Entertainment / Celebs And Viral

Adriaan Roets
3 minute read
7 Jan 2015
12:44 pm

Minnie Dlamini defends her family traditions

Adriaan Roets

“Culture is not written down like religion, it is passed down through practice from our forefathers. Thus each family's rituals are unique,” said Minenhle Dlamini following criticism of her Umhlonyane ritual last week. 

Minnie Dlamini dances as part of a traditional Zulu ceremony. Image source: Instagram

Upon posting pictures of the ceremony on Instagram on Saturday, Dlamini received a backlash from the Zulu community. Comments ranged from ‘she was too old to take part in the ceremony’ to ‘she was not educated enough on her culture.’

Umhlonyane is a Zulu traditional ceremony for a girl when she reaches a new stage in her life.

The ceremony requires the girl to spend some time in solidarity, learn from her peers and elders, and to look for a spear which may only be carried by a virgin.

The big criticism comes from Dlamini allegedly confusing Umhlonyane with Umemulo.

Many Zulu commentators on Instagram and Dlamini’s Facebook page pointed out that Umhlonyane was performed once a girl entered womanhood after her first menstruation cycle. According to some commentators, Dlamini celebrated Umemulo, which happens later when a girl is ready for womanhood.

Dlamini said she was ‘insulted’ by the backlash, and posted a response on Facebook to explain why her family chose to perform the ceremony when she was 24-years-old.

“Each family is unique as these rituals are passed down from each family’s forefathers, but they are gunning for a common goal of the ritual.

“When my father, as the head of our Dlamini branch of the family, decided it was time for him and my mother to formally introduce me to the community as a woman, on top of what he knows, as passed down in practice to him by his late father, he appointed a spiritually gifted person to guide the process,” she said.

“Last week was one of the most beautiful times I will ever get to experience as new friendships were forged and old ones reaffirmed, all under the spirit of family and Ubuntu bethu.

“When in hiding (emgonqweni) with izintombi zami (my girls), they were all sharing stories about their Mhlonyane ceremonies and where many of the practices of the ceremony were similar, none of the ceremonies were the same.

Some girls had to look for umkhonto after their uncles hid it. In my case, according to my family practice, I had to go to ko malume Mzwakhe (my maternal uncle) in Claremont, where I had to wait at the gate in song and dance for him to hand me the spear. The spear, according to our ritual, represents the ancestors from my mother’s side of the family.”

On the Umhlonyane and Umemulo debacle, Dlamini makes a clear statement.

“I never knew about Umhlonyane, I only knew of Umemulo and with this process explained to me, according to our family practices, Umemulo takes place when ilobolo has been paid for in full and the spear is provided by the groom.”

It was thus essential for Dlamini to receive the spear, if she ever enters into marriage.

“It is thus that my parents, under the guidance of uMaMpanza, saw fit to perform and host this event for me.” Dlamini stated.

She has since been mute on the matter, but people have still been trolling the presenter’s Instagram feed and Facebook page, although many have come to her defense since she posted her response.