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The Annual Zulu Reed Festival

Once a year, in the heart of South Africa’s Kingdom of the Zulu, thousands of people make the long journey to one of His Majesty, the King of the Zulu Nation’s, King Goodwill Zwelethini’s royal residence at KwaNyokeni Palace.

Once a year, in the heart of South Africa’s Kingdom of the Zulu, thousands of people make the long journey to one of His Majesty, the King of the Zulu Nation’s, King Goodwill Zwelethini’s royal residence at KwaNyokeni Palace. Here, in Nongoma, early every September month, young Zulu maidens will take part in a colourful cultural festival, the Royal Reed Dance festival - or Umkhosi woMhlanga in the Zulu language.

For visitors to KwaZulu-Natal, one of South Africa’s most popular tourist destinations, the Reed Dance festival offers the unique opportunity to experience the natural beauty and majesty of the Kingdom of the Zulus, combined with the vibrant spectacle of Zulu cultural life. The road to the Reed Dance festival runs north from the city of Durban, and winds through the green lushness of the North Coast sugar-belt, skirting through the Kingdom’s world-renowned wildlife reserves of Zululand and Maputaland.

Finally, it leads into the gently rolling hills and valleys of Zululand, a landscape rich with the silent memories of the heroic clashes of the Anglo-Zulu War, which took place more than 100 years ago.

Steeped in the history of the rise of the Zulu kingdom, under the great King Shaka, the Reed Dance festival has been tirelessly celebrated by countless generations, and attracts thousands of visitors from throughout the country and across the world. A dignified traditional ceremony, the Reed Dance festival is at the same time, a vibrant, festive occasion which depicts the rich cultural heritage of the Kingdom of the Zulu and celebrates the proud origin of the Zulu people.

Ritual Celebration

The Reed Dance is a celebration of the Zulu nation and performs the essential role of unifying the nation and the king, who presides over the ceremony. The festival takes its name from the riverbed reeds, which are the central focus of this four-day event. The reed-sticks are carried in a procession by thousands of young maidens who are invited to the King’s palace each year. More than 10 000 maidens, from various communities throughout the province of KwaZulu- Natal, take part in the Reed Dance ceremony, with the rest of the Zulu nation helping them to celebrate their preparation for womanhood. It is a great honour for the young women to be invited to take part in the Reed Dance ceremony, and it’s also a source of great dignity and pride for their families and communities. According to Zulu traditon, only virgins are permitted to take part in the festival to ensure that they are ritually ‘pure’.

For a brochure on the Zulu Kingdom please call the UK office for Tourism KwaZulu-Natal on (01403) 243 619 or visit www.zulu.org.za.

Please contact The Independent Traveller on 01628 522772 or e mail reservations@independenttraveller.com to reserve your place, indicating whether you wish us to book International flights for you.


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