AmaZizi: the Dlamini of Southern Africa

In much of Western society, surnames are simply ways of identifying people, a way of differentiating one person from another, but in Zulu culture a name means so much more – a surname might have a different praise name used to show respect, that tells the story of a person’s lineage, and the importance of their family members. So Zulu names are very significant to Zulu history, the details of which aren’t always recorded in writing. For this reason the author of AmaZizi: the Dlamini of Southern Africa felt it necessary to write down the stories told to him by his grandfather that detailed the history of the Dlamini people, and more specifically the AmaZizi. The book, which is now in its second edition, traces the genealogy of the AmaZizi and looks at cultural issue such as animal sacrifices, circumcision and female coming-of-age initiation ceremonies.

In the words of Professor Jeff Peires of Rhodes University, “Where university historians have fallen short, Jongisilo Pokwana ka Menziwa has addressed the key historical issues, which really matter. This is indeed history of the people, for the people and by the people.”

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