Photos of Swazi Celebrations, Swaziland

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Swazi Celebrations

Swazi people cherish their traditions and it is quite common to come across celebrations where large groups of people in full traditional costume participate.

Dancing towards the
Dancing in the
Traditional wedding
Women and girls dancing
Unmarried girls dance
Dance at wedding
Dance with bride
Young warriors
Young people's dance
Young girls dancing
Singing at a wedding
Woman's dance
Bride and bridesmaids
Bizarre costume
Boy dancing
Woman singing
Dancing at wedding
Children dancing
Girl dancing
Regiment arrives
Getting wooden poles
Building a sibaya
Delivering wooden poles
Bringing wooden poles
Poles for sibaya
For cattle enclosure
Dancing warriors
Boy with pole
Warrior's dance
Boys marching
Marching regiment
The king's arrival
Open air wedding

The traditional Swazi wedding of Prince Mfanasibili, one of the sons of King Sobhuza II, was held at Luve, to the north west of Manzini. There was dancing by large groups of married women, recognisable with their "sicolo" beehive hairstyle, all in "sidvwaba" skin skirts, who were joined by the new bride. Young unmarried girls danced, bare breasted, in their short "indlamu" bead skirts, carrying small shields and the young men, carrying large cowhide shields and "sakila" or knobkerrie fighting sticks marched, singing old warrior songs, surging forward, joining the girls; individual men would lope towards a particular girl who was dancing especially well and slam their shield on the ground in front of her, as an appreciation.

Not all weddings are as traditional as the one for royalty; in Mangwaneni village, just outside Mbabane, was a wedding where the bride and groom were dressed in European wedding gown and suit but which still featured lots of traditional dancing and singing, especially by women and girls, a curious mixture of two cultures. And a complete open-air wedding of a young American couple, who worked as Peace Corps Volunteers in Swaziland, took place in the hills above Mbabane.

Mangwaneni is actually a small Royal village where one of the King's daughters lives; and when work needs to be done everyone comes to help. On this occasion a "sibaya" or cattle byre had to be built and a large group of men, in their traditional Swazi "emabutfo" regiments came to bring the materials for this. There was lots of singing and dancing the old warriors songs, like the "iNqaba kaNqofula", a praise song for the King. The regiments marched, preceded by a man blowing a horn, and even groups of young boys, carrying fighting sticks, were marching and singing in the old way.