The name Zulu means
"the people of heaven."
The Zulu people can be traced back to the 19th century hero, Shaka Zulu.
After the death of his father Senzangakhona, Shaka Zulu conquered many nations
and combined them under his reign, thus creating a huge Zulu nation.
The Zulu are a Bantu ethnic group of Southern Africa and the largest ethnic
group in South Africa, with an estimated 10–11 million people living mainly in
the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
Small numbers also live in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique.
Their language, Zulu, is a Bantu language; more specifically, part of the Nguni
subgroup. They remain today the most numerous ethnic group in South Africa.
The Zulu formed a powerful state in 1818 under their King Shaka, an influential
tribal leader. As commander in the army of the Mthethwa Empire, he became leader
of his mentor Dingiswayo's paramouncy and united what was once a confederation
of tribes into an imposing empire under Zulu hegemony. (ask.com)
The modern Zulu population is fairly evenly distributed in both urban and rural
areas. Although KwaZulu-Natal is still their heartland, large numbers have been
attracted to the relative economic prosperity of Gauteng province. Indeed, Zulu
is the most widely spoken home language in the province, followed by Sotho. Zulu
is also spoken in many rural and small-town areas of the Mpumalanga province, in
addition to other parts of Southern Africa. There are Zulus in Zambia known as
Abangoni, Mozambique known as Xigubo, and in Zimbabwe known as Amandebele.
Zulus also play an important part in South African cultural, political, academic
and economic space. The African National Congress (Pixley KaIsaka Seme) and
Inkatha Freedom Party (Mangosuthu Buthelezi) were both established by the Zulus.
Pixley KaIsaka Seme's philosophy was to form a non-tribal political movement
that would fight for the freedom of black people, whereas the Inkatha Freedom
Party was initially a Zulu cultural movement but later became a political party.
Zulus wear a variety of attire, both traditional for ceremonial or culturally
celebratory occasions, and modern westernized clothing for everyday use.
The women on the other hand dress differently depending on
whether they are single, engaged, or married. An unmarried woman who is still
eligible is proud of her body and is not ashamed of showing it. She only wears a
short skirt made of grass or beaded cotton strings and spruces herself up with
lots of beadwork. An engaged woman will let her traditionally short hair grow.
She will cover her bosom with a decorative cloth which is done out of respect
for her future relatives and to indicate that she has been spoken for. The
married woman covers her body completely signalling to other men that she is
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 (muthi) to be consumed in order to
influence the ancestors. 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 black muthi (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.
African Goddesses and Queens