Umgubho Wezintombi, the Maidens Ceremony
Umgubho Wezintombi or the Maidens Ceremony is a traditional Zulu event that takes place every year. Young girls participate in the event with the traditional dance of the maidens to celebrate their purity. After the dance, they hope to be chosen as an inclusion in the famous Reed Dance that takes place annually, later in the year. It is an exciting time for young Zulu ladies and is looked forward to throughout the year.
Thousands of young ladies participate in the ceremony, young Zulu ladies from all over the Ugu district take part in the celebrations, most coming from the KwaNyuswa area, it is an exciting time for all!
A week before the ceremony, the young ladies are kept in separate rooms, this is where they will stay until the day of the ceremony. While the ladies are kept away from society for the week, the elder women visit each of the girls and counsel them on traditional values and the practice of etiquette about the cultural coming of age. This is one of the most important times before the ceremony and this time prepares the ladies on an emotional level before the ceremony begins.
This practice is still believed in, very strongly and the girls are expected to dress in traditional wear with traditional beads. Before the ceremony begins, the ladies will begin to sing from within the homestead, this demonstrates that the ladies are still under their parents’ supervision and their guidance, before emerging from the homestead on their path to womanhood. These practices are important in preserving the cultural values that are taught to the ladies throughout their childhood years and play a significant role in the woman they will become.
Once the ceremony has been completed, the whole community gets together and celebrates with a traditional feast of meats and traditional Zulu beer, known as umqombothi. Travellers are invited to come and witness the ceremony and catch a glimpse into the fascinating traditions of the Zulu culture! There are many onlookers every year, and the event is highly recommended for travellers coming to the South Coast.
There are also workshops held that focus on traditional arts and crafts, as well as traditional dance, all of these happen alongside the ceremony and display hundreds of years of artistry and tradition. The ceremony’s main aim is to encourage young ladies to live responsibly and take care of themselves so that they can live in harmony with nature and be able to rely on themselves should they ever need to.
The ceremony takes place every year in July, at KwaNyuswa, Ezinqoleni. The Reed Dance takes place every year at Nyokeni, KwaNongoma, during September. This is a must-see and must experience cultural event! Travellers can keep up to date with the event on numerous social media platforms and through conversing with locals.
The South Coast is filled with tradition and culture, experience one of these ceremonies first-hand and witness the rich history the region has to offer!