The other day we woke up to a startling headline that was published on one of the local daily publications sighting a pregnant maiden (Imbali) having actually given birth as the regiments were being dispersed after the ceremony. The maiden is said to have delivered her “bundle of joy” in one of the designated ablution facilities after having complained to her medical attendants of stomach pains and diarrhea.
The Umhlanga ceremony celebrates the chastity and purity of a young girl as she grows up. It also encourages the maidens to remain pure until they wed. In light of this incident however, should there be pregnancy tests carried out on Imbali?
Virginity testing was somewhat of a “borrowed” tradition from our neighboring South African tribe, the Zulu tribe. It was practiced by Swazis in the 1800s and early 1900s in order to test for a maidens purity. Reasons for implementing the testing process is because the Annual Umhlanga ceremony is said to be one that only virgin maidens may participate in. the conundrum here would be, since it is apparent that some maidens who participate in the reed dance are sexually active, will testing for pregnancy cast a shadow of doubt on the true essence of the ceremony?
Human Rights and other opposing groups may even shun Swaziland for imposing pregnancy tests to be conducted on the maidens and possibly even poke holes on the fiber that makes up the elements of the Umhlanga Ceremony. Will testing for pregnancy amongst the maiden be worth the possible noise that might surround the act? if so, how then will we be able to marry the Swazi custom of the allowing only virgin maidens to participate in the ceremony with the finding ourselves in the position of having to test for pregnancy?
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