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Over a seven day period in late August to early September, during the Umhlanga ceremony also known as the Reed Dance, young unmarried girls between the ages of 10 and 18 years come out and parade themselves before the king.
Understandably in western culture that would be a big no-no I suppose, but actually, among the Swazi, it is believed that it is part of the reigning king’s duties to take on and support as many wives as possible.
The queen mother’s courtesans will use the reeds to reinforce the fence that surrounds her compound.
There is symbolism behind this act as well – it is the affirmation and strengthening of womanhood throughout the Swazi kingdom.
While the girls are dancing, the king will drop his shield in front of the ones whose dancing he likes or whose beauty catches his eye.
The official of which ones will become his wives will be made later on in the year… (Yes, this is very generalized but a lot of the African wedding rituals in this region follow this tradition) The groom-to-be first declares his intentions to his father, grandfather, or uncle who then, if he is in agreement, meets with the father of the “intended” bride-to-be.
Gifts include clothes, jewelry, a calabash, and more.She had the option of coming outside, which indicated her interest in him or stay inside.If the woman didn't come out the man left and was forced to find another woman.The elders will then collectively decide if the wedding is to be or not to be.Kola nuts are offered and exchanged to seal the deal as well as to celebrate when the official wedding announcement is made.