Culture is something that is dynamic. We talk about ‘preserving’ culture, but in truth culture is something that is always changing and adapting, so at best we are are recording culture at a point in time. One of the stories that Nqobile researched last month is a good illustration of this point. In contemporary Zulu culture a woman is supposed to dress in black for the year after her husband passes away. It is a custom that is quite strictly adhered to, with families sometimes threatening to disown widows who won’t abide by the dress code. But in truth, it seems that this is an adaptation of a western tradition where mourners wear black to signify their status. In days gone by mourning Zulu widows would remove their decorative beads, and instead where their husband’s shirt as a sign of respect. In some areas women also wore a piece of cloth that covered the front part of their bodies, from their bust to just above their knees.
Click on the links below to read more about this and other stories that Nqobile wrote about during the month May:
- Umehluko Phakathi Kwesiko Nomkhuba nezibonelo (The difference between customs and culture – mourning clothes worn by Zulu widow)
- Ukugezwa Kweladi ebandleni laseZiyoni (Cleansing ceremony performed by a young woman in a church of Zion)
- Imincintiswano yesintu eyenziwa emakhaya yengoma (Traditional dance competitions in rural areas)
Photograph courtesy of The National