South Africa, there are several different cultures that have different
ways of life. Today, one of the largest tribes is called the Zulu tribe.
They have a very interesting lifestyle, and a major part of that is
their ceremonies such as weddings and the
coming of age ceremony.
Zulu weddings differ a great deal from the traditional
weddings of today. Family is very ordered in the Zulu tribes, as each
member of the family has certain responsibilities that they are expected
to fulfill. Because of this, the wedding is quite significant in
starting the family. In many weddings there are no invitations sent out.
The word gets around the village about the wedding and many people
arrive to take part. Since no formal invitations are sent out, no dress
code is specified however people know what ceremonies and celebrations
will be performed as it is their culture, and they know what to wear for
them. The weddings may seem relaxed to Westerners though there are also
rules at ceremonies that must be followed.
People gathering to take part in the ceremonies.
Zulu weddings are all different and depending on the culture of the
particular tribe, they usually have different ceremonies. Zulu's
generally do not believe in Western religions: they believe in
traditions and rituals that have been passed down from generation to
generation. Though some Zulu people are Christians, so many weddings
take place in a church. The bride usually wears a white wedding dress.
Though this is not mandatory, the brides usually prefer to wear white as
it symbolizes purity. The wedding is a long process of rituals including
dancing and singing. In these, the women wear lots of beads as well as
very colourful skirts and feathers. The clothing is usually very little
or loose so that it is easy for them to dance throughout the ceremonies.
The men, women, and children of the tribe performing rituals.
Once the needed rituals are done at the church, the rest of the wedding
takes place at the husband and wife’s home. During the ceremonies, the
bride is accepted into the groom’s family. The bride shows her
appreciation by giving gifts to her new family members. The wife changes
her clothes many times through the duration of the wedding. She wears
many different traditional outfits with a variety of colours to show her
new family how beautiful she is and how intricate the beading is on her
dress, as well as its design. The intricacy of the beading shows the
women’s desire and ability to be a good wife, and new edition to the
family. Even the members of each side of the family compete in different
tasks, and the way they dress also shows the other family how well
presented they are.
Coming of Age Ceremony
In the Zulu tribe, young boys and girls go through a stage
of initiation where they enter adulthood. Boys start their initiation at
the age of around 16 – 18. The male initiation process is circumcision.
The boys are taken into an isolated area and stay in grass huts. They
only wear one small piece of clothing around the waist before
circumcision. No one is allowed to see them with the exception of the
older women relatives to give the boys food and to watch out for them.
After the process of being circumcised, the boys were said to be
“cleaned”. They were given new clothes (mainly animal hide made by the
older women) to show that they had a fresh new look. After that they
went back to their tribe, and were now seen as men and were accepted by
the members of the tribe. The clothing they wore showed how confident
they were to be men.
A boy has changed into a man and has entered his tribe with new
The girls initiation was much more complex and took longer.
When they had “become of age” and their menstrual cycle had started,
their initiation began. This varied for girls of different ages
depending on their maturity. First she had to collect the roots of the
rubia cordifolia shrub. Sometimes they even used these
roots to make clothing. Then she would mix this porridge and would have
to eat if for seven days. During this time she would stay in her mothers
hut, and her mother would take care of her. As she was hidden her
clothing did not mean too much, but when she came out she was expected
to look clean and renewed.
The young women of the tribe performing dancing
After as long as two or three months it was time for the girls
initiation to be final. It is a long process where the young girl stays
in her mothers hut for sometimes as long as a number of weeks. While she
is in the hut she passes time by doing tasks that she will have to learn
to be a good wife, like weaving baskets, and beading clothing. In the
hut she is allowed to have one friend stay with her and was not seen by
people other than her mother. The sisters of the young girl gather some
friends and they use grass to twist it into costumes for the ceremonies
when their sister comes out. Once it was time, the young girls were
allowed back into society and then wore their costumes. They sang and
danced in the rituals as the initiation was nearly over. The next day
the girls wore their costumes to perform one last dance and the grass
costumes are burned. This showed that they had finally become a woman.
Initiation is a major part of the Zulu culture, showing that they are
starting a new stage of their life. They must also look beautiful
afterwards with new clothing, showing they have matured into women.
A young girl has changed into a woman and is being blessed by her