Young Women in Contemporary Zulu Society

by Sandra Klopper
University of Cape Town

Young Zulu women practicing songs and dances beneath a large tent near the king’s residence, South Africa. Photo by Sandra Klopper.

On the morning of the annual Reed Ceremony, girls between the ages of ten and sixteen arrive at the king's royal homestead in buses hired to transport them up to 200 miles to participate in the event. Once they get to the king's residence, these girls retire to a large marquee erected in preparation for their arrival, where they practice the songs and dances they perform for the king in the afternoon. Each group of girls is led by one of the older girls from their district, who dances ahead of them. Towards midday, she allows her followers a short rest before they sit down in the shade of the marquee to eat a simple lunch provided for them by the king's household.