Mswati plays the waiting game

Zinhle Maphumulo

Zinhle Maphumulo

Thousands of young maidens braced the scorching sun in Swaziland at the weekend to participate in the second leg of the annual Swazi reed dance.

The first leg of the ceremony was held at Mbabane at the beginning of the month. The ceremony, which has been awash with controversy and a dash of bling over the past few years, was held at Nhlangano village.

Although the day started in anticipation and vigour, it rather ended in a damp mood when the king failed to announce his chosen bride for the year. On inquiry about this rare turn of events, culture-conscious locals said it was not strange for King Mswati III to delay this announcement.

"Sometimes he makes the announcement three weeks after the reed dance event," they said.

At midday, the beautiful maidens had already gathered outside the Nhlangano Stadium holding their reeds. The princesses opened the ceremony by parading in front of the king who was the envy of common men. Of late, the reed dance has attracted spectators who come as far as the US to feast their eyes on the king's spoils.

Mswati and his entourage of soldiers arrived in the afternoon and the ceremony started with princesses chanting to announce his arrival. The king's imbongi also welcomed the king to the ceremony with praise songs.