His Majesty King Mswati III, King of Swaziland, is expected to join regiments of emabutfo (warriors) and lutsango (woman's regiments) in a jovial ceremony of song and dance at Buhleni Royal Residence on a weekend in February, in celebration of Buganu - the fermented marula wine which is ever popular in Swaziland. This is often held on the 3rd weekend in February.
NOTE: The 2017 date for this event is the 10th - 12st of February
The Marula fruit ripens and falls from the trees in the Swaziland loweld during the months of February and March. It is typically collected by rural women who then prepare a fermented and quite potent alcoholic beverage from its crushed fruit.
Due to prominence of women's regiments, lutsango, in this ceremony it is quite usual for the Swazi Queen Mother, Her Majesty the Indlovukazi, to also be in attendance.
The ceremony regularly attracts scores of people from all walks of life and for independent and adventurous tourists with an interest in African cultural this is an undiluted and uncommercialised event that is typical of centuries of African tradition.
Buhleni is situated in the northern Hhohho region of Swaziland. Women will begin to deliver the brew on Friday afternoon. The main celebration kicks off after lunch and carries on well into the night. After the celebrations there, the entire entourage moves to Hlane Royal Residence in the eastern Lubombo region for more celebration and general merriment and the next weekend.
How to go about finding this venue and enjoying the ceremony? Our recommendation is to make use of a local step-on guide to travel with you in your own vehicle, bookable on this site, or to book a full day Taste of Swaziland tour with Swazi Trails, where transport, lunch, refreshments and guiding are included. Accommodation can be booked in the Ezulwini Valley as a good starting point for a day excursion to these ceremonies, or alternatively in the lowveld at a venue like Hlane Royal National Park.
If you miss the Buganu Festival at Buhleni, there is a second similar celebration that takes place at Hlane Royal Residence, normally a fortnight (two weeks) after the initial event. Again this is subjectv to confirmation by the traditional authorities.