National Geographic : 1978 Jan
Zulu King Weds a Swazi Princess TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY VOLKMAR WENTZEL FOREIGN EDITORIAL STAFF THE SINGING reaches a crescendo of joy. Into the royal cattle enclosure of the Zulus dances a column of Swazi women. Leading the way, regal in her headdress of widow-bird feathers and cape of ox tails, Princess Mantfombi (left) breaks into a radiant smile. Red wing feathers of the touraco around her forehead and a shining sword in the hand mark her as a daughter of King Sobhuza II of Swaziland. Twice the princess and her maidens circle the kraal, located near Nongoma, in KwaZulu, South Africa (map, following page). After each turn, as voices rise, the princess drives a spearlike assegai into the earth, thereby placing herself under the protection of her husband-to-be, Goodwill Zwelithini, King of the Zulus. Not since the early 19th century had the Swazi and Zulu royal houses been united in marriage. The June 1977 wedding revived age-old rituals notyet surrendered to the rush of time, and it created family bonds between the traditionally powerful Zulus within South Africa and their politically indepen dent Swazi neighbors to the north.