Zulu women dancing. Image credit zululandobserver.co.za

ZIMSEC O Level History Notes: The Zulu State: Social Organisation of the Zulu State

  • There was division of labour in the Zulu state, that is men did cattle rearing whist women did agriculture
  • Boys were taught to be aggressive whilst girls were taught to be submissive
  • The Zulu celebrated the Inxwala ceremony which was a festival of the first fruits
  • Conquered kingdoms were supposed to speak the Zulu language and follow the Zulu culture
  • The kingdom had three distinct social classes which were:
  • The king and the royal family
  • Those incorporated when the Zulu was expanding
  • Those absorbed during Mfecane
  • The lower two classes where required to pay tribute to Shaka as a sign of allegiance
  • All able bodied men were to marry at 40 after serving in the army
  • Cattle was seen as a sign of wealth and status
  • Men with many cattle married many wives
  • Cattle were also used to pay traditional doctors’ fees
    The king was the centre of unit
  • The Zulu men and women were educated in age regiments
  • Age regiments fostered unity because people of different background were brought together
  • Marriage alliances encouraged unity and co-existence in the state with the marriage function presided over by the king
  • The Zulu had many festivals, for example, dissolving of the age-regiments, the first fruit harvest (inxwala) to thank their gods for good yields and Shaka presided over all the ceremonies
  • The Zulu assimilated conquered people to look similar to original Zulus
  • They were religious and religion was used to enforce unity where all people believed in the spirits of the ancestors and living dead
  • The king presided over all religious ceremonies

To access more topics go to the History Notes page.