'Reed dance outdated and sexist'

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

The Young Communist League has opened a can of worms by labelling the reed dance "outdated and sexist".

Castro Ngobese, the YCL's spokesman, said the reed dance "coerced young girls to expose or display their genitals under the pretext of promoting outdated cultural practices".

Zulu monarch, King Goodwill Zwelithini, reintroduced the reed dance in 1984 and on Wednesday paid tribute to all those who practise it, saying it was part of Zulu tradition and culture.

Ngobese said: "This practice is outdated and constitutes a violation of women's rights, principally because it propagates sexist notions about how 'good girls' should behave.

"It is extremely biased against the female child, whereas male children are not subjected to such practices," he said.

He went on to say that the practice also vilifies those who are not virgins and judges them as impure according to largely patriarchal standards.

"As the YCL we call on the working class and the poor to fight and abolish these reactionary and backward cultural practices. Young girls and women should not be prisoners of backward traditions," he said.

The IFP Youth Brigade condemned the statement, saying it was an insult to the cultural heritage of the Zulu people.

"To brand the rich cultural heritage of the Zulu people, as expressed through the annual reed dance (Umhlanga), as outdated, backwards and sexist, is a clear demonstration of how out of touch the YCL is with the real challenges facing our young people," said the IFP Youth Brigade's Pat Lebenya-Ntanzi.