The death of the Zulu king in South Africa has caused pain. But the passing of Goodwill Zwelithini has shone the spotlight on an incredible tradition of the Zulu people.
The sights and sounds of the zulu culture is just a breathtaking sight to behold. Bare-breasted women in elaborate necklaces and headbands sang and danced as they paraded through the small town to the palace several kilometres away, joining mourners as they accompany the body of their late king.
"It is important to me (to be a Zulu maiden) because that is where I found my identity as a Zulu woman. This is where I’ve learned about my culture, it is where I also tackled my own personal issues about, like, such as body image issues, low self-esteem. This is where I conquered all that because when you are here nobody cares about your body size, your body shape", Gugulethu Chonco, a Zulu maiden said.
From the crown of their heads to the feet, one will not miss the heavy sounds their ornaments produce. And men donning leopard skin are not left out. They chant, sing and dance.
"As our king has passed away we are crying. We don’t know where are going to go. The sun has gone down because our king was everything to us, each and everything. He was always saying 'my people have to come first", traditional healer, Michael Andile Dlamini said.
The procession accompanies the body of the Zulu King, the late leader of South Africa’s largest ethnic group to the royal palace. It’s another journey ahead of his burial.
Zwelithini's body will later be moved to a freshly built grass hut outside the main house before burial.
The intimate ceremony, to be conducted behind closed doors by a select few men, is referred to as a "planting".