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The Kingdom of Eswatini

Marula Festival – A Gift to Tourism in Eswatini

Eswatini’s unique, timeless and captivating culture continues to position the country positively as a destination of choice the world over.

Loved by EmaSwati and international tourists alike, the Marula Festival, known locally as the Buganu Ceremony, is an inspiring reminder of the unifying power of our culture as evidenced by its ability to once again promote domestic and international travel this year.

Over the years, people have travelled from far and wide to marvel the dazzling sights and delightful sounds of the Buganu Ceremony as Lutsango (the women regiments) dance with immeasurable pride and remarkable coordination, their traditional regalia swaying effortlessly and colourfully in the arena.

The ceremony’s mass appeal and subsequent contribution to stimulating tourism has been emphasised by statistics gathered during the two sessions of the Buganu Ceremony at the Buhleni Royal Residence and Hlane Royal Residence, respectively.

With the Buganu Ceremony’s ability to attract a high number of people, most of them choose to be close to all the action hence booking their accommodation in surrounding establishments. This is a win for tourism as most establishments were booked to capacity thereby Statistics gathered by the Eswatini Tourism Authority’s (ETA) Research Department in collaboration with the Department of Immigration reveal an impressive 88.3% average occupancy rate in the Northern Hhohho region during the weekend of 23 to 25 February for the Buhleni leg of the ceremony. The second session of the Buganu Ceremony recorded an average room occupancy rate of 79.2%.

Tourists in attendance at the Hlane Royal Residence expressed, with great enthusiasm, their excitement at coming up-close-and-personal with Eswatini’s culture and the warmth of its people.

Ethiopian visitors Martha Yigezu and Yohannes Demissie were detailed their experience and highlights of the ceremony.

“What we’ve loved the most about this event is the fact that women are the leaders of these festivities so it has an element of solidarity and their agency. We’ve also enjoyed the delicious food so we are very happy,” said Yigezu.

The Food Court at the Buganu Ceremony was another favourite amongst attendees. A meeting place for tourists and locals, this offered visitors the opportunity to sample the very best in Eswatini cuisine while indulging in the warmth of the people of Eswatini.

The Royal Villas served hearty, decadent meals while the Eswatini National Trust Commission (ENTC) prepared the finest in traditional cuisine.

Find out more about the Marula Festival, including some interesting facts, here.