King Mswati III picks teen to marry as 15th wife
An 18-year old virgin is the latest catch for Swaziland's King Mswati III, who was picked to eventually become the king's 15th wife, APA can report on Sunday.
The picking is a cultural process reserved only for the king which occurs once a year, during the Reed Dance ceremony where over 100 000 dance before the king and the nation to celebrate their virginity.
During this event, the king is expected to choose one maiden whom he later marries by Swazi law and custom, which allow men to marry as many women as they please.
The king has deliberately abandoned picking a maiden during some of the past years’ events for reasons known to royalty. If he had been picking every year he would be having 29 wives and one fiancee by now, because he has seen 30 Reed Dance ceremonies since he was coronated into power in 1986.
Sphelele Mashwama was a student of Waterford College when she decided to participate in the 2017 annual Reed Dance, and by virtue of being chosen by the king she will automatically drop out of school as she is now engaged to him, and is expected to undergo certain cultural grooming in preparation for the royal marriage.
On the main day of the Reed Dance, on Monday September 4, the king's fiancee had already been informed about the picking as she emerged clad in a unique traditional attire, with the top bearing a lion, a symbol reserved only for the king in Swaziland.
She had also donned red feathers on the head, which are only reserved for members of royalty and can never be worn by an ordinary citizen under any circumstances.
Also remarkable during the dance was that, unlike other maidens, Sphelele was dancing under tight police and army security and men who were spectators were warned not to approach her as she was the special maiden of the day.
By then it had not been confirmed that she was the chosen one until on Saturday, when the king's emissary Hlangabeza Mdluli confirmed to local media.
The new fiancee has been slotted to accompany the king during his upcoming trip to the UN General Assembly next week. Usually, the king's wives take turns to accompany him on international trips, something that is a responsibility of protocol officers.
King Mswati III already has 14 wives known as Emakhosikati and, in order of marriage, they are: LaMatsebula, LaMotsa, LaMbikiza, LaNgangaza, LaMagwaza, LaHwala, LaMagongo, LaMasango, LaGija, LaMahlangu, LaNtenteza, LaNkambule, LaDube and LaFogiyane.
Sphelele will be joining royalty as the 15th and youngest wife and her marriage title will be LaMashwama.
The king has about 25 children and his first born is 30-year-old Princess Sikhanyiso.
It would be recalled that Princess Sikhanyiso won a beauty contest for daughters of African leaders, beating all nine who featured in the top 10.
APA learned that the princess competed with Bona Mugabe the daughter of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe; Thuthukile Zuma the daughter of South Africa president Jacob Zuma; Ngina Kenyatta daughter of then Kenya president Uhuru Kenyatta; Ange Kagame daughter of Rwanda president Paul Kagame; Brenda Biya daughter of Cameron president; Isabel dos Santos daughter of Angolan president Jose Eduardo dos Santos; Aya All Sisi daughter of Egypt president; Malika Bongo Ondimba daughter of Gabon president Ali Bongo Ondimba and Zahra Buhari.
Princess Sikhanyiso was the eldest of the contestants at 30 years, while all the others are aged between 21 and 28 years.
The beauty contest was adjudicated by four media organisations namely, Live Monitor, Africa Ranking, National Association of Independent Journalists (NAIJ) and SDE in Kenya, all of which agreed that the princess was the most beautiful.
A common factor across all the young women is that they all went to overseas tertiary institutions including Britain, California, Hong Kong, Sydney and Massachusetts.
Characteristics that stand out for individual contests are that Bona is married, Sikhanyiso is the only princess while Isabel is considered by Forbes to be the richest and most powerful African woman with a net worth of $3.7 billion.
Princess Sikhanyiso is the King's daughter born from his third wife, Inkhosikati LaMbikiza.