06 May, 2008 15:47
Today I had a very interesting Tutorial discussion today, which made me want to do this blog. It is pretty amazing at how little we know about each others cultures. For all those who do not know what the Reed Dance is then you’re in luck.
Once a year, thousands of people travel His Majesty’s, the King of the Zulu nation'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.
Reed Dance festival offers the unique opportunity to experience the natural beauty and majesty of the Kingdom of the Zulu, combined with the vibrant spectacle of Zulu cultural life. It’s not just about the virginity testing. It is a great honour to you and your family to be invited to the Reed Dance. According to this age old tradition, only virgins are allowed to take part in this festival to ensure that they are ritually 'pure'.
Upon further research I discovered an article about a 31 year old virgin woman, who says she is proud to be a virgin and she attends the testing as it gives her self-esteem as a woman.
But some people are opposing, this age old tradition, with claims like: the practice is sexist and outdated and can even increase the chances of Aids - given the widely held misconception that unprotected sex with a virgin is safe or can cure Aids. Human rights activists say virginity testing is demeaning. But I fail to see its demeaning nature; maybe I am narrow minded. These girls practice this ritual on their own free will and are proud to do so. It can be argued that don’t have the luxury of choice and are compelled into doing it.
The Reed dance is not only about the virginity testing. Girls are also taught how to deal with rape, which is at epidemic levels in South Africa. People fail to see the bigger picture. Just like Xhosa circumcision, it’s not only about the job of cutting away the fore skin; there are lessons to be learnt, lessons on manhood and such. It is human nature to see what we want to see; sometimes you have to take a deeper look at something in order to fully understand it.