King of AmaZulu, Goodwill Zwelithini says the reed ceremony, popularly known as ‘Umkhosi Womhlanga’ remains threatened by those who want to shut down the custom.

The king has urged maidens to protect it and ensure its preservation for future generations.

He addressed thousands of maidens at Enyokeni Royal Palace in Nongoma, northern KwaZulu-Natal.

There were high spirits despite cold and wet weather conditions, but the clouds cleared and the amaZulu king addressed the maidens – who had presented their reeds, as per custom.

The annual ceremony remains one of the most colourful cultural events, but thirty four years on, there are still challenges that threaten to shut the door on the ceremony.

The king called on the maidens to protect what belongs to them to keep the ceremony alive.

He also announced changes – saying red shawls with his face printed on – worn by maidens during the celebration, are banned.

“I don’t know who manufactures the shawls and use my face to make profit without my consent. He will manufacture his own for the maidens, and start a bursary fund with its profits.”

The king also condemned male bystanders who come to the ceremony with the intention to disrupt.

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