By Prophet LaNdwandwe a.k.a Joy-Dumsile Ndwandwe
Ancient Swaziland has always celebrated August as women’s month; the Umhlanga ceremony marks the end of women’s months’ celebration.
The Umhlanga ceremony is Swaziland’s celebration of maidens who since the previous year have upheld the value of self respect, chastity and self-preservation.
To fully understand this ceremony, we must reflect on the connection between women and maidens and umhlanga, the reed which are collected for this sacred ceremony. Professor Herbert Vilakazi stated thus:
“According to Nguni history/mythology we are told that life emerged out of a reed (umhlanga), that the first to emerge was a woman with a baby on her back. In another region of Africa, we are told life emerged out of deep expansive waters, and the first to emerge was a woman with a man on her back!
YES…and the first living merciful Deity known to Zulus is NOMKHUBULWANE, the daughter of God … the goddess we get close to, with whom we converse, in front of whom we cry, plead and sing, for rain, who at the end issues the RAINBOW! (Mazisi Kunene, Anthem of The Decades).
“In early Christianity, Woman was honoured all over Europe as Mother of the Saviour. (Ean Begg, the Cult of the Black Virgin)”
‘Kushuqa Kwetintfombi Temhlanga’ our maiden’s pilgrimage must be understood from the Nguni history or mythology as a pilgrim to the source of life, the reed.
Maidens as our future source of life for generations to come must embark on this pilgrimage to emerge with feminine power as worthy regiments who will educate our future generation integrity, and moral principles and values.
A mhlanga maiden is on a journey of transformation towards being a worthy regiment committed to self-respect, chastity and self-preservation whilst waiting to becoming future mothers and women with power and influence in nation building and moral preservation.
The maiden’s pilgrimage march is an affirmation to the belief that simplicity is royalty; which is part of their test of character on endurance required by future mothers and women. Hence they march to the reeds our mythological and ancient source of humanity; to emerge with the reeds from the deep waters as a symbol of reviving feminine power, the source of wisdom for all future mothers and women.
The reeds are used to build ‘amaguma’ ‘the shields’ for our traditional homesteads; creating awareness to our maidens on how they are future custodians of our indigenous values, ethos and morality intended to shield homesteads, communities and the nation.
Therefore umhlanga ceremony must be enjoyed by the nation with pride and joy marking the end of women’s month; and the day when our maidens celebrate their renewal of feminine power whilst also affirming their commitment to self-preservation, chastity and self respect.
It is unfortunate that our umhlanga ceremony has been turned into a superficial tourisms event for viewing breast and bums; without focusing on its ancient teachings of self-preservation, chastity, and self respect which is taught to worthy regiments.
These teachings are based on the understanding that in traditional society when a baby is being born, there is a woman, and in a room of a dead person there is woman; hence birth and death were handled by women as only women are deep.
The depth of women can also be expressed through their biological design; God designed women as inverted men, the ovaries are similar to testicles, whilst their urinary canal is similar to the penis, and most significantly both the penis and vagina end in interestingly similar pattern.
The parallel of women being inverted men creates a base for complementary relationships, roles and responsibilities between men and women.
Our Umhlanga maidens must understand their complementary relationship with men in order for them to be worthy mothers and women in the future; through spending their maiden days being committed to self-respect, chastity and self preservation. This creates future mothers and women who can manage disruptive emotions and impulses; as they are not enslaved by impulsive feelings and distressing emotions.
Umhlanga creates maidens who will be futures mothers and women who are not preoccupied with illusions of their own grandeur and gluttony; as they marched on the pilgrimage of feminine power based on principle, value and ethos of simplicity is royalty.
disappearance of values
This principle, value and ethos is critical as we are living in an era of disappearance of values as we have evolved from the century of Enlightenment, where we led ourselves to be drawn into undermining our own value systems; as this era can be best characterised as ‘there is only one morality just as there is only one geometry.’
After this era we went on to believing in philosophical, religions and artistic faith based on Truth, Goodness and Beauty; which has created crises in our values resulting in misfortunes such as our maidens becoming sexual objects and porn’s to fulfill their personal and family materialism.
Maidens must understand that the Umhlanga pilgrimage is their rite of passage to their feminine power; hence they must view themselves as equal to men and not sources of tantalising and satisfying greed, gluttony and the illusion of grandeur.
The best way to summarise our moral, principles, values and ethos crisis of values during the 20th Century is that they were influenced by model of the stock market; as there were no fixed standard value, no stable and absolute measure, but rather all values fluctuate in a vast market, their quotations rising and falling according to wholly subjective crazes, panics and wagers.
The value of the mind was hence no different to the value of commodities and unfortunately it continues to fall in a phenomenon fashion; resulting in social ills such as human trafficking, transactional sex, intergenerational sex and most significantly incest.
This moral decay reflects how our women-men relationships were and continue to be driven by aesthetic values; which unfortunately are based on frivolous and illusionary belief systems such as beauty, body, bums, breasts, commodities, money, entitlement and greed.
These belief systems are unfortunately short term trends, implying that our women-men relationships are short term, based on crazes, cravings and most significantly temporary illusionary feelings of lust and irresponsible behaviour.
Lastly, umhlanga is about empowering maidens with principles, values and ethos, which can result in a nation of HIV and AIDS negative citizens, non-materialism, no incest, no rape, no sex workers, no abuse, no gender-based violence; no human trafficking and most significantly create women of prominence who are achievement driven, hence excellent nation builders.
Finally our maiden’s traditional dress during the umhlanga ceremony is by no means soft porn; but it symbolises the nation’s pride and joy on the maidens that have upheld the morals, principles and values of self-respect, self-preservation and most significantly chastity.
Swaziland’s reed dance is not soft porn
By Prophet LaNdwandwe a.k.a Joy-Dumsile Ndwandwe