About two weeks ago I was sent a video of HRH Sikhanyiso of Swaziland dancing with some of the Swazi maidens she leads as part of the Reed Dance Ceremony. The video shows Sikhanyiso, having fun like any young person her age, she starts off dancing the way girls dance in the traditional Swazi way, then she flows into twerking, and eventually goes onto the floor still in twerk mode, gyrating with a leg in the air. She does this whilst wearing the traditional Swazi emahiya, which does not show her private parts. But it is still deliciously scandalous!
Phansi Nge Patriarchy Phansi!
The reed dance is premised on chastity of girls. Have you noticed how the word “chastity” is mostly related to females? Females must remain pure, of virtue and innocent in thought and deed. And there is heavy judgement on girls seen not to be chaste. Boys don’t receive the same heavy judgement. And yet if we are ever to have equality we need equality to begin with equal expectations.
Princess Sikhanyiso is the eldest child of King Mswati III of Swaziland, the last absolute monarchy in Africa. She is 31 and still unmarried, and therefore remains the leader of the Swazi virgins that come together at the end of winter to gather reeds that are used to refresh the royal household as per ancient custom when royal homesteads were build using natural resources like reed, wood and grass. Off course nowadays, royal households are palatial in nature reminiscent of European palaces.
Interesting how construction of royal homes has changed to reflect modern times but not customs and traditions that oppress women?
The Reed Dance is a ceremony held by the Swazi and the Zulu people and aside from unmarried girls being required to deliver reeds to their King, it is meant to be a ceremony to encourage girls to remain chaste until marriage and to form a sisterhood. In the past girls were checked to ensure they are virgins, although these checks do happen randomly at times, it is no longer the norm. Married and unmarried girls with children may not participate.
There is always controversy around this cultural ceremony; it is mostly based on misunderstanding of this cultural practise, and in some cases abuse of this practise.
Twerking is a sexually suggestive dance; the dancing at the reed dance whilst done by girls showing their breasts and naked buttocks, is not a sexually suggestive dance.
This is why we love Sikhanyiso twerking:
- Unlike the English throne where Princess Charlotte is fourth in line to be Queen of England. – Charlotte is the second child of Prince William, who is second in line to be King – Princess Sikhanyiso is the first-born child of King Mswati and will never be queen of Swaziland.
The only time there is a queen in Swaziland is when there is a Queen Regent, who is usually the Queen Mother of the King. In this day and age why can’t a female child be in line for succession for thrones whether chiefdoms, kingdoms or business?
- Women in Swaziland have fewer rights than most women in other parts of the world. Culturally, a woman is a perpetual minor, in 2018 a woman still cannot request for (khonta) or purchase common land known as Swazi Nation Land, which is administered by Chiefs on behalf of the king. She needs her father, husband, son or brother to do it on her behalf.
- Like most societies in Africa that are organized traditionally under patriarchal chiefs, women do not enjoy much protection against gender-based violence. Gender based violence incidents towards girls and women in Swaziland are disproportionately and unacceptably high. Most women in Swaziland will be experience violence and abuse in their lifetime.
Swaziland is proof that where women are oppressed there is no progress. It has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world, poverty is at 63% and high inequality with a Gini coefficient of 0.52. Swaziland is the 9thmost unequally country in the world, South Africa is the most unequally country with a gini coefficient of 0.63
Keep twerking Princess, you have nothing to lose, and your dance moves could fire up Swazi women to take mass action and demand equality.
Article submitted by AfroBotanics