The Zulu are a tribe of native Africans living in South Africa and
they form one of the largest ethnic groups there. This video shows young Zulu boys dancing, a ritual that is at the very heart of Zulu culture with each dance symbolizing an event or happening within the Zulu people;
births and the onset of puberty are particularly celebrated.
Zululand, now constitutionally recognised and protected as KwaZulu-Natal, a
province of South Africa, is home to the nine million Zulu people and their king Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu.
(See the video below.)
Whilst enjoying a rich heritage, areas such as Nkandla, which is home to 140,000
people, suffer from rates of unemployment as high as 96% and almost half (46%)
of the population are under the age of fifteen, not least because of rampant
It is estimated that 99% of all Zulu children are malnourished and in places
like Nkandla only one in three children go to school with 97% dropping out
before they complete their education due to poverty.
children live in thatched homesteads without running water or electricity and
poor access to health facilities.
With the man of
the house being the main figure of authority, families lives with their extended
families; grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters (and their spouses) and even
girlfriends. Unlike in many cultures, Zulu
children are named even before they are born and, after birth, an imbeleko
ceremony is held to introduce them to their ancestors who live in the spirit
world of unkulunkulu.
places great weight on remembering family ancestors, as tradition has it, that
if such family members are forgotten, they will return to trouble their living
ancestors. In addition to
their given name, Zulu boys are traditionally given a further name by their
father when they are seven and they may also be known by another nickname given
by herding friends.
Up to this age there tends to be little contact between
father and son, the mother having responsibility for raising the children
including making them aware that Zulu children should never speak unless spoken
Whilst boys are
expected to tend to the family's herd from a young age, girls are taught how to
carry water on their head in a small gourd and later how to plant and reap crops
with a hoe that she is symbolically given at the age of eleven. Whilst many Zulu
children are brought up traditionally, others have adopted a more westernised
lifestyle with those living in more urban areas counting happily watching
television and going to the movies as popular pastimes dressed in their USA
culture clothes and listening to western music. The image below shows where Zulu
children live in South Africa: