With rich landscapes, beautiful sceneries, history, people, culture and majestic crafts, in Africa lies abundant wealth even untapped. One tribe in the Southern part of Africa that has gained prominence over several generations across the globe is the Zulu tribe.
The Zulu are a Bantu ethnic group of Southern Africa, and with an estimated population of about 10-11 million people living mainly in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, they are the largest ethnic group in South Africa.
Apart from their presence in South Africa, they are also dispersed in other parts of Southern Africa. They are in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique.
Zulu tribe clothing inspires images of rich colours and style. However, The Zulu’s clothing style depends on whether they are single, engaged or married.
Unmarried Women who are ‘available’ are proud of displaying their figure. Usually, they wear a short skirt made of grass or beaded cotton strings and put on a lot of creative beads. Clothing for Zulu girls is mainly made of beadwork and is usually revealing. They also wear ‘Isidwaba’, a pleated skirt made of cowhide and softened by hand. Younger women sometimes decorate their skirts with beads.
An engaged Zulu woman will let her traditionally short hair grow. They cover their breast with a decorative cloth. This shows respect for her future husband and family.
A married woman covers her body completely signalling to other men that she is taken. When a young girl gets married, she then has to wear certain coloured beads in her hair and around her skirt so that everyone in the village can see that she is married.
Zulu Men’s Attire
While a headband is used only by married men, the leopard hide is also an important part of the traditional Zulu clothing worn by men of elevated social positions.
The men also wear ‘Ibeshu’ which is rear apron made from calf skin (from stillborn or dead calves). Those of young men involved in active pursuits are knee length whilst those of the older men are ankle length. The ‘amaShoba’ are cow tails worn on the upper arms and below the knees to give the appearance of greater bulk to the body. ‘IsiNene’ is the front apron, consisting of coin sized circular skin patches sewn closely together to add weight and cover the male genitals while the ‘inJobo’ are long animal skins worn on the hips.
– Toyosi Salami (Contributor)