Siisi Awotwi

The Zulu( Wene wa Zulu: Zulu kingdom)


During the 16th and 17th centuries the Nguni moved south, and a small group settled in the fertile valleys of Zululand. From them came the Zulu ,a group of warriors able to amalgamate and join with tribes all over a lot of South Africa. Their kingdom was known as the Zulu Empire(A.K.A. Zululand).

coordinates: l, 28°31'49.99"S
L, 30°53'44.97"E


They lived in a tropical and warm climate

LocationZululandca1890.pngZululand is located in northern KwaZulu-Natal along the eastern seaboard of South Africa. More specifically stretched along the coast of the Indian Ocean from the Tugela River in the south to the Pongola River in the north. Their capital was KwaBulawayo. By the 19th century, that is when his full territory had come into being. With his new power, land and kingdom, he had officially created the most powerful group of people in southern Africa.

- Death of Dingiswayo
- Accession of Shaka
- Battle of Gqokli Hill
- Battle of Mhlatuze River
- Anglo-Zulu War
- Annexation (British)
- to Natal


Their society was ruled by a monarchy consisting of the chief, Senzancangola and his wife, Nandi. Circa 1787, the illegitimate son of the chief, Shaka Zulu was born. He was looked down upon while he grew up, but once he took over the tribe, their reputation and legend started. He was a great leader who built an exceedingly strong military force. This occurred around 1818 when he took over the Mthethwa alliance. He conquered tribes and helped his grow. These tribes then had to follow the government rule that he had established, everything and anything was decided by the one chief in charge.


The Zulu economy depended much upon cattle and a considerable amount of agriculture. Villages and tribes were economically self-sufficient. Women were the heads in agriculture, whereas cattle were tended by the men. Types of crops: mealies, Kaffir maize, pumpkins, watermelons, calabashes, native sugar reeds, and various kinds of tubers and beans.Basically A man's wealth was counted in cattle. Cattle provided the mainstays of the diet (meat and amasi, a form of soured milk), hides for clothing and shields, as well as the means of acquiring wives through lobola, or bride-price. Also,the cattle had enormous ritual value. Sacrifice of cattle was the main means of propitiating the ancestors.

Belief Systems

Zulus believed strongly in ancestor spirits (Amatongo or Amadhlozi), who had the power to intervene in people's lives, for good or ill (This belief continues to exist among the modern Zulu population)In order to appeal to the spirit world, a diviner (sangoma) must invoke the ancestors through divination processes to determine the problem. Then, a herbalist (inyanga) prepares a mixture to be consumed (muthi) in order to influence the ancestors.

Sangomas-greeting.jpeg As such, diviners and herbalists play an important part in the daily lives of the Zulu people. “However, a distinction is made between white muthi (umuthi omhlope), which has positive effects, such as healing or the prevention or reversal of misfortune, and blackmuthi (umuthi omnyama), which can bring illness or death to others, or ill-gotten wealth to the user.Users of black muthi are considered witches, and shunned by society.”

Christianity had difficulty becoming a a part of the Zulu people, and when it did it was in a syncretic fashion.


As all cultures, the Zulu have many interesting customs. One being, that through the military influence of the Shaka regime, the custom of using stick fighting (umshiza), as means of settling their personal differences in a public duel. Another common custom was dancing and singing. Each dance formation or movement symbolized an event or something happening within the clan.

Zuluchargegutt.jpeg There is the rhythmical dance of the smal shield, the fiery motivation body movements of the hunting dance, the symbolizing of the tidal ebb and flow in the Umbhekuzo, the snakelike motion of the umchwayo and the challenging war dance /umghubha with traditional shield and spear.

Science and Technology

Weaponry: Iklwa, A short Zulu thrusting weapon, so called because of the sound made by the spear as it enters the body and the sucking sound it made as it was withdrawn from the body. Knobkerrie, a wooden club used to batter the enemy. Ipapa, named the ipapa because of the "pa-pa" sound it made as it flew through the air. It could theoretically be used both in short ranged attacks and as a thrown weapon, but warriors were forbidden in Shaka's day from throwing it, which would disarm them and give their opponents something to throw back. They also had a 1 meter long hand crafted shield. It was made from ox hide.

iklwa iklwa.jpgZulu shield Zulu-shield-45cm.jpg

Art and Architecture

Their most revered art was beadwork. All traditional zulu beadwork, excluding items used by ritual specialists, related in someway to courtship and marriage. Beadworkers followed and accepted certain fundamentals, such as:

  • Beadwork communicates between unrelated males and females, avoiding the discomfort of direct initial discourse on the sensitive subject of personal relations.

  • Beadwork flows from females, the designers and manufactures, to males - their traditional clients.

  • Men wear beadwork to show involvement with women they may marry, incestuous implications preclude beaded gifts from mothers, sisters and daugters.

  • Beadwork symbolism is encoded within a limited number of colours and geometric figures.

  • Colour symbols have alternative values but those assigned to geometric figures are constant.

  • Values assigned to colours are in groups of positive and negative alternatives, excepting white, which has no negative connotation.

  • Symbolic coding is influenced by a number of factors

    1. The combination and arrangement of colours.

    1. The use and nature of an object.

    1. The deliberate breaking of rules by which these factors operate.



KwaZulu-Natal Tourism Authority, South Africa. Web. 22 Mar. 2010. <>."Routes Travel Info Portal: Kranskop." Routes Travel Info Portal: Places, Things to Do, Accommodation and Lots More. Web. 22 Mar. 2010. <>."Zulu -." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 22 Mar. 2010. <>."Zulu -." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 22 Mar. 2010. <>. "Zulu Tribe." African Tribes - Indigenous People of Africa. Web. 22 Mar. 2010. <>.