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MBANGWENI – Spellbinding performances by energetic maidens were the highlight of the annual Shiselweni Reed Dance ceremony which came to an end yesterday evening.

The two-day event was an overwhelming success, with good participation and a few incidents to report throughout its duration.
The audience, together with the maidens, seemed better prepared for the bone-marrow chilling weather which was accompanied by light rain – considered a blessing from the heavens above, by the country’s authorities. Some vendors did their part too, making ample tea available at different stalls and tents pitched outside the dancing arena.
Tea was a priority, particularly wh- en temperatures were very low on Saturday. A cup sold for E4, according to Futhi Makhanya, a vendor from around Mbangweni. Notwithstanding the chill, Hlangabeza Mdluli, acting imbali overseer, said the turnout of people exceeded their expectations.
The crowd of about 500 ballooned to 800 on the main day of dancing (yesterday), as the weather conditions showed a slight improvement.The splendid performance by the maidens, led by Inkhosatana Sikhanyiso, must have helped to keep the crowds engaged.
Much the same way as they did on Saturday, the regiment of about 3 000 maidens entered the dancing space just before 3pm yesterday afternoon; and the solid crowd helped to bolster their confidence as they pounded the ground with vigour and regaled the spectators with their rhythmic dance moves.
The performance of the imbali from royalty, which had the Inkhosatana in the forefront, swept up accolades, and spectators said it was an amazing way to finish off this year’s colourful and meaningful cultural event.
The maidens seemed very excited dancing before His Majesty King Mswati III, who was equally delighted as it could be seen by the great smile he wore as the girls performed in separate groups.

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