Zulu Culture

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Traditional Zulu society has chiefs and a King who represent all the Zulu culture. Today the Zulu traditional structure clashes with the present central and democratic government of South Africa. Men play the dominate role in the Zulu family, the Zulu women are renowned for the bead craft, basket weaving, and pottery, the men are crafted in wood  and object made out of animal skin. The Zulu people have faced many wars and conflicts with the government, however since 1994 when Nelson Mandela became president and the end of apartheid, the new South African government has ended many battles with in the last ten years.
The Zulu’s economic organization, beliefs and values, and social organization are what make them an emerging agriculturalist. The primary mode of subsistence can be explained as the major activities that the people of Zulu tribe practice. The Zulu are located or are known to settle in Natal province in the state of South Africa. This province lies between the Indian Ocean and the Drakensberg mountain range to the east and west. The province also stretches from the Swaziland and Mozambique borders in the northern side to the UMzimkhulu River to the southern side.
This area is known to be fertile; making it appropriate for agriculture. The geographical climate of the area also favors the aspect of agriculture; which has made it easy for the Zulu people to make their living. Because of these geographical aspects, the Zulu people are best described to be emerging agriculturalists. This is because their main supply of industry comes from both cattle herding and farming. Agriculturist societies use a range food-production patterns to meet the needs of the group. These patterns include: foraging, ranching, peasant farming, plantation agriculture, and large-scale mechanized grain farming.
The Zulu people mostly practice agriculture in that they carry out both farming and cattle rearing. The men and boys of this ethnic group are known to herd or rear the cattle and other livestock. The Zulu women are well known to do the planting of diverse crops, which include vegetables such as beans, maize, millet, yams, and fruits. The women were also the ones carrying out the harvesting of the crops. This shows that the Zulu people practiced agricultural activities; so their subsistence mode is emerging agriculture. The Zulu economy organization is dependent on diverse activities.
The Zulu primary mode of subsistence, which is agriculture, has had an impact on the economic organization of the ethnic group. Agricultural societies are more stratified than societies using any other subsistence strategy. Adult men occupy the highest level of status while women rank the lowest—though this is changing in some agriculturist societies. Agricultural societies maintain a sharp distinction between men’s work, politics, public life, food production, and warfare and women’s work, childrearing and other domestic chores. The Zulu people depended entirely on farming and livestock herding during the mid and late 19th century.
A man’s wealth was counted in cattle. Cattle provided the mainstays of the diet, hides for clothing and shields, as well as the means of acquiring wives through lobola, or bride-price. The modern Zulu are poor, with agricultural yield below subsistence level. Even as Apartheid as an institution has been dismantled, it is still extremely difficult for Africans to compete for jobs for which they have not been trained, and the country is still entrenched in de facto racism (Giblin, 1998). Women still till the fields, but most men travel to the towns seeking work.
Cattle are still a symbol of wealth, although the holdings are low. Cattle are seldom slaughtered for meat—usually only for ritual occasions. Poverty and malnutrition were so severe that the traditional robust Zulu physique is changing and the Zulu are becoming a puny, stunted and mentally enfeebled people. In addition, cattle had enormous ritual value. Sacrifice of cattle was the principal means of propitiating the ancestors. They carried out these agricultural activities for subsistence purposes. The Zulu community has diverse beliefs and values.
They believe in superstitions. They believe in sangoma who has to satisfy people’s demand for medicine in order to prevent any misfortunes from happening, prevent lightening, for good luck when carrying out some activities and other activities. Whereas the Inyanga treats physical disease, the Sangoma is concerned with the psychic world but may use similar media. The sangoma is charged with ascertaining the cause of bad events, of protecting the clan against evil spirits and of exposing antisocial individuals. In former times the training took approximately twenty five years.
Today, as a rule, the training period covers a span of five to seven years – in cities, frequently only several months. The sangoma may otherwise lead a normal life and perhaps have a second job. Zulu discomfort about missionary influence on women’s lives emerged in the context of widespread fear that missionaries exercised special powers by means of witchcraft. Although Mpande welcomed the Grouts at first, granting them permission to settle where they liked, hold religious services, and establish a school, he came to suspect those of malevolent magic (Porterfield, 1997).
Incorrectly thought of as the witch doctor, the inyanga is the doctor of the tribe – more correctly, the naturopath. Each inyanga trains his son and the information is thus passed on from generation to generation. Both plant and animal parts are used in the remedies and Zulu people will travel long distance to see an inyanga – in fact 80% of the Zulu population still consult inyangas. Remedies for unsatisfactory love lives and such things as protection against lightning are also dispensed. The Zulu people do not believe in fate and every event occurs for a reason.
Bad events are certainly the doings of witches, which have to be exposed and suffer an agonizing death for the good of the clan. Those accused rarely object as it is thought that their spirit can be taken over without their knowledge. Not only they but also their families were put to death, their belongings passing to the chief. Excessive wealth resulted in a person being high on the ‘hit list’ for the next exposure; therefore poverty ensured a longer life. They also had a strong belief on their ancestor’s potency.
In the 16th century the Zulu migrated southward to their present location, incorporating many of the customs of the San, including the well-known linguistic clicking sounds of the region (Giblin, 1998). Their cosmology is mainly characterized by God in many, diverse forms, which include uMvelingqangi, uNomkhubulwano and a god responsible for weather control especially, thunder. uMvelingqangi is a male god who is responsible for all life. They also believe in a female god who is responsible for the provision of food security especially through good harvests. This god is known as uNomkhubulwano.
