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Historical and amazing facts about the zulu ethnic group in South Africa.

The Zulu people are the largest ethnic group in South Africa. They descended from East African origins and over centuries, migrated south during what is called the great Bantu migration.Their population is between ten and thirteen million . The Zulu rose into a formidable empire under the leadership of Shaka in the early 19th century. Under his leadership, the Zulu kingdom expanded and played an important role in the history of South Africa.

Over time, the Zulu developed a fearsome reputation that is still evident today. The Zulus of today are modern and progressive. While traditional clothing is reserved for special occasions, the Zulu retain strong connections with their ancestral and historical roots. As a people, the Zulu are said to be warm-hearted and hospitable and it is through them that the concept of Ubuntu emanated. Ubuntu states that we are people, not because of our individuality, but by virtue of our connections to other people, thus underlying the importance of relationships. The Zulu are also renowned for their skilled craftsmanship from earthenware pottery to weaving but most notably their beadwork. Bright colored beads are woven into intricate patterns that are highly decorative but also functional. The patterns and colors have meaning. For example, a triangle is the symbol used for a girl while an inverted triangle indicates a boy. Joined triangles tip-to-tip indicates a married man, while triangles joined base-to-base is a married woman. Each color comes replete with the duality of life and has both a negative and a positive connotation. For example, red is for love and passion but can also represent anger and heartache, similarly, blue is the color of faithfulness and request but also of hostility and dislike. The symbolism is complex and unique while also being functional and beautiful. It is no wonder then that curio shops from airports to cultural villages and tourist attractions around the country are all stocked with Zulu beadwork curios.

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