The Zulu are the largest ethnic group to inhabit the South African continent. This historically rich tribe had political and military fortunes in the early 11th century.
The Zulu belong to the much larger Ngoni nation, are now about 11 million and are located
mainly in the area of the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. They speak isiZulu, a Bantu language belonging to the Nguni subgroup. Their name is derived from Amazulus, which means “people of the sky” in isiZulu.
The Zulu Kingdom played a major role in the history of 19th century South Africa. During the apartheid regime, they were regarded as inferior citizens; today they are the largest ethnic group in the country and enjoy the same rights as other South African citizens. In the past, these extraordinary warrior-people surprised and terrified entire armies. In the “Zulu triangle”, in the regions of Eshowe, Vryheid and Ladysmith, it is possible to walk the “road of battles” on the traces, still numerous, of the conflicts against the Boers and the British.
The Zulu practise polygamy and have an animistic religion, which is based on the survival of the spirit after death and on the cult of the ancestors. The familiar spirits can in fact intervene in the life of everyone, erasing diseases and pains or inflicting punishments: they are addressed with the help of soothsayers and the Sangoma, a mystical figure, usually, a woman, linked to traditional medicine and popular superstition. According to their beliefs, the Sangoma is a deep connoisseur of the human soul and highly respected by the community; she also reads the past and the present, communicates with the spirits, using roots, herbs, barks, snake skins.