African Culture

The Eswatini’s culture; The Swaziland.

The incwala dance of SwazilandThe incwala dance of Swaziland
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The Eswatini’s culture

Swaziland known also as Eswatini is located in southern Africa; the Swazi culture is the way of life and customs of the people of Swaziland. These involve their music, food, religion, architecture, and kinship, and among many other things. 

The people of Swaziland comprises of various Nguni clans that speaks the Nguni language called siSwati. The indigenous people of Swaziland mostly reside in Eswatini and South Africa. 

In Eswatini, there are so many notable features of cultural identity. The most visible element of all cultural identities is the traditional political structure of the nation and the home. They run a government system that connects the older traditional leadership structures to more modern forms of government. In the Eswatini’s leadership structure, the Ngwenyama—the Lion, or King, is seen as the head of the nation alongside his queen Ndlovukati—the She-Elephant, or Queen Mother. The latter is considered the spiritual leader of the land. National cultural events often involve Ngwenyama or Ndlovukati.

In Swaziland, a group of homes formes a community, and the land they reside is called and considered a chiefdom or umphakatsi. Numerous chiefdoms form an inkhundla, which then stands as a regional division of the country. At home, the family’s patriarch is the head and often practiced polygamy in the past. This patriarch, customarily referred to as umnumzane, is head to all activities of the home. 

In Swaziland, there are cultural events such as Umhlanga, emaganu, and incwala, and they usually take place at the royal residences of the Ngwenyama and Ndlovukati(the King and queen).

The Local cultural events occur in the communities or imiphakatsi, at the residence of the chief (emphakatsini). Other events like Weddings, funerals, and religious activities are always carried out at family homesteads; the neighbors are usually invited to partake in these events. 

The Swazi kinship. 

 

The initial Swazi social unit is the homestead; it is a traditional beehive hut that is thatched with dry grass. They usually run a polygamous home, so, in a polygamous house, each wife has her hut and yard surrounded by reed fences. This homestead comprises three structures: one for sleeping, one for cooking, and one for storage. In larger homes, there are also structures used as bachelors’ quarters and guest accommodation.

At the center of each traditional homestead is a circular area enclosed by large logs inter-spaced with branches. This is the cattle byre or kraal; the cattle byre has a practical significance; it stands as a store of wealth and a symbol of each homestead’s prestige. It contains sealed grain pits. Adjacent to the cattle byre stands the great hut occupied by the mother of the headman of the home. 

The headman is central to all homestead affairs, and he is often polygamous. He leads through example. He is work to advise his wives on all social affairs of the home as well as seeing to the larger survival of the family. He also spends time socializing with the young boys, who are often his sons or close relatives, advising them on growing up and manhood expectations.



The diviners 

A sangoma of Swaziland.
A sangoma of Swaziland

A traditional diviner, known as the Sangoma, is chosen by the ancestors of a particular family. The Sangoma undergoes training that is called “kwetfwasa.” When the training ends, there’s a graduation ceremony that occurs during this ceremony, all the local Sangoma come together for feasting and dancing. The newly graduated diviner is consulted for various reasons: the cause of sickness, or even the cause of death. His diagnosis is based on what is called “kubhula,” its a process of communication, communication through trance, with the natural super-powers that he is supposed to possess as a sangoma. The Inyanga, a medical and pharmaceutical specialist in western terms, possesses the bone throwing skill called “kushaya ematsambo,” which is used to determine the cause of the sickness.

The incwala

The incwala dance of Swaziland
The incwala dance of Swaziland

The Incwala ceremony is the most important cultural event in Eswatini. Incwala is often translated in English as the ‘first fruits ceremony,’ It takes place on the fourth day after the full moon nearest the longest day, 21 December. The King’s tasting of the new harvest is just one aspect among many in this long pageant. Incwala, therefore, is best translated as the Kingship Ceremony. Because when there is no king, there is no Incwala. In Eswatini, It is considered high treason for any other person to hold an Incwala, it’s an abomination. 

Every Swazi person can take part in the public sections of the Incwala ceremony. But on the climax of the event, which is the fourth day of the Big Incwala. The key figures are the royalties, the King, Queen Mother, royal wives and children, the royal governors (indunas), the chiefs, the regiments, and the “bemanti” or “water people.” 

Umhlanga
The incwala dance of Swaziland.
The Umhlanga dance of Swaziland.

The Umhlanga reed dance is the Eswatini’s best-known cultural event. It is an eight-day ceremony, Swazi girls cut reeds and present them to the queen mother during this ceremony and then dance. It takes place in late August or sometimes early September. It’s only childless and unmarried girls that can take part. Preserving girls’ chastity, providing tribute labor for the Queen-mother, and encouraging solidarity by working together are the aims of this ceremony. 

The royal family appoints an ordinary maiden to be “induna” (captain) of the girls; the appointed maiden announces the dates of the ceremony over the radio. She has to be an expert dancer and also knowledgeable on royal protocol. One of the King’s daughters will be her counterpart for the ceremony. 

The Reed Dance today is not an ancient ceremony but a development of the old “umchwasho” custom. The country was under the chastity rite of “umchwasho” until 19 August 2005. In “umchwasho” custom, all young girls are placed in a female age-regiment. If any girl becomes pregnant outside of marriage, her family will pay a fine of one cow to the local chief of that chiefdom. After several years, when the girls reached a marriageable age, they would perform labor service for the Queen Mother, ending it with dancing and feasting. 


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Francis Chidera
the authorFrancis Chidera
Popularly known as Chokolate is a content creator. A lover of simplified words making it easy to get to a wider audience. It pains to see that Africans are forgetting and neglecting who they are, hence, I am passionate about reminding us of our culture. I work with 54history on the African culture category, to achieve this aim.

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