The eNyokeni Royal Palace in Nongoma, KwaZulu-Natal, was this Saturday abuzz with activities as thousands of maidens wearing their colourful traditional attire prepare to present the reed before AmaZulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini.
The ceremony was revived by the late King Goodwill Zwelithini in 1984 as a way to fight social problems facing young girls, including teenage pregnancy and HIV/Aids.
The ceremony is the culmination of regular camps, during which positive values are instilled.
These include lessons on womanhood, how to value themselves, and becoming independent adults.
With threats of bloody violence leading up to the annual uMkhosi woMhlanga (reed dance) at the Royal Palace of eNyokeni in KwaNongoma, northern KZN concerns have been raised about the safety of throngs of people expected to grace the historic and significant ceremony.
The faction supporting self-proclaimed AmaZulu king Simakade kaZwelithini has vowed that hell will break loose should those supporting King MisuZulu kaZwelithini go ahead with the planned ceremony at eNyokeni.
Prince Simakade believes he is in charge of eNyokeni after he held his own ukungena esibayeni (entering the kraal) ritual at the palace, where he was declared king.
Prince Thulani Zulu, speaking on behalf of those supporting King MisuZulu kaZwelithini, said all the palaces belong to the reigning king, and added that the reed dance ceremony will go ahead as planned.
“We hope that government and law-enforcement agencies view the threats in serious light, and as such everything will be done to monitor and detect anything that could be a potential harm to people attending the reed dance,” he said.
This week, Prince Simakade made an urgent application at the Pretoria High Court where he asked the court to declare the decision by President Cyril Ramaphosa to recognise his younger brother, King MisuZulu kaZwelithini, the duly monarch of AmaZulu invalid.
Prince Mandlakapheli Zulu, the spokesperson for Prince Simakade, said the ceremony should not go ahead because the kingship is still in dispute and in a state of disarray.
He added that Prince Simakade’s faction has visited former president Jacob Zuma to ask for his intervention with the hope that Zuma’s presence will mend hostile relations in the royal house.
On Thursday, Prince Simakade and his backers are expected to address the AmaZulu nation and the media on developments leading up to the reed dance, which begins on Friday.
Thousands of bare-breasted virgins across the country and the neighbouring countries attend the annual ceremony which was temporarily halted when Covid-19 reached the South African shores early in 2020.