The Zulu (/zuːluː/; Zulu: amaZulu) are a Bantu ethnic group of Southern Africa and the largest ethnic group in South Africa, with an estimated 10–12 million people living mainly in the province of KwaZulu-Natal,located along the Indian Ocean coast. The Pongola River bordered the Zulu kingdom on the north and the Tugela River on the south. The kingdom was extensive and dominated the areas of the current day Southern Africa and KwaZulu-Natal
Origins of Zulu people and Kingdom
The Zulu were originally a major clan in what is today Northern KwaZulu-Natal, founded in 1709 by Zulu kaMalandela.
Zulu kaMalandela (1627–1709), is the son of Malandela,founder and chief of the Zulu clan which came from the Nguni people. The Nguni people was divided after the death of Malandela their king into Zulus and the Qwabes, the two sons.
After the kings death, The older son Qwabe fought his younger brother Zulu, causing Zulu along with his people (Zulus) to be exiled from the land of Ngunis and Mambos and they became wanderers (izinzula) into northern land of the Ngunis and settled in a country known today as Mozambique.(wikipedia)
Shaka Ruler of the Zulu Kingdom
The Zulu formed a powerful state in 1818, under the leader Shaka and he created a great empire exceedingly large covering an area of around 11,500 square miles (30,000 km2).
Shaka Zulu was the illegitimate son of Senzangakona, King of the Zulus. He was born in 1787. He and his mother, Nandi, were exiled by Senzangakona, and found refuge with the Mthethwa. Shaka fought as a warrior under Jobe, and then under Jobe’s successor, Dingiswayo, leader of the Mthethwa Paramountcy. When Senzangakona died, Dingiswayo helped Shaka become chief of the Zulu Kingdom. After Dingiswayo’s death at the hands of Zwide, king of the Ndwandwe, around 1818, Shaka assumed leadership of the entire Mthethwa alliance.
Shaka, as the Zulu commander of the Mthethwa Empire and successor to Dingiswayo, united what was once a confederation of tribes into an imposing empire under Zulu hegemony. Shaka built a militarised system known as Impi featuring conscription, a standing army, new weaponry, regimentation, and encirclement battle tactics. Zulu expansion was a major factor of the Mfecane (“Crushing”) that depopulated large areas of southern Africa.
Shaka initiated many military, social, cultural and political reforms, forming a well-organized and centralised Zulu state. The most important reforms involved the transformation of the army, through the innovative tactics and weapons, and a showdown with the spiritual leadership, witchdoctors, effectively ensuring the subservience of the “Zulu church” to the state
Another important reform integrated defeated clans into the Zulu, on a basis of full equality, with promotions in the army and civil service becoming a matter of merit rather than due to circumstances of birth.
The alliance under his leadership survived Zwide’s first assault at the Battle of Gqokli Hill (1818). Within two years, Shaka had defeated Zwide at the Battle of Mhlatuze River (1820) and broken up the Ndwandwe alliance, some of whom in turn began a murderous campaign against other Nguni tribes and clans, setting in motion what became known as Defecane or Mfecane, a mass-migration of tribes fleeing the remnants of the Ndwandwe fleeing the Zulu. By 1825, Shaka had conquered an empire covering an area of around 11,500 square miles (30,000 km2).
Modern Zulu Population
The modern Zulu population is fairly evenly distributed in both urban and rural areas. Although KwaZulu-Natal is still their heartland, large numbers have been attracted to the relative economic prosperity of Gauteng province. Indeed, Zulu is the most widely spoken home language in the province, followed by Sotho.
Language of Zulu people
The language of the Zulu people is “isiZulu”, a Bantu language; more specifically, part of the Nguni subgroup. Zulu is the most widely spoken language in South Africa, where it is an official language. More than half of the South African population are able to understand it, with over 9 million first-language and over 15 million second-language speakers. Many Zulu people also speak Xitsonga, Sesotho and others from among South Africa’s 11 official languages.
Taditional Clothing of Zulu people
Zulus wear a variety of attire, both traditional for ceremonial or culturally celebratory occasions, and modern westernized clothing for everyday use. The women dress differently depending on whether they are single, engaged, or married. The men wore a leather belt with two strips of hide hanging down front and back.
Religion and beliefs
Most Zulu people state their beliefs to be Christian. Some of the most common churches to which they belong are African Initiated Churches, especially the Zion Christian Church, [Nazareth Baptist Church] and United African Apostolic Church, although membership of major European Churches, such as the Dutch Reformed, Anglican and Catholic Churches are also common. Nevertheless, many Zulus retain their traditional pre-Christian belief system of ancestor worship in parallel with their Christianity.
Zulu religion includes belief in a creator God (uNkulunkulu) who is above interacting in day-to-day human life, although this belief appears to have originated from efforts by early Christian missionaries to frame the idea of the Christian God in Zulu terms. Traditionally, the more strongly held Zulu belief was in ancestor spirits (amaThongo or amaDlozi), who had the power to intervene in people’s lives, for good or ill. This belief continues to be widespread among the modern Zulu population.
Traditionally, the Zulu recognize several elements to be present in a human being: the physical body (inyama yomzimba or umzimba); the breath or life force (umoya womphefumulo or umoya); and the “shadow,” prestige, or personality (isithunzi). Once the umoya leaves the body, the isithunzi may live on as an ancestral spirit (idlozi) only if certain conditions were met in life. Behaving with ubuntu, or showing respect and generosity towards others, enhances one’s moral standing or prestige in the community, one’s isithunzi. By contrast, acting in a negative way towards others can reduce the isithunzi, and it is possible for the isithunzi to fade away completely.
In order to appeal to the spirit world, a diviner (sangoma) must invoke the ancestors through divination processes to determine the problem. Then, a herbalist (inyanga) prepares a mixture (muthi) to be consumed in order to influence the ancestors. As such, diviners and herbalists play an important part in the daily lives of the Zulu people. However, a distinction is made between white muthi (umuthi omhlope), which has positive effects, such as healing or the prevention or reversal of misfortune, and black muthi (umuthi omnyama), which can bring illness or death to others, or ill-gotten wealth to the user. Users of black muthi are considered witches, and shunned by the society.
Source : wikipedia