Cultures – Blog Post 1

A personal thank you – Please allow me to start this blog by thanking you for reading it. What an honour to share what I believe is interesting to you on your adventures with us.

Ukuhlonipha amaZulu (Honouring the Zulu)

Today I chose the subject of culture, and I want to share with you, the very honourable and interesting culture of the Zulu tribe.

A few South African adventurers have come across the term Shaka Zulu, but not many know the origin of his tribe, known as the Nguni people. The Zulu tribe emanated from the Nguni’s at the time of the Bantu Migration during +- 500AD.

It is estimated that more than 10 million Zulu people is currently living in South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal Province can be described as the home of the Zulu’s in South Africa.

In the Zulu language, known as IsiZulu, they use respected terms toward the people that they speak to. Being a South African I have the honour of getting to know the Zulu people, and it always amazes me when they call me Baba (father – even though I am not family). An elderly lady would be greeted as Mama (mother). There are many more terms of respect as examples, but I believe that their humanness, known as “Ubuntu” is clearly evident of the respect in the Zulu language.

In their religion, like with many black cultures, they believe in the ancestral spirits as well as the existence of a higher spirit called UMveligangi. (the first one or the one who came first). It is believed that the spirits of the dead and the first one communicates and determine the life of the people alive on earth.

The Zulu people have big celebrations when it comes to birth, death, becoming a man or woman and getting married. In these celebrations, they usually make sacrifices to their ancestors.

Animals play a crucial role in their society and are of ritual significance. It is by giving to the ancestors what belongs to them that you can receive their blessing. Apart from the ritual significance cattle provide meat and milk to the tribe. The hide of an animal was used for clothing and battle shields. It is obvious that more cattle means more wealth.

If you want to get married to the daughter of a family, you would pay by offering cattle to replace her labour loss when taking her away from her father and mother.

Ngithanda kuphi? (where do I come from?)

In the Nguni tribe was a leader called Malandela (The Follower) and at the end of his days, a clan came into being by virtue of his son Zulu (Heaven) who became the clan head.

This high spirited young man travelled further South to the Mkhumbane River where he established his own small realm known as the KwaZulu (place of heaven).

The Zulu leader Senzangakhona fell in love with a Zulu female called Nandi. Nandi conceived before recognized as the chief’s wife. This unfortunate happening was dismissed as interference by an intestinal beetle known as Shaka.

When the baby was born in 1781 he received the name Shaka. Even though Shaka was his fathers oldest son his ill-timed arrival denied him chieftainship status. Shaka orchestrated the murder of his brother (legitimate heir to the throne) and with the help of a military force sent by the overlord chief, Shaka Zulu became heir to the throne.

By 1918 the Zulu nation was the largest and most populous ever and their leader was Shaka – King of the Zulu.

The Zulu leader Senzangakhona fell in love with a Zulu female called Nandi. Nandi conceived before recognized as the chief’s wife. This unfortunate happening was dismissed as interference by an intestinal beetle known as Shaka.

When the baby was born in 1781 he received the name Shaka. Even though Shaka was his fathers oldest son his ill-timed arrival denied him chieftainship status. Shaka orchestrated the murder of his brother (legitimate heir to the throne) and with the help of a military force sent by the overlord chief, Shaka Zulu became heir to the throne.

By 1918 the Zulu nation was the largest and most populous ever and their leader was Shaka – King of the Zulu.

Author: Reinier Bredenkamp

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