Their other belief also includes ancestors who can have a vital, positive impact or effect on their families lives if they are appeased. In this early period-up to, perhaps, the 1920s earplugs were worn both as ornamentation and as markers of Zulu national identity. The former applied in situations such as courtship and family celebrations, the latter when earplugs formed a part of traditional apparel in encounters with people in authority, including Europeans, and on important occasions on which the wearers acted as representatives of the Zulu nation (Jolles, 1997).
Their other beliefs also entail the power of the natural world, mainly herbs and animals when made into medicine, which can be utilized to affect people either positively or negatively. In Zulu society, chiefs had priestly and magical responsibilities as well as social and political ones. Ancestral shades, or amadlozi, invested them with powers of fertility, authority, and military prowess, and they were expected to maintain a good communication with the shades (Porterfield, 1997). The Zulu people values are greatly influenced by their religious beliefs, which is Christianity.
Most of the Zulu people combine their customary, religious beliefs with Christianity. This means that they retain their traditional Christian beliefs of ancestor worship in correspondence with their Christianity. The values of the Zulu are based on the Christian teachings, and they are incorporated to how they live their lives. The intrinsic meaning of the ear-piercing ceremony was the acquisition of a social identity-and this applied equally to boys and girls. Qhumbuza marked “the first step from childhood to adulthood. It conferred a higher status on the child, who was now said to be “able to hear and understand and therefore his ears have been opened in order that he may hear well” (Krige, p. 85). 2 Conversely, “a person whose ears were not pierced was said to remain foolish and childish and good-for-nothing. “(Jolles, 1997) Social organization is all about the social structure of the Zulu people and how they lived. It is all about the roles of the diverse Zulu people in their ethnicity. For their time, the Zulu had a very intricate social and political organization. They had a hierarchy, with a king or chief at the apex.
The rise of the Zulu empire over a relatively short period of time, its powerful expansion over a wide territory, the overwhelming violence and terror involved, and the brutal European overthrow of the regime have long attracted scholarly attention from historians, anthropologists, and sociologists of African political systems (Deflem, 1999). His power was based on his genealogy and had a council that consisted of headmen or heads of important families. They helped carry out his orders and commands. Most Zulu’s belonged to the lowest political group and kinship organization called the umuzi.
Each umuzi was occupied by an elder and his extended family. The huts they lived in were organized by name lineages. The Chief lived in the largest hut in the tribe. Their social structure was traditional yet complex. The Zulu social structure had been well devised even before the arrival of the missionaries during the nineteenth century. The Zulu social organization is mostly based on respect, and this is where the Zulu etiquette came from. Before agriculture, societies were small and more or less isolated. Agriculture made large-scale societies possible.
Large-scale societies are characterized by the presence of specialists who do not produce food, internal and external trade for goods needed for subsistence, increased inequalities in status and wealth, and an intensification of resource use. Agricultural societies are complex and a complex division of labor arose. Non-food-producing members of society became specialists, such as craftsmen, religious leaders, soldiers, traders, and political elites, and bartered goods and services to meet their own subsistence needs. These specialists didn’t settle in farms but rather into urban centers, where markets sold the food they needed.
Eventually, urban centers became the heart of cultural innovations, the arts, and learning. Improvements in agriculture have allowed urban centers to attain a size and complexity never imagined just a few hundred years ago. Inequalities in status and wealth increase with this complexity. At the top levels of power in an agricultural society are the ruling elite who maintain law and order within a territory. Their power is sanctioned in a variety of ways, such as divine rule, accumulated wealth, or popular election. At the bottom levels of power are the food-producing people.
Everyone else is positioned somewhere between these two extremes. In some societies, foreigners and people who perform jobs that are considered especially dirty or sacrilegious, are essentially outside of this power structure and are generally considered non-humans. Order is maintained by a code of laws and judicial system that enforces laws and punishes those who break them. Third-party mediation, by specialists who practice law, replaces the one-on-one interactions found in foraging societies. In conclusion, the Zulu culture is one of the outstanding cultures in the state of South Africa.
The community is well known for its diverse complex organizations such as the economic organization, social organization and their values and beliefs. The ethnic group’s mode of subsistence, which is emerging agriculturalist, has impacted the way they live in terms of their economical organization, social organization and their beliefs and values making the community unique and different from other ethnic communities of South Africa. References Deflem, M. (1999). Warfare, political leadership, and state formation: The case of the Zulu kingdom, 1808-1879. Ethnology, 38(4), 371-391. Retrieved from http://search. roquest. com/docview/205102576? accountid=32521 Giblin, J. (Nov. 3, 1998). Zulu People. In Art & Life in Africa Online. Retrieved March, 2013, from http://www. uiowa. edu/~africart/toc/people/Zulu. html. Jolles, F. (1997). Zulu earplugs: A study in transformation. African Arts, 30(2), 46-59+. Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/docview/220957518? accountid=32521 Porterfield, A. (1997). The impact of early New England missionaries on women’s roles in Zulu culture. Church History, 66(1), 67-80. Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/docview/217480535? accountid=32521

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