King Misuzulu holds first traditional ceremony as reed dance gets underway

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Thousands of AmaZulu maidens are expected to travel to the Emachobeni Royal Palace at Ingwavuma in northern KwaZulu-Natal to celebrate the reed dance ceremony on Saturday.

This is the first traditional ceremony to be held and led by the newly installed King Misuzulu KaZwelithini. The ceremony known in IsiZulu as umkhosi womhlanga follows shortly after his performance of the key ceremony of entering the kraal – also called ukungena esibayeni – which is part of the traditional process to install a new King.

The palace, which was built near the border of Eswatini by the late King Goodwill Zwelithini, has a rich history.

Director of the Impande Research Institute, Professor Langalibalele Mathenjwa, explains that the palace was built after the prime minister of the AmaZulu nation, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, revisited the history of King Dingane whose grave is near the palace.

“The late King Goodwill Zwelithini started to build the Emachobeni Palace so that the people of Ingwavuma would not feel that they were left out when it comes to matters of the Zulu nation, such as celebrating cultural rituals, like Umkhosi WamaGanu. The people of Ngwavuma were feeling that they were not actually part of Zululand,” says Professor Mathenjwa.

Meanwhile, local historian and cultural expert, Khaya Ndwandwe, says the Emachobeni Palace is different from other palaces in that it has no queen occupying it, and it is used largely by traditional leaders from surrounding areas to perform traditional ceremonies.

There is no difference from other palaces, the only difference is that there is no queen who is staying there, but they do practice some rituals like the ceremony of amaganu which is the Amarula festival, as well as the reed dance.

“The palace is surrounded by amakhosi (chiefs) from the Umkhanyakude District. They practice some rituals here as the Nongoma-based palaces are far away from them. It [Emachobeni] is similar to other royal family palaces. It has the grave of King Dingane which is not in the Emakhosini area where many amakhosi were buried.