Did you know?
Tasteless traditional Zulu beer is called isalababa, meaning ‘goodbye father', implying that guests must leave their host because his beer cannot be enjoyed.
It is believed that Nomkhubulwana, the Princess of Rain, revealed the secret of traditional beer brewing to the Zulu people, and that white cattle are associated with ancestral spirits, representing purity and fertility. The great empire builder King Shaka banned early marriage to ensure his warriors kept their focus on matters of war, and love letters during courtship took the form of colour symbolism in beadwork.
These are some of the interesting facts the visitor learns at the KwaZulu Cultural Museum in Ondini near Ulundi, which falls into the eMakhosini Valley, the valley of Zulu Kings.
This KwaZulu-Natal cultural museum traces a number of historical themes. In one section it details the early inhabitants of the province, leading up to Shaka and a successor Cetshwayo, followed by the arrival of white settlers and their implications for trade. It also looks at belief systems of the Zulu, and the importance they placed on cattle as a source of wealth. Bringing the story into the present, a display on apartheid laws and their effects is included.
A second section reviews the strict divisions between males and female roles in this patriarchal and polygamous society and how this was reflected in dress, customs and division of labour. A reconstruction of a traditional homestead makes a fascinating display. Other cultural aspects such as the brewing of beer, the manufacture of musical instruments and the significance of beadwork is also covered.
The KwaZulu Cultural Museum is one museum that doesn't freeze the culture it portrays in a timeframe of the past. It examines the Zulu nation of today, and shows the dynamic nature of the Zulu culture as it moves with the times.
Most displays have interactive components, such as toys children can play with, traditional musical instruments to play and the opportunity to try your hand at beadwork.