Essay on Zulu Religion

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Zulu Religion

Religion in the broadest sense may be defined as man's attitude towards the unseen, and the earliest forms of human thought furnish the clue from which must be traced the development of those great systems of religion that have at different time periods been professed by certain groups of people. The term religion must also include, not only beliefs in unseen spiritual agencies, but numerous customs, superstitions, and myths which have usually been regarded by the people of the specific society or community. As far as, Zulu religion goes, there are many different opinions about the origin and historical content. Since many of the beliefs and traditions were passed orally, there are no written records of the
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"This is not descriptive of Zulu concepts which, as the study will be showing, assume a very close and intimate relationship and association with the lineage between the departed and their survivors"(29). Even though there are doubts about Zulu traditional religion, most studies appear to confirm the fact that belief in a sky deity is and always has been central to Zulu religious thought. "Unkulunkulu (the old, old one) is the Creator of First Cause. If a Zulu is asked about the origin of man and the world, he will say Unkulunkulu the Zulu people believe in a power which they call "Heaven" or "The Lord of Heaven"(Krige 282). Other researchers argue that "all the Bantu further have some conception, generally rather vague, of a supreme power. . . The Zulu have a sky god. . . the Lord of Heaven"(Shapera 262). Quite clearly the existence of a Zulu belief in a sky deity is well established in the literature on both the Zulu people in particular and African religions in general. The earliest period of recorded contact between Zulu and European cultures gives some information about Zulu religious beliefs. This evidence, however, is culturally bias because of the European stereotypes and expectations. Nathaniel Isaacs, a European trader, visited Shaka, the Zulu king, and developed a strong friendship with him. In gratitude for assistance in a battle against his enemies Shake made him a minor chief,

eventually granting him a strip of land around the coast
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