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Mbabane Femi-Nazis

"Entering Swaziland from the west he notes that "... one sees on a shoulder of the mountain side large plantations of trees and here and there the white roof of a European house. This is Mbabane, the capital of the country and its seat of government. As we enter its clean and well-kept street with trees planted on each side, we notice the Union Jack of Old England floating from a lofty flagstaff outside the Government offices. The town itself is a mere hamlet consisting of 200 European residents and contains six little stores or shops."

"The Umhlanga or "Reed dance" is the second most important ceremony as well as one of the most colourful. The ceremony is specially for unbetrothed maidens to pay homeage to the King and Queen Mother. The Queen is know as the Ndlovukati or "she-elephant". It attracts young girls from all over the country. In the past this used to present an opportunity for the King and suitors to choose new brides as the beauty of the maidens is totally displayed. The trend has been reversed now since younger girls of below marriage age also attend. The maidens, like the boys, set out to collect reeds from selected areas which end up being used to build wind breaks for the Queen Mother. They are expected to walk all the way, as in previous times there was no transport."

"Here in the mountains of one of Africa's last monarchies, the king is still known as The Lion and his mother as The She-Elephant. Bare-breasted maidens sing and sway for their rulers as in generations past. Newspapers report on village jitters about witches hurling lightning from the heavens."

Title image from the Garden of Wraith.

Group Information

  • 61
  • Swaziland
  • May 28, 2004
  • English

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