MBANGWENI – It wouldn’t have been a complete Shiselweni Reed Dance without the biting cold.
For the past four years, the constant feature has been the low temperatures, but on Saturday, as the temperatures were high, people assumed that maybe for the first time in many years, the Shiselweni Umhlanga Ceremony would be hot.
However, this was not to be as the temperatures were once again very low. Even the cold got to His Majesty King Mswati III because as soon as he took his seat, he was handed over a long black coat, which he wore throughout the proceedings. However, the low temperatures did not deter the maidens from giving their best as they danced impressively.
This was particularly the case with the uniformed forces, who include the Royal Eswatini Police Service, Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force and maidens from His Majesty’s Correctional Services who danced as if the temperatures were very high.
However, it was easy to spot that some of the maidens were feeling the cold and they were literally shaking and others sought refuge under the tent, which was reserved for members of the public. Although the VIP area had heaters installed, a majority of the guests would from time to time complain about the cold.
Some of the maidens, however, stopped dancing and simply observed the dances of their colleagues.
This was despite the fact that the programme director of the day, Wendy Hleta, would advise them to dance so that they could generate some heat.
Despite the unforgiving temperatures though, guests stayed throughout the proceedings and they were not disappointed as the likes of Princess Sikhanyiso gave it their best despite being half dressed as per the traditional dress.
Women, particularly members of Lutsango, came well prepared as they wore knee length boots and also carried blankets which they used to cover themselves.
The only comfort that the girls and guests had was that the rain had decided to keep away. “It’s freezing out here and I am not going back to dance because I already have a runny nose,” remarked a 14-year-old pupil from KaNkonjwa Primary School, adding, “Besides, I was really disappointed this year because the free sneakers ran out before our turn. It is one of my worst reed dances.”