top of page

Zulu Traditions and Etiquette

Pictured below the Zulu Royal family. When visiting South Africa I had the honor of staying with a Zulu family who expected me to behave as family not as a guests. I was given light chores to do such as making Amazi. Amazi is the drink of choice preferred by Zulu people. To behave as part of the family is proper etiquette in Zulu culture. Continue reading to learn more etiquette rules as it relates to Zulu culture.

Zulu etiquette in Africa is influenced by the cultural traditions and customs of the Zulu people, who are one of the largest ethnic groups in South Africa. Here are some key aspects of Zulu etiquette:

1. Greetings: Greeting is an important part of Zulu etiquette. When meeting someone, it is customary to greet them with a handshake and a warm smile. Zulu people often use the phrase "Sawubona" (meaning "I see you") as a common greeting.

2. Respect for elders: Zulu culture places a strong emphasis on respect for elders. It is important to show deference and listen attentively when elders are speaking. This includes avoiding interrupting them and using respectful language.

3. Dress code: Traditional Zulu attire is often worn for special occasions and cultural events. This may include colorful beaded accessories, traditional skirts for women (known as "isidwaba"), and animal skins for men. However, in modern urban areas, Western-style clothing is more commonly worn.

4. Dining etiquette: When attending a Zulu meal, it is customary to wash your hands before eating. Zulu meals often involve communal eating, with people sharing from a central plate or bowl. It is polite to wait for the host to start eating before you begin, and to eat with your right hand.

5. Gift giving: Zulu culture values the act of gift giving. When visiting someone's home, it is customary to bring a small gift, such as a traditional Zulu craft, fruit, or a token of appreciation. Gifts are often presented with both hands as a sign of respect.

6. Communication: Zulu people value open and direct communication. It is important to be clear and honest in your interactions. However, it is also important to maintain a level of politeness and avoid confrontational or aggressive behavior.

7. Traditional ceremonies: Zulu culture is rich in traditional ceremonies and rituals. It is important to respect and follow the customs and protocols associated with these events. This may include observing traditional dances, participating in rituals, and dressing appropriately for the occasion.

It is important to note that Zulu etiquette may vary among individuals and regions within the Zulu community. When interacting with Zulu people, it is always best to show respect, ask for guidance if unsure, and be open to learning and understanding their cultural practices.

bottom of page