The Zulus are the largest and most well known South African ethnic tribe, mainly because of the vital part they played in the continents history. The Zulus are known for their strong fighting spirit and the history of South Africa would not be complete without mentioning the Zulu Tribe.
The Zulus arose in the late 18th century from the hundreds of small clans occupying the northern regions of kwaZulu-Natal on the eastern seaboard of South Africa. There was always a struggle between the clans for grazing rights and conflict was commonplace . They merged into a great kingdom In the 19th century under the leadership of Shaka.
Today there is an estimated 10 million Zulu residents in KwaZulu-Natal.
As with most cultures, the Zulu marriage process has now become modernised in urban societies, starting off with an engagement, followed by the payment of lobola. Once lobola has been paid Izibizo will follow, this is where gifts are given to the brides family followed by Umbondo where the bride will in turn give gifts to the grooms family. Finally the actual Zulu Traditional Wedding will take place, Umabo.
The traditional Zulu wedding will usually take place at the grooms family home. The bride is required to leave her family home early in the morning, covered in a blanket given to her by her mother. The bride’s father or a close member of the fathers family will lead her to her new family home. She is not allowed to look back, this is believed to cause her bad luck. The bride’s father will call out the family’s clan names, telling the ancestors that his daughter is officially leaving home to join another family. On arrival at the groom’s house the bride must walk around the house so as to be introduced to her huband’s ancestors, before entering the home through the kitchen while nobody is noticing her the groom’s family will pay a penalty for not being aware of the bride they as should have gone to fetch her. The bride’s family also comes early in the morning, with the wedding ceremony starting at around midday.
The Zulu Traditional wedding - Umabo is a very important ritual in Zulu culture. Zulu culture, no marriage is considered complete until until they’ve carried out the ritual of Umabo. Because of this, couples who experience difficulties in their marriages, or struggle to have children, will go through the umabo years after they first got together, as a way of appeasing the ancestors because it is strongly believed that it is only through umabo that the ancestors will recognise the union.
Historically the Zulus were a rich and powerful nation with large cattle herds. Zulu cooking reflects this history with high levels of beef and dairy in the traditional diet. Milk is consumed in a soured form known as amasi while meat is stewed or grilled over an open fire.
Traditionally meat portions are allocated according to gender and age with adult men eating high status portions such as the head, liver and right-front leg. Young boys are allocated the feet, lower leg portions and lungs. Tripe and ribs are considered suitable for women. The liver is perceived to be the site of human bravery much as the heart symbolically stores this character trait in Eurocentric food culture.
Meat is commonly eaten with a spicy vegetable relish known as chakalaka, providing evidence of the cultural and culinary fusion legacy of Zulus living and working closely with the large number of South Africans of Indian origin who also live in the KwaZulu-Natal province.
Traditional Zulus also hunted and gatherd wild foods.
The foundations of Zulu cuisine are sorghum and maize starches, which are generally eaten as polenta-like porridges or drunk in the form of beer. Isibhede is a fermented porridge, which tingles on the tongue,while phutu is an unfermented, crumbly porridge.
Sibhede is a fermented porridge, which tingles on the tongue,while phutu is an unfermented, crumbly porridge. Amahewu is a non-intoxicating grain beer while utywala is a highly alcoholic brew. Of secondary starch status in Zulu food are amandumbe, fibrous root vegetables similar to the sweet potato.
Traditional Zulu Clothing
Modern Zulu dresses are a beautiful representation of the vibrant and colorful culture of the Zulu people. These dresses incorporate traditional motifs and styles with modern fashion trends, creating a unique and eye-catching look. From the isidwaba to the umqhele, these dresses showcase the beauty and diversity of Zulu culture.
The Zulu people are an ethnic group from South Africa known for their vibrant and colorful clothing. Traditional Zulu attire includes a wide range of clothing items, such as beaded necklaces, bracelets, and anklets, as well as headbands, skirts, and dresses. In recent years, modern Zulu dresses have become increasingly popular, incorporating traditional styles and motifs with modern fashion trends.
