Saturday, April 28, 2012

Z is for Zulu

The Zulu are a South African ethnic group of an estimated 17-22 million people who live mainly in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

A patriarchal society, the gender roles of Zulu are clearly delineated, with the boys and men organized as warriors in support of the king. The Zulu Kingdom played a major role in South African History during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Under apartheid, Zulu people were classed as third-class citizens and suffered from state sanctioned discrimination.

 Today, they are the most numerous ethnic group in South Africa, and have equal rights along with all other citizens. They are famous for their bead work, which is not only beautiful but traditionally the patterns were used for communication. Their music also has become popular worldwide.

When my family and I were in South Africa a few years ago, we had the opportunity to meet several Zulu women.  They were working in a cooperative making beautiful bead work while their young children attended pre-school on the premises.

This is a win-win situation for all concerned.  The women are helping support their children, who are learning in a structured safe environment. 

The bead work made by the Zulu women is some of the finest of its kind in the world.  An empowering situation for the mothers and a nurturing environment for their young children.  What could be better for these worthy and proud people!    




  1. I remember the movie,Zulu. If I recall correctly, it showed the Zulu warriors as being not just fierce and brave but honoring bravery in their enemies. Thanks, Nancy, for this informative post and the beautiful pictures.

  2. You're right on all points, Barbara. They were known as the fiercest in all Africa and the proudest. Shaka Zula was the stuff legends are made from, and the tribe is still proud of him.

    Thanks, as usual, so much for leaving a comment!

  3. What an interesting culture and beautiful crafts!

  4. Truly fascinating and absolutely beautiful!