Who are the Zulus?
You may know that the Navajos are the biggest Native American tribe but with around 11 million people, the Zulus are the biggest ethnic group of South Africa! The Zulus are famous for their fierce warrior history and clever fighting skills, using spears, sticks, shields and clubs.
The Zulu people are traditionally ruled by a king and beneath him, chiefs rule the villages. The first and some say greatest Zulu king was Shaka Zulu (1787–1828). Shaka had a very hard childhood wandering from village to village with his mum but grew up to become a powerful, but brutal war leader.
One of the Zulus’ greatest victories was when they fought against the British army in 1879 during the Battle of Isandlwana. Even today, Zulu arguments between men are settled by a stick fight and boys learn to fight using small sticks from very young!
Life of a Zulu
In traditional Zulu life, a chief rules each village and men rule each household and look after the cattle. Women may be one of several wives and it’s their job to care for the children and home, tend crops and make beaded jewellery and containers. Villages and huts are arranged in a circle with a thorny fence around the outside and another thorny fence inside, to keep the animals safe.
Men and boys wear cow tails on their upper arms and knees and animal hides on their lower bodies with a headband if married — though only the most important, may wear the skin of the leopard! Girls wear beaded, grass skirts and animal hides as they grow up. Women also wear a ginormous hat made of cotton and grass which can be a meter and a half long!
Things that go bump in the night…
Okay okay, so maybe sometimes we do peek under our bed at night just to check the bogeyman isn’t hiding down there, but for the Zulu people, it’s a small zombie called the Tokoloshe that keeps beds raised up off the floor! And by the way, if ever you happen to call round after dark, don’t expect anyone to open their door…
By Deborah L. Caine (Whyzz writer)