Zulu beliefs about the Chameleon

The Powers of the Chameleon

The Zulu community is one of those communities with many beliefs. Some of the beliefs will be difficult to understand if you are not a Zulu culturally. But if one is afforded the opportunity of sitting next to a senior Zulu individual they will then see how serious the Zulus take these beliefs. Usually there is a history behind everything  that the Zulu community believes. There are beliefs that are attached to a particular creature. Whether the creature is harmful or not, the Zulu community shows a lot of respect towards that particular creature to an extent that some individuals might be afraid of such creatures.

A chameleon (unwabu in isiZulu) is one of the creatures that are respected by the Zulu community and usually you will find that most people are afraid of it. A chameleon is well known for its inability to move fast and it also has the power of changing its colour to match the colour of anything that is in its surroundings. It also possesses the power of striking anything that troubles it with its lightning fast tongue. These are the things that makes the Zulu community respect it.

The Zulus believe that once you anger a chameleon, to defend itself it will strike you with its lightning tongue. Some older people have witnessed many deaths that were the result of the chameleon’s lightning strike and the elders have confirmed that a chameleon’s tongue possesses the lightning power.

Another belief that is attached to a chameleon is that in ancient times God sent the chameleon with a message to man that human beings should not die but, instead of rushing to deliver the message, it wasted time feeding itself on grass (umkhwebezane is a Zulu name of the grass). Whilst on the way, the chameleon was overtaken by its enemy, the green headed lizard (intulo in isiZulu) which was also sent to deliver a message that human beings should die.

IsiZulu Summary

Izinkolelo zesintu ngonwabu

Thina amaZulu singezinye sezizwe ezikholwela kakhulu ezintweni eziningi. Okunye kwalezinkolelo kunzima ukukuqonda uma ungawaqondi amasiko ethu. Uma uthole ithuba lokuthi ube seduze nomuntu omdala ozokuxoxela umlando ngezinkolelo ezithize kuningi ongakufunda. Kunezinkolelo eziphathelene nezilwane, lokhu kungaba ukuthi isilwane siyahlonishwa kakhulu noma siyesatshwa.

Esinye salezilwane unwabu. Luyahlonishwa kakhulu futhi ungathola nokuthi abanye abantu bayalusaba. Unwabu lwaziwa ngokuhamba kancane kanye nangokuthi linombani elizilwela ngawo uma kukhona okulihluphayo, okungaba umuntu noma isilwane. Abanye abantu abadala bayaxoxa ngokufa kwabantu bebulawa amandla onwabu. Enye futhi inkolelo ethinta unwabu ukuthi esikhathini sakudala, uNkulunkulu wathuma unwabu ukuthi luyotshela abantu ukuthi ngeke bafe. Unwabu lwahamba kancane njengenjwayelo, luzidlela ubukhwebezane. Seluhambile isikhathi eside, kwathunywa nentulo nomyalezo ophikisa onikwe unwabu. Intulo yaludlula unwabu luzidlela utshani lwafika kuqala kubantu lwadlulisa umyalezo.

Written by Ntokozo Tshapa

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