I have been lucky enough to travel to South Africa on a recent school trip. It took two years of fundraising by all the young people and their parents to gather enough money to give 36 fourteen to fifteen year old students this amazing experience.
It wasn’t just a holiday, we were also there to learn about the culture and compare children growing up in South Africa to children like us, growing up in the UK. We visited the area around Durban which is in the Zulu part of South Africa. We also had the opportunity to go into schools and orphanages to compare their lives to ours. We got to chat, play games and just get to know a lot of different people coming from hard backgrounds.
Within the two weeks we were out there we had visited a lot of different places in and around Durban. One of them places was a traditional Zulu village. We all sat in a very large open top hut and they put on a show for us. They showed us how two Zulu citizens would get married and they sang and danced for us. I managed to get a few decent shots of the dancing.
The dancers were dancing to a loud drum beat and sometimes they contributed to the music by shouting in Zulu. In some of the photos you can see the male dancers had short spear type things and shields whilst the female dancers wore colourful hats.
Music, song, and dancing have always been an important part of Zulu life and culture. Dancing has always been a very integral part of Zulu tradition. Group dancing helps form a solidarity, especially during times of ceremony, weddings, or a coming of age and it can be very joyful and vibrant.
Zulu are renowned for their craftsmanship in the colourful and beautiful bead craft, which symbolises different aspects of Zulu life and transition. Each colour of bead has a different meaning and every type of beaded jewellery is made to symbolise a statement.
Zulu beads were historically used as a language between men and women, to express their feelings, relationship status, or to convey a message on the appropriate behaviour expected from the opposite sex.
Zulu only use one geometric shape in their beading and jewellery work – the triangle. Those who have studied the craft say that this is a representation of the father, mother and child unit. Here is what the triangles on the jewellery mean:
A triangle pointing down represents an unmarried woman.
A triangle pointing up represents an unmarried man.
Two triangles joined at the base represent a married woman
Two triangles joined at the points in an hourglass shape represent a married man.
Bead colours and meaning
Black beads symbolise Marriage.
Blue beads – Faithfulness and Hope.
Green beads – Contentment.
Pink beads – High status, Promise.
Red – High emotions, Love.
White – Purity, Spirituality, True Love.
I hope the pictures give you an idea of that particular day trip.