KwaZulu-Natal Heritage Preservation Initiative


Umkhosi Wokweshwama Ceremony

The traditional Zulu first fruit ritual is an annual harvest celebration known as the Umkhosi Wokweshwama ceremony. 

During the ceremony, the Zulu monarch, King Goodwill Zwelithini, is the first person in the nation to sample the new season’s crop. A person who eats the new crop before the king is considered to have violated the dignity and respect owed to the monarch and the tribal ancestors.
The Zulu first fruit ceremony is held when the new season’s crops ripen in December or early January. The ceremony takes place at Enyokeni Royal Palace, Nongoma, Zululand, and the exact date is subject to the Zulu king’s discretion.
The royal tasting happens in a ritualised manner, involving the use of special medicines created by the King’s herbalists and is intended to impart the blessings of the ancestors to the harvest and the farmers.
During this event, young men participate in a series of rituals aimed at providing the Zulu nation with good fortune in the year ahead. Praise singers perform, and the Zulu monarch uses the occasion to talk to his people about pressing social issues such as HIV/Aids and poverty alleviation.
The Zulu first fruit celebrations are of great traditional importance but travellers may respectfully observe proceedings. Zululand Eco-Adventures offer guided packages to watch the event.
If you miss the first fruit ritual but are interested in Zulu eco-epicurean events, contact Dr Elliot Ndlovu from the Kwa-Malulekoes Indigenous Herb Garden and Cultural Centre. He offers village tours that include meals. Those needing pampering should also know that Dr Ndlovu works closely with the Fordoun Spa where indigenous vegetables and traditional Zulu dishes feature regularly on the menu.

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