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The Kingdom of Eswatini

Eswatini celebrates the Marula Festival this weekend

The Kingdom of Eswatini begin celebrations this month for their annual traditional Marula Festival, or Buganu Festival as it is known locally.

The festivities begin this weekend, with the first instalment taking place from 24 – 26 February at the Buhleni Royal Residence, with further celebrations planned in the Lubombo region of which dates will be announced soon. The festival is increasing in popularity, and becoming one of the country’s most exciting traditional ceremonies. Each year King Mswati III and Her Majesty the Indlovukazi, the Queen Mother, make their way to various regions of the Kingdom to celebrate the beginning of the Marula Season.

The Marula season often begins around February or March and continues until May, bringing with it a celebration of the harvest of the Marula fruit. Once the green fruits fall to the ground, women and children gather and store them until they ripen to a creamy yellow colour. The fruits are then placed into water, sugar is added and it is fermented, and distilled into a beer. This potent alcoholic mixture is called buganu, or Marula beer.

The largest of these festivals is held at the royal residence at Buhleni where the royal family join the nation in song and dance. Although the Marula Fruit is found widely throughout Africa, it is most popular in Eswatini. Seen by the emaSwati (people of Eswatini) as much more than a food source, the Marula is rather regarded as a magical healing ingredient, with huge fertility properties. The King and Queen mother are presented with Marula gifts and some Marula beer from each household. Only after the royal family has had some of the beer, is the rest of the nation permitted to join in and drink as well.

Because of its many uses, the Marula fruit is no longer just used to brew beer in Eswatini. It has been further developed into beauty products as part of Her Majesty, The Indlovukazi’ s job creation and poverty alleviation initiatives for rural women in Eswatini. Several families in Eswatini have benefited from this initiative.

The Marula products are produced under a company called Swazi Secrets. The fruit has been developed into many different beauty products. These products also come in hotel packages and gift packages.

Marula Quick Facts

  • Marula fruit contains four times more vitamin C than oranges.
  • Marula edible seed oil is rich in nutritious proteins and minerals and contains active anti-oxidants.
  • Marula essential oils an effective skin conditioner. Its cosmetic and anti-oxidant properties soften, soothe and re-hydrate the skin while fighting free radicals.
  • Marula legends abound –  from its use as a food source, magical qualities as a healing ingredient, to its virility and fertility properties, as well as the many uses of its bark, leaves, fruit, nut and kernels.