Author Archive | Ulwazi Programme

A Zulu maiden with ceremonial hair

The Art of Hair Continued

Earlier on we considered the idea that hairstyles can be influenced by more than just aesthetics. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to find a comprehensive collection of images of Zulu hairstyles anywhere, but below are some of the images that are currently available online. If anyone else has images to add to these please leave your […]

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Shani Crowe, Braids, 2016

The Art of Hair

Social class, functionality, politics and fashion all play a part in the way that women style their hair, with fashions changing in relation to themes such as feminism, emancipation and economic freedom. With such important ideas to explore, artists have long been interested in this subject, with some incredible photographs emerging over the years in relation […]

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A traditional ukhamba by Zanele Nala

Ukhamba & Amasumpa

Last week we wrote about utshwala and the order in which it is drunk. Today we’ll look at the significance of the decoration of ukhamba, the pots used for drinking traditional beer. In recent years these beer pots have become sought after decor items. But while they may be very attractive, the decoration isn’t purely for aesthetic […]

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Utshwala, Food for the Soul

Like the leopard skins that we discussed here, beer (utshwala or umqomboti) has strong links to the customs of Zulu speakers. Traditionally made exclusively by women, beer used to be a staple part of diet in the nineteenth century, with King Cetshwayo apparently referring to it as ‘the food of the Zulus’. Today the brewing and […]

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The Importance of the Leopard

The leopard skin is an iconic symbol in Zulu culture. A man dressed in a traditional leopard pelt, or amambatha, is easily recognised as Zulu. The leopard (ingwe) is revered by the Zulus, who consider the cat a totem animal blessed with special powers, but according to Lizwe Ncwane, a senior member of the Shembe church, the power […]

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Last month we celebrated Africa Day on the 25th May. The day, which is recognised internationally, commemorates the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity (now known as the African Union), which took place on the 25th May 1963. Part of the motivation for the day is for Africa (and Africans) to tell their own stories, […]

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