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The unique things about the Zulu culture

June 26, 2020
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The unique things about the Zulu culture

The Zulu people of South Africa are the largest Bantu group in South Africa with a population of over 10million people that reside at KwaZulu-Natal province. They have a glamorous culture with a rich history of success in their traditions, beliefs and craftwork. 

They were also known for their military skills that enabled them to conquer their enemies and foreign invasion from the British.

It is believed that the Zulus are the heirs of Nguni people in South Africa King Shaka Zulu who reigned between (1816-1828) was very instrumental in uniting all Zulu kingdoms and training his army for wars.

Their major language is IsiZulu and seventy percent of South Africans understand it. It is a language filled with respectable culture especially when addressing old people and it is also an official language in South Africa.

They refer to all the elderly men as Baba and women as Mama even if they are not their biological parents.

Their family structure is purely patriarchal where the man heads the family. Their marriage is polygamous where the man is celebrated for marrying many wives as long as he can afford. The family unit also includes men’s parents who exercise great authority to marry couples as they guide and teach them to become responsible members of society.

Their economic activities mainly are agriculture where they keep livestock and plant crops. Women and teenage children are in charge planting, but men assist them to till the land, harvesting and storing

The Zulu community has got their holiday but it is not in the South Africa calendar. It has been christened Heritage Day and it is celebrated annually on September 24. During this special day, they commemorate the founding father King Shaka Zulu. They dress in traditional attires and they converge at KwaDukuza to where the tomb of their deceased king is located. The traditional outfit for men is known as “Amabheshu“, and it looks like an apron which is made by use of skin. On the other hand, the dresses for women vary depending on their age and role in the community. For instance, the clothes for the older women who advise and counsel the younger girls to look different with the attires of newly married ladies.

Some notable activities are dancing, singing and blessing of the community by their spiritual leaders. Despite the transformation into Christianity, most Zulu people still believe in ancestral spirits. They conduct the ancestors to intercede to their god whom they refer to as UMveliqangi meaning the one who originated first. They strongly believe that the living dead and ancestors help them to reach their god during tribulations like calamities, drought and sickness. Therefore, to reach their god, one needs the help of a herbalist and diviner. The herbalist provinces sweet-smelling plants to the ancestors while the diviner performs the ritual to appease the god. 

Additionally, like most African communities, during the mark of the rites of passage, they must slaughter animals and pour liberation. Their rites of passage include birth, adulthood, marriage and death. All the members of the society are invited during rites of passage where they feast, dance together and mourn together during burial ceremonies.

The Zulu people remain to be one of the largest communities with a high population. The elderly are highly respected. Although most Zulu people have transformed into Christianity, they still practice traditional worship of their ancestors and their god UMveliqangi. The Zulu people were 13 subtribes until king King Shaka came to power who worked on uniting them and built a strong army that defeated many enemies.

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