Historical Facts About The Zulu Tribe

historical facts about the zulu tribe

The Zulu tribe is the largest ethnic group in South Africa, specializes for the unique life way of their culture and well known for bead work & carving

The Zulu, which means people of heaven, are a proud nation that treasure their heritage, are friendly and always hospitable; displaying an unyielding loyalty to their inkosi. The Zulu traditions and culture are as much a way of life as they are a tourist attraction. The Zulu people and their long, proud and violent history have shaped the destinies of all people in the now South African province of KwaZulu-Natal over the past 200 years. Immortalized in films like “Zulu” and “Shaka Zulu,” these people and their conflicts – both within their own tribe and against the British Empire and Boers, is the stuff of legend. The current president of the Republic of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, is Zulu

Zulu Historical Facts

Over thousands of years the Zulu’s ancestors, the Nguni people, migrated down the east coast of Africa as part of the Bantu migrations. They eventually reached South Africa around the ninth century AD, where a small Zulu clan formed.In the early 1800’s the famous Zulu warrior and king Shaka kaSenzangakhona united the Zulu tribes into a powerful kingdom. He is known for his military genius which was matched with his brutality.

In 1879 the Anglo-Zulu War began as a result of the then Zulu king Cetshwayo refusing the British demand that he accept British authority and disband his army. The Zulus inflicted an early devastating defeat at the Battle of Isandlwana. This was the worst defeat the British would ever experience against any African enemy. The British eventually won the war. The final confrontation was the Battle of Ulundi on July 4, 1879. Soon after the defeat king Cetshwayo was captured and exiled to London. At this time the British divided the Zulu kingdom into thirteen sub-kingdoms. The sub-kingdoms fought among each other. Eventually Cetshwayo was release by the British and reinstate as Zulu king. However, he was unsuccessful at reuniting his kingdom and was eventually forced to escape from Zululand. He died in 1884 from what might have been a poisoning.


Origins of Zulu Tribe

historical facts about the zulu tribe

The Zulus believe that they are descendents of a Congo chief whom during the 16th century migrated to the South. By the 17th and 18th century the Zulu people were established in kwaZulu Natal and formed tribes and clans. The first noted King of kwaZulu is King Malandela kaLuzamu but the years in which he lead the Zulu nation are not known. When he died Ntombhela kaMalandela, the son, took over as King … Zulu kaNtombhela lead the people from 1709.You to can learn to speak zulu!

Culture, Traditions and Customs

The Zulu believe that they are descendants from a chief from the Congo area, and in the 16th century migrated south picking up many of the traditions and customs of the San who also inhabited this South African area.Zulu people During the 17th and 18th centuries many of the most powerful chiefs made treaties and gave control of the Zulu villages to the British. This caused much conflict because the Zulu had strong patriarchal village government systems so they fought against the British but couldn’tZulu basket win because of the small strength they possessed. Finally, after much of the Zulu area had been given to the British the Zulu people decided as a whole that they didn’t want to be under British rule and in 1879 war erupted between the British and the Zulu. Though the Zulu succeeded at first they were in 6 months conquered by the British who exiled the Zulu Kings and divided up the Zulu kingdom. In 1906 another Zulu uprising was lead and the Zulu continue to try to gain back what they consider to be their ancient kingdom.

The Zulu believe in a creator god known as Nkulunkulu, but this god does not interact with humans and has no interest in everyday life. Therefore, most Zulu’s interact on a day to day level with the spirits. In order to interact with the spirits the Zulu must use divination to interact with the ancestors. All misfortune is a result of a evil sorcery or offended spirits, nothing just happens because of natural causes. The Zulu are best known for their bead work and basketry. There have also been some figural sculpture questionably attributed to them. Zulu architecture is quite complex, and the dress or fashion of the Zulu has been carefully studied. Zulu and Zulu shields have become well known all around the worldZulu warrior Rural Zulu raise cattle and farm corn and vegetables for subsistence purposes. The men and herd boys are primarily responsible for the cows, which are grazed in the open country, while the women do most, if not all, of the planting and harvesting.

Zulu leadership has four Heirarchy levels:

1. The king, 2. The chiefs or amakosi, who report to the king. The title is inherited by the eldest son, now women can assume the role of amakosi, 3. The headman, known as induna who is elected by the village elders, acts as the village arbitrator on village issues, allocates land and reports to the inkosi (chief), 4. The homestead heads, known as umunumzane, resolve domestic disputes and local issues.

Know about South african cultural villages

Zulu Language

The Zulu peoples language is called isiZulu. IsiZulu is part of the Nguni subgroup of the Bantu language. It is South Africa’s most widely spoken language. Many Zulus also speak several of South Africa’s eleven other official languages including English, Afrikaans, Portuguese, Shangaan, and Sesotho.

Cultural Food

The Zulu people, who comprise the largest ethnic group in South Africa, have a wide variety of foods particular to their area of the world. Among them are fruits and vegetables not found elsewhere. Although colonization has influenced their diets by adding crops like maize (corn) and tomatoes, the Zulu people still have many traditional foods that they incorporate into their modern diets. Outside of Africa, few of these indigenous Zulu foods and dishes are available.

Zulu Art and crafts

Zulu art was for many years overlooked as the Zulu people did not make art in the form of sculptures and paintings. Rather, the art was seen in the embellishment of utensils used in the home such as carved wooden meatplatters, milkpails, spoons, walking sticks and headrests. Inherant in Zulu art is a strong sense of geometric design. The patterns are usually related to some notion of masculinity, femininity, fertility or cattle. For example, the nodules – called amasumpta- seen on beer pots, meatplatters, milkpails and headrests are suggestive of the cows udders.

Zulu trbie Clothing

African tribe girls Dresses

Zulus wear distinctive traditional attire, representative of their hunter-gatherer culture. The Zulu people of Africa wear different types of clothing for different occasions. They may wear traditional tribal clothing for cultural events or ceremonies but otherwise wear westernized clothing for everyday use.
The type of clothing a women wears is dictated by her marital status. A single unengaged women will wear a short skirt usually made of grass and will also wear beautiful beadwork. An engaged women will let it be know that she is engaged by covering her bosom with a decorative cloth. Married Zulu women wear clothing that covers their body completely. Men sport a loincloth produced from goatskin. Along with this cloth, men carry the regimental shield of their warrior clan. Women wear skirts and adorn their bodies with beads. The skirts, called isidwaba, are usually leather-based. Zulu women also wear head coverings. The inkehli is a flattop cap woven into the hair. Women don different inkehli to symbolize certain life stages.


Subsistence. Before the mid-nineteenth century the Zulu depended entirely on horticulture and raising livestock. Their staple crop was maize, while cattle, goats, and poultry were the most important livestock. Today they eat spinach, pumpkins, beans, potatoes, and other vegetables, which they grow and buy. Although they like meat, many people cannot afford to buy it. Maize, wheat flour, and more recently rice are the main staples.

What does the Zulu nation look like today?

Amongst other occasions that Zulus are known to celebrate in this day is theZulu girls Reed dance, held at the Royal palace in kwaZulu- Natal, where the Zulu girls sing and dance and warriors show off the Zulu weapons and shields for the King and audience. In 2004 South Africa went to cast votes for the Greatest South African and Shaka Zulu was amongst them representing the Zulu nation and the mark he left within the Zulu tribe.



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