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Zulu reed dance ceremony to focus on gender-based violence

Umkhosi woMhlanga is held annually in celebration of Zulu maidens and it’s historically been used to promote sexual abstinence by young women to reduce HIV transmission.

FILE: Ceremonial reeds are carried by maidens during the reed dance ceremony in September 2014 at the eNyokeni Royal Palace in Nongoma. Picture: AFP.

DURBAN - The scourge of gender-based violence will take centre stage at this year’s annual Umkhosi woMhlanga festivities.

The Zulu royal household said this came against the backdrop of recent worrying incidents of attacks on women, most notably the uMthwalume murders on the south coast.

Umkhosi woMhlanga is held annually in celebration of Zulu maidens and it’s historically been used to promote sexual abstinence by young women to reduce HIV transmission.

The Umkhosi woMhlanga ceremony is usually attended by well over 20,000 maidens but this year’s event has been set up to accommodate a maximum of 50 people in line with lockdown regulations.

“But the maidens are expected to observe this important day at their respective homes,” said Zulu royal household spokesperson Prince Thulani Zulu.

He said this year’s event - which takes place on Saturday - will be unique.

“This year the reed dance ceremony will not focus on the usual things, but we will also focus on gender-based violence. Instead of his majesty being presented with the reeds as is the norm, he will be presented with a placard that talks against the abuse of women.”

Zulu said the event would be streamed live on social media platforms to accommodate the thousands who could not attend.