Women taking part in Swaziland’s annual Reed Dance where they will parade half-naked in front of King Mswati III have been banned from talking to the news media.
This emerged in a report in the Swazi Observer on Wednesday (30 August 2017), a newspaper in effect owned by the King who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
The Reed Dance participants who are generally described as ‘maidens’ or ‘virgins’ are travelling to the Ludzidzini Royal Residence for a ceremony that ends on Monday. The Observer reported that maidens from the Northern Hhohho region were unable to speak to the media. The newspaper wanted to know how much they were looking forward to the event.
The newspaper reported, ‘authorities responsible for the maidens said they were not allowed to conduct interviews with the media because they had not sought permission from their superiors.’
It quoted one saying, ‘Unfortunately, due to the fact that our superiors have not given us the go ahead to speak to the media we are currently in no position to comment on the preparations and we can’t reveal the number of maidens we currently have here.’
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that the maidens will once again sing songs at the ceremony against democracy in the kingdom where political parties cannot take part in elections and prodemocracy campaigners are prosecuted under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
The Swazi Observer also reported on Wednesday that about 80,000 maidens had registered to attend the Reed Dance (also known as Umhlanga) and more were expected. It spoke to one leader Nonduduzo Zubuko. It reported, ‘Zubuko said they would also be tackling issues of multi-party democracy stating where they stand as a regiment.
‘“We are happy with our system, we don’t need multi-parties in our country hence we will put that out there for everyone to know in song,” he said.’
SWAZILAND’S SINISTER REED DANCE
DISPUTE OVER REED DANCE SAFETY
SWAZI MAIDENS LEARN POLITICAL SONGS
CULTURAL REED DANCE TURNS POLITICAL
SWAZIS FORCED TO DANCE FOR KING
SWAZI GIRLS FACE PUBLIC WHIPPING