Dance the Night Away

In African festivals, dance provides a way to relay historical and cultural events through costumes, masks, body paint, and gestures. The Royal Reed Dance is an annual Swazi and Zulu event that draws 25,000 unmarried and childless girls and women to King Goodwill Zwelithini’s royal palace for the eight-day ceremony in South Africa. The colorful event puts on display the women and girls as they sing and dance, adorned with handmade beadwork, in a tribute to the king to ensure his continued power over the Zulu people. It’s a display that’s graceful and beautiful, but it’s also a great honor for the girls and women to be invited to participate in the Royal Reed Dance. Though some of the more traditional testing requirements, like chastity testing and the age restriction associated with traditional dancing now draw criticism, the festival is a cultural celebration that pays tribute to Zulu origin stories, while educating the participants about appropriate behavior in the culture. The Royal

Women prepare for the Royal Reed Dance.

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