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Anthropology Research Paper on Zulu Culture Name of the Student and Number Research Paper on Zulu Culture Introduction The Zulu are the largest ethnic group in South Africa; they are “a pastoral people in the southern end of the eastern cattle area of Africa” (Hatcher, 1999, p.285)…
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Download file to see previous pages The cycle of the livestock forms the key determinant of pastoralists’ daily and seasonal lives (Nowak & Laird, 2010). Among the Zulu and some other pastoral cultures, agriculture forms a supplement to developing animal products (Nowak & Laird, 2010). However, Gluckman (1963, p.81), argues that although “the Zulu, Tswana, Ankoke, Kavirondo, and Nuer are grouped as pastoral-agriculturalists”, complex patterns emerge from an interweaving of their ecological setting, the distribution of their settlements, division of labor, and other factors that form their culture. The Zulu utilise their animals not only for their own subsistence, but also in social and ritual occasions. Similar to the Masai of Kenya, although there is emphasis on music, dancing, elaborate beadwork, and oral narratives, there is little significance for the visual arts in the Zulu culture (Hatcher, 1999). Livestock represent wealth and prestige; they are exchanged as a part of marital gift-giving, and are used for settling disputes, as well as for ceremonial sacrifices. The community develops close emotional attachments to their livestock, and rarely slaughter their animals for food. Due to a lack of storage facilities and preservation techniques, pastoralists such as the Zulu have a reciporcal system of distributing the animals they butcher to other members of the group for immediate consumption (Nowak & Laird, 2010). Pastoralism as the primary mode of subsistence impacts several dimensions of cultural behavior among the Zulus. Thesis Statement: The purpose of this paper is to investigate how the pastoral mode of subsistence impacts different aspects of the cultural behavior of the Zulu tribe of Africa. In this context, their beliefs and values, gender relations, and political organization will be examined. Beliefs and Values of the Zulu Tribe The ancestor cult of the Zulus is based on the lineage and kinship system distinguishing Zulu life. Ritual sacrifices form an inherent part of ceremonial rites among the tribe. Lambert (1993) attributes sacrifice to its origins in the ritualisation of the palaeolithic hunt. The contradictory features regarding people deeply attached to their animals is that there is no trace of guilt or anxiety at ritual killings among the Zulus. The author states that in both Zulu as well as ancient Greek sacrifices, misleading emotional factors are imbued, which may actually be absent from individual sacrifices. Hence, “explanations offered in terms of origins or formative antecedents are fraught with speculative problems and throw no light on the motivation for sacrifice” (Lambert, 1993, p.293) of livestock. The African cosmological understanding of life, death, and creation include the relationship of humankind with nature and the natural phenomena as their core issues (Monteiro-Ferreira, 2005). According to Asante (1998, p.89), “the organizing principle of human society, the creative spirit of phenomena, and the eternal order of the universe” is Ma’at, which depicted the basic principle of creation as the equilibrium of opposites, the universe being regulated by the force of the perfectly established energy. Through the tradition of the oral narrative passed on from one generation to the next, these cosmological and ethical concepts were recreated to symbolize the spirit of the ancestors, which were considered very significant by the Zulus. Thus, Unkulunkulu is the ancient concept of a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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