I learnt that early sex is not cool

THROUGHOUT my high school days I always wondered what happens at the reed dance.

THROUGHOUT my high school days I always wondered what happens at the reed dance.

I have never met anyone who has been there, so I had a lot of questions, like any other typical Joburg girl.

In 2006 I told my parents I wanted to go to the reed dance and they supported me. I went without telling my friends because I felt embarrassed to let them know I would walk around bare-breasted while paying homage to the king.

At the palace, as we picked the reeds to give to the king, we were warned that if a reed bends it means you are not a virgin. As I picked mine, I was careful not to bend it. I guarded it with my life.

I was overwhelmed by the number of girls who took part. The experience was just overwhelming and humbling.

Back home, I told all my friends about it. I was proud of myself for having taken that step to celebrate my virginity.

I went back again last year, this time with my cousin. This time I was more relaxed and the royal palace felt like home. I was humbled by the royal family's hospitality.

Through the reed dance I learnt that it was okay to celebrate ourselves as young women, especially because we find ourselves under so much pressure to be seen to be cool. I have learnt that having sex at a young age is certainly not cool.

As I prepared to go to Enyokeni again, I felt proud. I went not only for myself, but for all the young girls who look up to me as their role model. I also went there to be with the other young girls who share my sentiments.

It felt good to be among thousands of young and beautiful girls who take pride in their virginity and are not pressured by temptations. There is hope for the young girls coming after us, to remain pure until the right time comes.