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The Zulu Reed Dance
By Lebohang Mojapelo Feb 16, An academic bursary awarded to young women who can prove they are virgins sparked debate in South Africa. What is virginity and is it possible to test for it? When a KwaZulu-Natal municipality introduced an academic bursary for young women who could prove that they were virgins, it caused an uproar earlier this year. The practice of virginity testing has always been contentious, with several calls to ban it over the years. Each time, the same questions arise. How is virginity inspection conducted and by whom?
Nomagugu Ngobese first shooed the cows away from a shady spot at the base of a ridge. She was looking for as much privacy as possible. She laid down a grass mat, positioned three women holding up two blankets as screens and signaled that it was time to begin. Nearly 30 girls and young women from this village on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg, none older than 18, most between 11 and 14, giggled and jostled to form a rough line. Then, one by one, they disappeared behind the blankets, lay down and submitted to an examination to determine whether they were virgins. As the first one emerged from behind the blankets, her panties still in her hand, the others ululated and shouted their enthusiasm. The practice of testing virginity, a ritual that died out here decades ago, is being revived.
Zululand Eco-Adventures does a fully guided tour of this amazing celebration, email info eshowe. The cost of the tour is R, which includes a light picnic lunch. Press and VIP access can be arranged, please enquire well in advance. Click for directions.