Young virgins have been performing the Zulu Royal Reed Dance for centuries wearing nothing but beads and short fringed skirts. But now King Goodwill Zwelithini has told the girls to put on sarongs or traditional undergarments called umuntsha to cover their buttocks. And the King added: "There are times when maidens have to sing and dance and we end up seeing certain private body parts that we're not supposed to see. Locals are said to be fed up of "lascivious" male tourists who "act like paparazzi" and "zoom in on bare flesh with their hi-tech cameras. Zulus say their traditional ceremony is being sullied because of the wrong sort of attention from visitors. Photography at the traditional dances, performed by thousands of virgin girls in Nongoma, northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, is strictly regulated. All camera-men are supposed to be bona fide members of the press. But checks in recent years have shown some photographers were just ordinary tourists taking pictures without approval.
Traditional Tribal Clothing Customs
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The cheerful young Zulu maiden, who is now 24 years old, stands confidently in the shot while the cameraman and interviewee look the other way. The outfit she is wearing matches a picture of her from this article , in which she was interviewed about not wanting to allow people from other races to be part of Zulu tradition. Conco will join Zuma's 4 other wives to become wife number 5.
South Africa is again hearing much about tradition from the Zulus. In the Nineties they claimed that tradition gave them the right to bear arms, with which to indulge in the odd bit of traditional killing. Now it seems to be all about sex. And just as the Nineties controversy over weapons was identified with one Zulu man, Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, so the sexual controversy centres on another. The succession of President Thabo Mbeki's one-time heir-apparent, Jacob Zuma, to the leadership had been expected to cement unity between South Africa's two great tribes, the Xhosas and the Zulus. Instead, a single sexual encounter threatens to plunge the country back into its old tribal hatreds. Zuma was cleared by a High Court judge in Johannesburg last week of raping a young family friend who was a house guest. The ruling, while settling the criminal case, is seen by many as the beginning of a battle for the future leadership of South Africa between Zulu traditionalists and Xhosa modernists.