The Wonderfil Life Of Zulu People

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The Wonderful Life of the Zulu People

Table of Contents


Introduction 3
Chapter I
“Women are extremely valuable in society” 5
Chapter II
“Ancestors are the source of power” 8
Chapter III
“Rite Of Passage” 10
Conclusion 12

The African continent is home to many different religious traditions. The ancient Egyptians were one of the first civilizations formed in Egypt. Records show the Egyptians have been around since 3100 B.C.E. The Egyptians era had a long influenced on African cultures that spread to other sections of the continent. Some of the great advances in African culture and technology diffused from Egypt. Egypt was one of the earliest places in Africa to develop agriculture, to produce African urban centers, states and kingdoms, and to evolve complex technologies.
One culture that gained from Egypt’s development in agriculture is the Zulu people. The Zulus are members of the Bantu people of southwest Africa. They have occupied much of the country before the seventeenth century. The Zulu strongly believe in three major things and they are: women are extremely valuable in society because, all human life passes though their bodies, the ancestors are the source of power and the souls of the people since, they know what is happening among the people and can help them and the rite of passage are moments of great religious importance in each person’s life. These are all examples of how Zulu people are very well-known for their traditions and rituals.
The Zulu people have well-thought-out patterns of individual and family.

Chapter I
Women are extremely valuable in society
The life of women is very different than the life of a man. This begins from the day they are born until the day they die. A female baby is washed in warm water all the way up until they are four months old where as a boy is only washed in warm water until he reaches three months. When girls are still tiny they are treated with gentleness, affection, and patience and both men and women no matter older or younger will leave any task to look after a female baby who is crying.

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“Around the age of 1, when she can stand up she is put in the middle of a circle of women dancers, and the old women clap their hands and admire her for being so grown-up as her chubby little body manages to keep in time with the rhythm while she maintains a precarious balance.”[1] Around the age of or two or three she is then able to get her ears pierced with six holes in the right ear and seven holes in the left ear.
Though out her years as a little girl she is expected to full fill the role of a sister and daughter. The relationship she has with her father is less affectionate than with her mother. She really does not see her father but knows she must respect him because both her mother and father will choose her husband for her, with no opinion in the matter. Once the daughter is married her father will avoid physical contact with her until she has children which he will be a grandfather to. Things are different when it comes to her mother. Her mother’s relationship will not change once she is married. In many cases the mother is the daughter’s counselor to help her in the beginning of her marriage. Once the daughter children, she will give one of her daughters to her mother as a household help especially when the grandmother is getting sick and can not do things on her own.
The happiest times in a women life would be the period preceding puberty. Around this time she is older than ten years old and she goes to dances where she meets young men and married men. At these dances she plays a minor role but all songs give praises for the beauty of women. During these dances she had freedom since no value is attached to virginity. At the end of these dances they have sexual freedom under one condition that she picks certain partners. These dances are a way for a female to be with a person they like before they get married to their fiancé. These relationships do not last long because she knows her destiny is to marry her fiancé.
The relationship she has with her brother is very important. Since the eldest brother will eventually have to take the role of being the father to his younger brothers and sisters. This role becomes very important to the sisters because, in the event they may need to come back home after getting divorced or becoming a widowed as this is the tradition if they have no married children to go live with. The brother is also not to have any physical contact with her until she has a child which is the same as with the father. This is very hard for the brother to do because growing up the brother is very affectionate to his sister. Once brother and sister reach adulthood childhood jokes are no longer taken place, since they have now move on to a formal attitude towards life.

