Essay Sample on Zulu People of South Africa: Culture, Benefits, Traditions

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1564 Words
Date:  2023-05-07


Culture describes the social behavior and norms among human societies. It constitutes of beliefs, knowledge, customs, laws, and capabilities of individuals belonging to these groups. With the different countries in existence in the world today, cultural practices and beliefs vary from one nation to another. In South Africa, Zulu is the largest ethnic group that is of profound benefit to the economy, society, environment, traditions, heritage, and tourism. Zulu people of South Africa refer to themselves as the people of the heavens (Hooper n.p). Mainly, this means that they emanated from heaven. Zulu is the largest ethnic group in South Africa, with over 10 million people (Hooper n.p). The primary language spoken by the people in this culture is the isiZulu. Therefore, this paper analyzes the Zulu culture of South Africa and its influence in South Africa.

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King Shaka Zulu

One of the most iconic figures in the Zulu culture is King Shaka Zulu. The leader is always remembered for his fearless fights together with his warriors in a bid to protect his land. The king had shrewd military and implemented strategic factors that had a role to play in revolutionizing the Zulu tribe. More so, his tactics made an already powerful nation of South Africa to become indomitable. Through his initial moves, South Africa has managed to acquire tremendous victories over the enemies that have been deemed superior, especially in matters concerning technology. In addition to that, Hooper indicated that King Shaka Zulu designed new weapons that included a spear of different styles and the use of cowhide shields of the iron materials and wood (n.p). The training techniques were relentless hence forming an army constituting brave people willing to defend their tribe.

Consequently, King Shaka introduced ranking systems that motivated his soldiers to fight with courage. He offered them incentives in the new hierarchical structure. The move outsmarted his opponents hence earning the admiration and respect of his followers. The new formation of soldiers was adopted in South Africa. Currently, the country has soldiers holding different positions and ranks in the region. The government values its soldiers since the time of King Shaka Zulu. The braveness of the army was evident from their relentless fight for independence and their continued fight for dominance in the face of oppression from the outsiders. From this, one can see the influence of the Zulu culture, under the leadership of King Shaka Zulu, on the entire South African nation.

Beadwork Practices

The beadwork of the Zulu people is another essential cultural characteristic. Their beadwork is not only beautiful but also rich in meaning. The use of geometrical designs has a substantial role in ensuring that the beadwork remains gorgeous. The triangle and colors used to make the beads convey the sense. The colors could have a positive or negative meaning. The Zulu women who are frequently involved in the beadwork practices pass down those skills to generations. From this, it is clear that the beadwork practices practiced during the 17th and 18th centuries are still employed in the world today since those skills and cultural meanings are transferred from one generation to another as a means of cultural preservation.

The beads are usually colorful, and the white color symbolizes purity and love. However, other colors have both positive and negative meanings. Yellow means wealth or badness, as well. Red means real love or anger. The use of beads among the Zulu people is a language that helps them to express their ideas and feelings concerning people of the opposite sex. Asides from that, the color of the beadwork also represents one's mood with black showing mourning while green depicts contentment. In the past, the men from this tribe would rely on the beads worn by the women to understand critical messages such as whether or not the woman is married. In other instances, beadwork symbolizes one's gender and the number of children that a wearer had coupled up with their religion.

Similarly, the time used to make the beads is considered bonding time by most of the women. As Hooper asserted, women tend to spend time together, which strengthens their community bond (n.p). Mothers get a chance to nurture their daughters and inform them of what marriage life entails during the bead-making time. The beadwork practices have attracted tourists in the region of South Africa significantly. According to Hooper, major tourist routes in Kwa-Zulu Natal passes through areas where women sell beadwork along the roads (n.p). One of such places is referred to as Umgababa. The region is about 25 miles from Durban (Hooper n.p). The area serves as a favorite spot for most tourists and individuals on vacation to allow them to show for beadwork, woven baskets, crocheted tablecloths, and other curios for the indigenous Zulu people. In effect, this helps in driving the economy of the South African nation forward.

