traditionalists say Incwala is a ‘national prayer’, but Christian groups have criticised it for being ‘un-Godly’ and ‘pagan’.

The ceremony is shrouded in secrecy and participants are barred from talking about what happens. The Observer reported Incwala ‘has now become a major tourist attraction with hundreds of tourists flocking the country to witness the colourful event’.

The newspaper added, ‘It has been noted that the numbers of locals and tourists that attend the ceremony are increasing each year.’

However, the ‘hundreds’ the Observer said were expected to attend the ceremony this year are in stark contrast to the 50,000 people it was said attended the 2013 ceremony.

The Observer reported, ‘The ceremony, which also marks the fresh fruits of the season, has a spiritual power that is largely lost on outsiders, and indeed many of its inner workings remain shrouded in secrecy.’

The secrecy surrounding the ceremony in which King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, goes into ‘seclusion’ has aroused much controversy in the past.

Journalists who try to report the event are harassed and in 2011 a street vendor who sold pirated DVDs of Incwala was hauled in by the police and handed over to traditional authorities for a grilling. He was ordered to reclaim all the copies of the DVD he had sold.

Failure to do so might have seen him banished from his homeland, local media reported at the time.

A first-hand account of activities at Incwala has been circulating in media outlets for years.

In 2011the Southern Africa Report and Africa is a Country, reported an eyewitness testimony of Incwala. Africa is a Country said, ‘The ceremony is cloaked in secrecy and marks the king’s return to public life after a period of withdrawal and spiritual contemplation.

‘Among its highlights is a symbolic demonstration by the King of his power and dominance in a process involving his penetration of a black bull, beaten into semi-conscious immobility to ensure its compliant acceptance of the royal touch. The royal semen is then collected by a courtier and stored, for subsequent inclusion in food to be served at Sibaya – traditional councils – and other national forums.’

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