Published: February 4th 2007January 9th 2007
The king's warriors in their full costume during the Incwala Ceremony.
Swaziland was a lucky country.
Our first lucky moment didn't have to wait us enter the country. Al thought Brazilians need a visa and they are not issued at the border, we managed to get in without one. As we arrive very late, the border gates were closed and they didn't have any options but to let us in. Amandine of course, with her french passport didn't have the same problem. Sometimes we get really jealous.... hehehe.
And amazing as it may sound, we didn't have to wait 24 hours to have our second lucky moment. After waking up late next day (common after late night adventures)
we went to the hostel reception to inquire what we could do in the city. For our surprise on that afternoon was going on the "Incwala". The "Festival of the First Fruits", first of the two annual royal ceremonies held in the kings house. Yes, we got to visit the king's house. Ok, not inside the house, but the garden.
On the 4th day of "Incwala" (the most interesting day of the six, for the tourists of course, and the one we participate)
, all the male tribe members dress in their
A bit of the spirit of the Incwala ceremony outside the royal byre.
traditional war clothes, made of ox hide and leopard skin, to proclamate themselves "Warriors of the King" using a traditional dance.
Inside the Royal cattle Byre, in a kind of sang-prayer, the warriors dance in the presence of the king, his 12 wives, the tribe women. In the middle of the Byre, dance the virgins in tiny traditional costumes with naked breasts. Yes, you did understand it correctly, topless virgins dancing for the tribe men (and us... hehehe)
. Amandine and Bek were in the lady's side during the dance and by the time we met them again, they had received more them two mariage proposals each. But wasn't dificult to convince them not to accept... hehehe.
We found the people from Swaziland very friendly (the ghost of apartheid wasn't here to make relations white an black difficult like in south Africa)
and open hearted, we couldn't find one single local that weren't more than happy to bring us explanations of the meaning of every detail of the "Incwala" ceremony (exception to the guy that wanted to apprehend our camera telling us that we were not supposed to take pictures (yes, we know that inside the byre we are not
suposed to, but we were outside), while everybody else was taken lots of them)
Preparation for the "Incwala". This is the place where the King's warriors prepare themselfs for the ceremony.
. The country has a beautiful landscape, with mountains and flats evenly distributed, is also so small that took us 20 minutes from the border to the capital city, that's almost in the center of the country.
As part of the trip we had some funny moments, in Swaziland our funniest happened when we were driving to the Incwala ceremony. The references we had was to go straight a few kilometers after the Pic'n Pay supermarket. When we asked on the streets of Mbabane (the capital)
for that supermarket, people pointed us a direction leaving the city and said to go on. For our surprise we left the city and people keep telling to go further. At the next city the references were the same: Keep going. Three cities after we found the supermarket, and realize that it was the only one in the country and everybody knew it even from other cities!
In the following days, we drove around visiting local handcrafts manufactures where Amandine bought gifts for the hole France!