Eating a cow’s lung – Indigenous game

Mr. B Nzuza of KwaThayela, Maphumulo says that the lung is one of the internal organs of an animal located near the heart. In a Zulu tradition, this part was given to the herd boys to eat if a cow was slaughtered.


1 The person consulted
2 Who plays this game?
3 What is used to play the game?
4 When is the game played?
5 Where is the game played?
6 How is the game played?
7 Source

Who was consulted?
The researcher spoke to Mr. B Nzuza who gave an explanation about the procedure followed to consume this meat.

Who plays the game?
This game was open to all the boys of the area around the homestead where a cow was slaughtered.

What is used to play the game?
Boys will take the lung from the homestead where a cow was slaughtered. Each boy will bring his two sticks.

When is the game played?
This game takes place at any time when a cow has been slaughtered.

Where is the game played?
The lung is consumed in the hillside. The boys pick the spot when they have received the lung.

How is the game played?
During the day the boys will go to the homestead where a cow has been slaughtered. They will be given the lung and then more to the pastures. They would pick a good spot and make fire to roast their meat. The lung usually comes together with the heart of the cow. The heart normally has extra fat which are removed before roasting and are roasted at the end.

All the boys share the lung, even the young ones. The heart fat which is roasted last is contended for. This fat would be propped up with a stick and it was announced that the one to eat this would have to be the one who is confident and believing himself to be stronger than the rest of the boys. This person would snatch the heart fat and the rest of the boys will attack him with their sticks. He would ward off the blows and sometimes fail to defend himself since they all attack him at simultaneously. If he succeeds to ward off their blows and attack back and wins he then eats the heart fat and be recognised as a valorous boy.

When they have finished eating they then perform war antics and create praises for themselves. When they return to the homestead they chant war songs and proceed like a regiment. They chant, “Hamba mdayi siye kithi, sibulal’ izwe lamankengane, Awu—-wu! Awu—-wu!”. They will proceed until they enter the kraal. In the kraal there would be adult males eating the cow’s head. You would then hear the elders praising their sons with praises such as, “Shebeleza wemashebeleza Nsimbi edla ezinye”. (Extracted from N W Mvume – UDW).

The boys will take their place opposite the grown ups in the kraal. Once seated, they would start performing war antics. The men will encourage boys by continuously chanting praises to them. Boys were then given cooked meat which included the nose and lip of the cow which are regarded as boy’s meat.

From a Masters dissertation by Victoria Mkhize for the School of IsiZulu, University of KwaZulu-Natal. Supervised by Professors P.J. Zungu and V. Prabhakaran.

Leave a Reply