Essay about The Zulu Clan

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The Zulu Clan

In the 1820's, during a period of social unrest and warfare, the Zulu clan, a Bantu people, rose to political prominence under the great King Shaka in present-day South Africa. This period is called mfecane, or "crushing" because it was characterized by Shaka's tyrannous reign during which he conquered neighboring peoples and established a kingdom for the Zulu people on South Africa's eastern coast. The word "zulu" was used in 1824 to refer to " a war-like race of South African Blacks". (Ngubane, 1977) The British characterization of Shaka as a monster, however, is now seen as a propagandist attempt to disguise their own interests in procuring land and labor in the region. In fact, much of the violent disruption
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Considering the social trauma associated with colonialism and apartheid the Zulu responded by clinging more tenaciously to their heritage as a means of psychological survival in a society which systematically degraded and disrespected them as a people. Berglund (1976) points out that it is the rituals and symbols of a society which express the relationships between members of that society and makes living in that society a meaningful experience. The focus of this paper will be centered on traditional Zulu spiritual beliefs and, to whatever extent possible, not those adapted to Western thought. In providing first the basic cosmological beliefs and then moving on to the central theme of traditional spiritual beliefs involving deceased ancestors and their role in Zulu society, my goal will be to demonstrate how social harmony is maintained as a result of the observance of these spiritual beliefs and practices. According to traditional belief, uMveliqangi, the Lord of the Sky, emerged full-blown from the reeds in the realm of the sky. Man later emerged from the reeds and was let down to earth through a hole in the floor of the sky. This explains the origin of the Zulu clan name, zulu meaning "of the sky". The Lord of the Sky then sent a chameleon down to earth to tell the people that they will not die. Later on, he sent a

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