Sunday 2024-04-14




By MBONO MDLULI | 2023-01-22

Thousands of Emaswati and other members of the public braved yesterday’s scorching heat (31 degrees Celsius) to be witnessess while His Majesty King Mswati III dispersed Emabutfo (regiments), marking the end of this year’s Incwala Ceremony.

The dispersing of Emabutfo took place at Ngabezweni Royal Residence, which was a hive of activity from morning yesterday.

The King started addressing Emabutfo at about 2:50pm, thanking them for supporting the event from start to end. In his address, which took 24 minutes and 50 seconds, the King encouraged Emabutfo to continue observing cultural practices, like Incwala, which identified them as Emaswati.

By 12:15pm, some Ingatja from the Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF) were seen running at a high speed from the vicinity of the royal residence, towards the entrance of the residence.

They were clad in traditional regalia, with dark-green T-shirts from their organisation. This signalled the start of different traditional dances, which are usually done when the King is about to address Emabutfo. At about 1pm, the Ingatja from the army was seen entering the royal residence in high spirits, as they sang traditional songs, showing their happiness to be part of this event. As they sang, they ran slowly (but with vigour) towards the arena, just in front of the cattle byre.

That is where the traditional dances usually take place and that is where the King usually addresses Emabutfo. At this time, the Ingatja from the army was followed by other from the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) and His Majesty’s Correctional Services (HMCS). Other members of Ingatja from different parts of the country followed.

However, the Ingatja was not alone, other regiments from the armed forces also followed suit, as they sang and ran slowly towards the arena. They were clad in their traditional regalia, carrying shields and knobkerries (tagila).

The regiments included uniformed Emabutfo from the three armed forces, as well as those from Eswatini National Fire and Emergency Services (ENFES). Members of other Emabutfo, like Inyatsi yaMswati and Bokhololo (religious leaders), also took part in the event.

Other Emabutfo, such as Lutsango and Imbali, were at the royal residence, but were not part of the regiments who were vigorously singing  traditional songs at the arena. When arriving at the arena, the regiments started forming a circular enclosure, where they sang in high spirits.
 This traditional dance is known as Kuhlehla.

This event continued for about 30 minutes and after that, the regiments formed a C-shaped enclosure, getting ready for the arrival of the King. The enclosure faced the cattle byre. At that moment, His Majesty arrived being accompanied by a huge entourage of regiments.
His arrival was met with continuous sounds of whistles from the regiments. The singing of traditional songs never stopped at any moment.

They only stopped when the King addressed the regiments. The King started inspecting the different regiments, who were standing in groups on the ‘boundary’ of the C-shaped yard. The King inspected the groups by moving in front of them, waving his hand with a smile.
Each group shouted ‘Bayethe!! Wena Waphakathi!!’ upon being inspected.

After the inspection, which ended at about 1:30 pm, the Umgubho  dance commenced.  This traditional dance lasted for more than an hour. During this dance, the regiments would sing slowly, without movement this time, but they showed that they enjoyed the songs and they knew them very well, even though it was difficult to hear the lyrics. Female regiments also took part in the event, while standing just next to the cattle byre.

After that, the regiments were ordered to squat and did some traditional dances, while squatting. After all those events, the King marched to the podium, which was just before the cattle byre, to address the regiments.

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