Chapter II
Ancestors are the Source of Power
Among the Zulu people they feel ancestors control the world they live in. In each tribe they have a chief who is responsible for communing with the importance ancestors of the kraal. They feel ancestors can help hinder people. Under the chief they have diviners who assisted by ancestors who communicate by dream or vision. This helps the healers to do their work.
They believe the spiritual energies of the universe can be use to harm people and to help people. They use the diviners top help heal and use the natural forces for evil. In their culture they have witches who can twist ancestors toward death if they fail to honor ancestors. Ancestors of the Kraal are honored by the chief and ancestors of each family are honored by the head of the family.
There are 2 main times when offerings occur: when a tribe had a ritual of a girls’ puberty ceremony and the ritual of the final mourning after death. These offerings are custom to make sure their ancestors are happy. In big household offerings are made when leaving or entering a new dwelling. When any activity is successful, during planting time, and during harvest time they get together and give thanks to the ancestors. “Finally, from time to time, a household should make bear even though there is no special reason for doing so: Even if everything is going well with a community, they should still male an offering to tell them than they are all right and that they will continue to be all right and that they should help them just as they have been doing.”[2]

Chapter III
Rite of Passage
In the Zulu society when a baby is born they must be bathed and treated with medicine. Since when boy gets older they are responsible of cattle they must drink the cattle’s milk before they drink their mother’s milk. They are to drink this cattle’s milk so they will be successful in taking care of the cattle. Having a bay in the Zulu community is a celebration that everyone must attend.
Another ritual is puberty. For men this passage is very important. They must be bath and have new clothes which both resemble the importance of the ritual in a young man’s life. This ritual is to inducted young men into the society as a warrior. In the Zulu society man are suppose to be fierce warriors with shields and spears and this ritual helps young boys become men.
When a person in the Zulu community gets marry it is very important to their families. In the Zulu community they feel marriage “Permits a woman to bear children without involving her in the disgrace that would ensure if she were unmarried, it entitles her husband to claim these children as his own m and so to rely upon them for support in his old age.”[3] Since, the parents choose who they would marry they do not have the opportunity to fall in love with someone else so they do not the refuse to marry the person that was selected. Everything that is done is by the two families and not by the bride or the groom. The groom will transfer his cattle to the bride’s Kraal and the both Kraals negotiate the terms of the marriage. The wedding is usually held at the groom’s kraal.
Once the wedding is over the father of the groom will sacrifice and ox to the ancestors and then they can eat. The bride gets her gifts but she must share with her new family, since she is leaving her ancestors. When she first moves into the new kraal she must keep her face cover since she now represents powers of new ancestors. She must be careful and respectful of the new ancestors of the new Kraal.
Another major ceremony is the mourning of a person’s death. When ever a chief passes away it is always questioned. His body is honored and is always buried under his kraal. During this ceremony they must be careful not to upset the ancestors so they do not turn against their community. They kill an ox and this closes the kraal and the mourning for the chief.
The Zulu people have may influences that are economic and religious. They whole objective are to keep their ancestors happy, have their different rite of passages and respect women. Women play a major role in their society. Women mean a lot to the Zulu People and they worship them very much. Ancestors are a source of powering the Zulu community. This source of power helps the souls of people who sought to fulfill their moral obligations. Ancestors help Zulu to have a better life and help with situations that occur in their everyday life. Rite of passage is very important in the Zulu community. All of their passages are ways of keeping spiritual forces happy and form keeping the evil out of the community. Zulu people are very interesting and intelligent people.

• Lamb, David. The Aficans, First Edition. New York: Random House,1982.
• Skinner,Ellioot. Peoples and Cultures of Africa. New York: The Doubleday/Natural History Press, 1973.
• Schapera, Isaac. Married Life in an African tribe. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1966.
• Hance, Gertrude. The Zulu Yesterday and To-Day. New York: Negro Universities Press, 1916.
• Reyher, Rebecca. Zulu Women. New York: Columbia University Press, 1948.
• Ottenberg, Simon and Phoebe. Culture and societies of Africa. Nee York: Random House, 1960.
[1] Elliotl Skinner, Peoples and Cultures of Africa(New York: Natural History Press, 1973), 298.
[2] Simon and Phoebe Ottenburg, Cultures and Societies of Africa(New York: Random House, 1960), 374.
[3] Isaac Schapera, Married Life in an African tribe(Evaston: Northwestern University Press, 1966), 38.

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