What is the Umthayi Marula Festival ?
The Umthayi Marula Festival is an annual cultural event held at eMfihlweni Royal Residence in the small town of Manguzi, Mhlabuyalingana, at uMkhanyakude District in KwaZulu-Natal.The Umthayi Marula Festival is in its 9th year but has been celebrated for decades, the Tembe women carry and bring the traditional community brew Marula beer and deliver it to Inkosi Mabhudu at the Tembe’s Emfihlweni Royal Residence. The festival brings tribes from Swaziland ,South Africa,Mozambique and Limpopo together to celebrate their cultural heritage and their traditional Marula brew ,music,and while all dressed in their traditional finery.
My Umthayi Marula Festival Experience :
We headed off from Durban on Friday with a group of media colleagues with KZN Tourism for the Umthayi Marula Festival.I did not think the drive would be so long but I was so mistaken.The views are stunning though so a few pit stops along the way make the drive much better.We drove up to Jozini which was a four and a half hour drive away and Jozini Tiger Lodge was our home for the weekend.I will be writing a review post on the property soon and trust me you will defo want to go visit.
The festivites for the Umthayi Festival would start at 8am the next morning so we had to make a very early start as it was still over 106kms before we reached was destination.Prior to going we were informed of the dress protocol for women which was dresses or skirts and strictly no pants allowed.Lucky for me I did have an African print dress in my wardrobe but note to self I need more African inspired clothing in my wardrobe.
On reaching the Royal residence we were taken to a press briefing with KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development and Tourism MEC Sihle Zikalala.Mr Zikalala outlined the importance of this cultural festival on the calendar and “It has contributed a lot in the economic growth of this district. Many people have guest’s houses, established small hotels. The hospitality industry is growing, but also it adds on the cultural orientation of the area as you would see the people coming in their cultural outfit to celebrate this event. We continue to support it as government. Firstly, because it contributes to the economy and tourism; secondly, it also contributes culturally. It’s our responsibility to grow it,” says Zikalala.
All around us the tribes were getting ready to present their brew to then Inkosi.For me it was so fascinating to see so many different traditional attire with authentic looks and some with a modern twist.It was extremely hot and we headed to the media tent for refreshments before the proceedings started.
Over 44 tribes brought their Marula brew to the Umthayi Festival.Each tribe decked in their finery and distinctive colours of their tribe sang and danced while their brought their brew forward.The brew was then poured into a communal Jojo Tank suggesting the coming together of all tribes and oneness.
The Marula beer was then poured into the most beautiful bottles and carried by the women folk to the stadium.By this time vendors had set up stalls along the way selling products made from Marula ,food and drink.Some of the products included jam,soap and skin care products.
I could not stop looking around at all the beautiful attire from the various tribes.It made me want to embrace my Africaness more and buy more African clothing and jewellery.The rest of the festivities includes more traditional dancing and music from the various tribe both local and international as well as speeches from the Royal families and the MEC.
The entertainment line up included DJ Tira ,Sol Stringer ,Superb Popzin and DJ Terance.It was indeed a day of celebration and the coming together of the various tribes across the border.
Tips for Umthayi Marula Festival :
1.Ladies wear a dress or a skirt.
2.Wear sneakers and not sandals trust me on this one.
3.Use a lot of sunblock.
4.Dress cool and comfortable.
5.Keep hydrated drink lots of water.
6.Eat a substantial breakfast carry some snacks.
7.Carry a hat or an umbrella.
8.Draw on your Africaness and wear bright colours ,traditional clothing and jewellery.
9.Carry a power bank.
10.The network reception is pretty poor so stick with your friends because if you lose them you it will be a mission to find them.
Be Inspired !