Swaziland's Marula Festival

Locally known as ‘Emaganwini’, Swaziland’s Marual festival is a time of song, dance and celebration of the harvest of the Marula Fruit – used not just in the delightful beer, but also in skin care products and medicine. A tribute to the riches of Mother Nature, this highlight of the Swaziland calendar is initiated by King Mswati III and Her Majesty the ‘Indlovukazi’ the Queen Mother, who travel all over the Kingdom leading the nation’s celebrations. 

The Festival is focused across two main weekends, the first this year being February 15th  at the Buhleni Royal Residence, and the second March 1st at the Hlane Royal Residence. Despite the focus on these two marked events the festival continues for as long as the harvest season, often right through to May.

February’s celebration marks the start of this wonderful season, and coincides with the fall of the green Marula fruits. Women and children collect the fallen fruit, and store it until it turns to a creamy yellow colour – the sign that its ripe. Placed into sugar and water, the mixture is left to ferment, eventually creating Marula beer – a drink with quite a kick! First to sample the brew is the royal family, and only after they take the first drink is the rest of the nation permitted to drink and celebrations begin.

Found in Swaziland more than any other African country, the Marula fruit is sacred, and considered much more than a food source. It’s medicinal properties, its ability to aid fertility, and its sweet and highly alcoholic beer are all held in high regard. The festival is full of song and dance, music and celebration, with the women taking the lead – perhaps something to do with their involvement in the Marula Beer production! Aside from the dancing, and celebration, this festival is incredibly important to the Swazi tradition, giving thanks for another ‘fruitful’ harvest, and showing their appreciation in anticipation for next year.

Swaziland describes itself as a one tribe country; a community of people all united as a single family. This tradition and unity promotes a culture unlike any other in Africa, and traditions such as this are vital to keeping that alive.