One of the most traditional forms of natural resource harvesting, that of the collection of reeds including incema (salt rush or Juncus kraussii), takes place for three weeks in May each year in iSimangaliso, an age-old custom at the very core of these cultural practices. – iSimangaliso CEO Andrew Zaloumis.

iSimangaliso Culture ZululandRural women from across the province of KwaZulu-Natal come to iSimangaliso to collect natural materials that they will use for the year’s craftwork.

Reeds are central to traditional ways of life – being integral to marriage and funeral ceremonies, and the annual Reed Dance held at the Royal Zulu household.

iSimangaliso’s annual incema harvest is therefore one of the best tourism products that SA has to showcase to the travel industry, and hundreds of delegates from all continents made the short trip northwards to experience some of the wonders of this world-class destination during the recent Indaba in Durban.

The rushes are used to make a wide variety of traditional Zulu artefacts but particularly the sleeping mats important in marriage and funeral ceremonies.

Most products are still used for cultural occasions although an increasing proportion is now made for the tourist trade, underlining the critical economic importance of incema to many rural communities.

iSimangaliso Culture ZululandCertain sections of the Park are opened by the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority to allow harvesting of these grasses according to the Park’s Sustainable Resource Use policy.

iSimangaliso is one of the few remaining sites in South Africa where incema can still be harvested due to the Park’s careful conservation and community based natural resource harvesting programme which ensures that it continues to grow in large quantities.

Article Source: iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority

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