Here is a list of modern Zulu dresses that showcase the unique beauty and style of Zulu culture:
Isidwaba: The isidwaba is a traditional Zulu skirt made from animal hide or fabric. Modern versions of this skirt feature bright colors and bold patterns, often paired with a matching top or blouse. Isidwabas can be worn for formal events, weddings, or cultural celebrations.
Imvunulo: The imvunulo is a Zulu wedding dress that is traditionally made from cowhide or goatskin. Modern versions of this dress incorporate traditional Zulu motifs and beading, but are made from more modern materials, such as satin or chiffon. Imvunulos are typically white or cream in color and are adorned with intricate beadwork.
Indlamu: The indlamu is a traditional Zulu dance performed by men, and the attire for this dance typically includes a colorful waistcoat, beaded necklace, and a headband. Modern versions of the indlamu attire are more gender-inclusive, featuring a colorful waistcoat or dress with intricate beadwork and patterns.
Isicholo: The isicholo is a traditional Zulu headpiece worn by married women. Modern versions of the isicholo are made from woven or beaded materials and can be paired with a matching dress or blouse for a formal occasion.
Umgwalo: The umgwalo is a traditional Zulu dress that is typically worn by young girls during initiation ceremonies. Modern versions of the umgwalo feature vibrant colors and patterns, often with intricate beading or embroidery.
Umqhele: The umqhele is a traditional Zulu hat that is worn by men during ceremonial occasions. Modern versions of the umqhele feature bold patterns and bright colors, often paired with a matching shirt or waistcoat.
In Zulu beadwork every colour and shape has its own intricate cultural meaning. All colours except white (which only represents love and purity), have both positive and negative meanings dependant on what bead is stitched alongside it. The colour of the beadwork one chooses to wear can even symbolise mood, with black indicating one is in mourning and green depicting contentment or bliss in marriage.
Traditionally, Zulu men would rely on these messages for certain information such as whether a woman is married or not. Beadwork is indicative of gender, and told others how many children the wearer had, what region she/he hailed from, and how many unmarried sisters she/he had.
Women also rely on beadwork as a way of forging bonds amongst themselves. The time spent beading together strengthens the bond of community and is passed down from mother to daughter.
The Zulu tribe has always believed in ancestral spirits referred to as amadlozi or abaphansi, spirits of the dead. They also believe in the existence of a higher being who is called Umveliqangi, meaning the one who comes first. Like many cultures, the Zulu people believe that life doesn't end with death but continues in the spiritual world. Death is seen as a person's deeper connection with all creation. Every person who dies within the Zulu tribe must be buried the traditional way. If not done the traditional way, the deceased may become a wandering spirit. An animal is slaughtered as a ritual. The deceased's personal belongings is buried with them to aid them in their journey.
Ancestors are believed to live in the spirit world unKulunkulu (the greatest of the great) and are regarded as intermediaries between the living and the spirit world and they work hand in hand with God. Zulu beliefs are formed around the presence of ancestral spirits, known as amadlozi and abaphansi. Ancestors' presence comes in the form of dreams, sickness and snakes. Opportune times to communicate with ancestors are during birth, puberty, marriage and death.
Contact with ancestors are made to ask them for blessings, good luck, fortune, guidance and assistance. Ancestors are implored through offerings and sacrifices. Home-brewed beer and slaughtering animals are some of the common forms of offerings.
Bad luck is considered to be the work of an evil spirit and to rid with the issue a traditional healer, known as a sangoma, communicates to the spirit with the help of prayer and herbs.
Umembeso is a traditional Zulu wedding ceremony that takes place after the lobola negotiations have been completed. It is marked by the exchange of gifts between the two families, and the bride is expected to wear a traditional dress that is made from bright and colorful fabric. Umembeso dresses are often adorned with beading and embroidery, and they are designed to showcase the bride's beauty and elegance.
Umgidi is a traditional Zulu wedding ceremony that is marked by the slaughtering of a cow. It is a celebration of the union between the bride and groom, and the bride is expected to wear a traditional dress that is made from bright and colorful fabric. Umgidi dresses are often adorned with beading and embroidery, and they are designed to showcase the bride's beauty and elegance.
Umabo is a traditional Zulu wedding ceremony that takes place after the wedding has been consummated. It is marked by the official introduction of the bride to the groom's family, and the bride is expected to wear a traditional dress that