So I’ve read a whole lot of comments pertaining to the Sunday-South African festival, which comes up annually,around mid-September, attracting over 30,000 tourists from across the globe. Various comments have rushed in from across the world, stating how barbaric and indecent such traditions and cultures are and it’s unhealthy psychological effects on children. Nevertheless, South-Africans have defended their women and their culture as well, thrashing all form of verbal abuse reigned on them on social media by the so called “ignorant lot” who knew nothing about their culture and heritage. However, before I give my opinion on this very festival, let me quickly brief you about it;
The festival is said to be a celebration of virginity organised by the King of Zulu. You know, in much the same way as the festival of Dionysus in Athens. Well except this particular festival happens at the Enyokeni Royal Palace in Nongoma which is located in the KwaZulu-Natal province in the northeastern part of the Republic of South Africa. During this festival, about 1,000 virgin girls proceed to the King’s palace to dance for him. The virgin girls are known as “imbali” in the Zulu language and they are led to a river bud by the princess to cut a Reed. The Reed cane is believed to be the symbol of their virginity.The girls wear the izigege’ and ‘izinculuba’ traditional attire ,‘ which is a short skirt that displays their bottoms, while their upper body, including their breast is left naked to the view of spectators and tourists.They also put on anklets, bracelets, necklaces, and colorful sashes of different colors,denoting whether or not a certain girl was betrothed to a man or not. Having collected the reed, they return to the king’s palace wherein he admonishes them on the subject of virginity and in most cases he selects new brides among them, adding to his list of wives.
In my opinion, it is true that it is essential to uphold our cultures and tradition as they are a reminder of our past and whence we arrived. Festivals in general give us a sense of belonging and breeds togetherness. It brings to our reckoning our humble heritage and the need to remain united. Nevertheless, we must also be mindful of the fact that these very cultures are man-made and if and when they begin to pose a threat in any way to our lives, morals or our society at large then we must have a rethink. The semi nakedness and sometimes full-nakedness of the girls, especially at the river is a source of disturbance not only to the principles of modesty of a young woman but also to her dignity. It is no news that tourists cease the opportunity to take pictures of the girls to publish on pornographic sites and magazines.
The questions I believe any reasonable lady should ask herself are, “What brought about this very festival? Why the girl child? Is this some sort of sport whence people are entertained by spectating naked girls? Isn’t this a higher level of Pornography? How does this affect the boy child psychologically?” And then perhaps, “Wouldn’t such a practice aggravate the already skyrocketing rape cases in South Africa?”