South Africa is blessed with rich cultures, one of which is the Zulu traditional wedding ceremony. South African wedding traditions and customs is filled with a lot of rites and rituals.
This is done to appease the ancestors to guide and protect the newlyweds on their quests towards the marital journey.
The Zulus are one of Africa’s largest ethnic group. To help with this article; I had a chat with Siyabonga a Zulu descendant who lives here in London. Here is his account of the prestigious Zulu traditional wedding ceremony.
A Zulu wedding, like most African weddings, is filled with a lot of colors, music, dance, and food.
African weddings are characterized by large people in attendance. The whole community or even the village at large could be at your wedding. So don’t border printing invites.
A Zulu Traditional Wedding Customs
When a man is ready for marriage and finds someone he wants to marry. He discusses his intention with his babakazi, father’s sister or Malume his mother’s brother’s wife or an older woman who is married.
They are the ones saddled with the responsibility to relate the issue with the groom’s father. The same goes for the bride too. A spokesperson Idombo will be elected to represents the groom at a meeting, which is held at the bride’s home.
The bride’s people in turn also elect their spokesperson that will convey their demands to the Idombo on what is required, for the dowry.
The groom’s parent gets the dowry items requested by the bride’s family. These items will be presented on the date agreed by both families – Zulu traditional wedding dowry most times contains the following items, but not limited to;
- “Nkomo” two fat cows,
- Money for in-laws (parents brothers and sisters),
- money for “ukangaziwe” meaning now you know us,
- “Amalobolo” mother cow given to the bride’s mother,
- “Impahla” consists of clothes, shoes for the bride’s father and mother.
After the dowry has been settled, the date for the wedding ceremony or Umabo will be scheduled.
The Wedding Ceremony or Umabo
At the wedding ceremony, the bride is decorated with red and white designs on her legs and arms. Bags of pebbles are tied to her ankles (for rhythmic sound during dancing).
She wears a veil made of beads and twisted fig leaves, a goat’s hair fringe is worn around her neck. She is also covered with a blanket.
On the wedding day, A Zulu bride can change into three different outfits, this is done to show to her in-laws her beauty in different styles and colors.
Zulu wedding ceremonies do take place at the Groom’s family compound. When the bride arrives at her in-law’s house, her father-in-law welcomes her. She will then sit on a matt (with her bridesmaids by her side).
Under the Zulu traditional wedding, she is instructed not to say a word to anyone as this a sign of respect.
The bride and her husband will be given words of wisdom by the elders not just for marriage, but for life as well.
After that, the bride and her bridesmaids bring gifts (Furniture, Television and other household equipment), these will be presented to the groom’s family.
The bride will then dance to celebrates her wedding. In Zulu traditional wedding, the bride is expected to show her skills in bed making in front of the whole family to demonstrate that she’s capable of performing her duties as a wife.
In the end, the wedding party can start. There will be a funfair, a lot of food and drink for the guests and everyone presents at the ceremony.
The children and the elderly will dance and cheers the couple as the wedding ceremony draws to a conclusion.