Presently, beads are made of plastic and glass to some extent. Tourists attend cultural celebrations and tourist attraction sites such as Shakaland or Dumazulu to see the Zulu-speaking persons dressed in beaded adornments. Shakaland is a place where tourists frequently visit to familiarize themselves with the Zulu culture. In contrast, Dumazulu is a museum where the traditional Zulu families reside and work. Visitors to the two places experience the traditions of the Zulus. Some of the traditions include the brewing of beer. Traditionally, Zulus would drink beer from beer pots made from clay. Women would make the pots, and they would be in different sizes. Tourists visit South Africa primarily to enjoy such traditions. Other traditions include spear making, hut building, the weaving of pots, and beadwork that tourists enjoy in Shakaland and Dumazulu.

Zulu Dance

Consequently, dancing and songs were a common aspect of the Zulu culture. Presently, South Africa is known for the musical genre characterized by harmonized voices and increased use of dancers. Mainly, one can see the influence of the traditional Zulu culture in South Africa from the impact of dance. The dance was performed during traditional ceremonies and is accompanied by vibrant singing and drum beating (Okigbo 176). The dancing was quite spectacular, particularly when the men and women singers and dancers were dressed in traditional attires. South Africa enjoys an improved economy due to the work of its artists who play a substantial role in ensuring that they maintain and preserve the culture. Thus, this attracts tourists and the sale of South African music worldwide.

Ubuntu Philosophy

Lastly, the Zulu culture has mostly influenced the values of the South Africans intensively. South Africans have a philosophy referred to as Ubuntu. The word means living a life characterized by generosity and pleasant disposition. The philosophical term challenges the people to live for themselves and exert personal effort in a bid to be successful. Primarily, Ubuntu emphasizes on the need for interconnectivity among persons. Ubuntu originated from the Zulus. The people from this tribe have proverbs that highlight the need for individuals to abide by this philosophy by changing their behavior, morals, manners, and life.

The philosophy has guided the South Africans significantly and has contributed to ensuring that the country witnessed significant political and economic growth. The philosophy is also witnessed in the leaders of the country, such as Mandela, who led the nation towards fighting for independence. Mandela recognized that humans were bound together in ways that an eye could not comprehend. The leader believed in oneness hence explaining why people should look out and care bound humanity for each other. The philosophy is also imminent in songs and compositions of the South Africans. Artists release songs preaching unity and oneness among humanity. Most peace and songs about integrity emanate from the South Africans and are played in most parts of the world today. From this, one can see that the influence of the Zulu is not only limited to South Africa, but it has also spread to different parts of the world. The Ubuntu philosophy has helped to ensure that South Africans remain united and peaceful.


The Zulu culture is one most influential cultures in South Africa. More so, it is the dominant culture in the region. Since the reigns of King Shaka Zulu, the Zulu people have exerted intensive influence on the South African nation. The king influenced militarization and proved that with great and warrior soldiers that have been motivated, the country could defeat any individual that poses harm to their ancestral land. Thus, the military of the region became hierarchical. In addition to that, the Zulus are involved in beadwork practices that have had a role to play in attracting tourists from different parts of the globe hence contributing to the improved economy of South Africa. Other influences are related to the dance and song compositions techniques of the Zulu that have infiltrated South Africa to influence their heritage and compositions substantially. South African music is characterized by harmonic sounds, dancers and singers, and dancers dressed in traditional and colorful attires. The final aspect is the influence of the Ubuntu philosophy of the Zulus in South Africa. The philosophy emphasizes unity and oneness.

Works Cited

Hooper, Ash. Five things we bet you don't know about the Zulu culture. 2017.

Okigbo Austin. Music and the politics of culture in a South African Zulu HIV/AIDS experience: Implications for "Post-Apartheid" discourse. Contemporary Africa, 2014, pp. 175-190. doi: 10.1057%2F9781137444134_8

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Essay Sample on Zulu People of South Africa: Culture, Benefits, Traditions. (2023, May 07). Retrieved from

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