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South Africa: Information on Zulu customs regarding vendettas and feuds

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 November 1994
Citation / Document Symbol ZAF18819.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, South Africa: Information on Zulu customs regarding vendettas and feuds, 1 November 1994, ZAF18819.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6abc06c.html [accessed 2 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

 

Zulus are one of the major ethnic groups in Natal province of South Africa (The New Encyclopaedia Britannica 1989, 940). The Zulu empire under the leadership of Shaka Zulu was notable for its strength and resistance to colonial influence.

The Zulu may be called patriarchal. Polygyn is practiced, a man's wives are ranked by strict seniority under the "great wife," the mother of his heir. The levirate (compulsory marriage of a widow to her dead husband's brother) and ghost marriage (the vicarious marriage of a female to the name of a deceased relative are also practiced ... Traditional Zulu religion was based on ancestor worship, and on beliefs in a creator god, witches, and sorcerers. The king was responsible for all national magic and rainmaking; rites performed by the king on behalf of the entire nation (at planting season, in war, drought, or famine) centred on the ancesotrs of the royal line (ibid., 941).

In modern times, the power of the king has declined substantially and Zulus live in KwaZulu, one of the ten "homesteads" established by the South African government in 1948 (Africa Watch Sept. 1993). Chief Mongosuthu Gatha Buthelezi and his Inkata Freedom Party (IFP) claim to represent Zulu interests in South Africa but there have been conflicts between chief Buthelezi and his nephew, King Goodwill Zwelethini, reportedly because the king supports the African National Congress (ANC) (23 Sept. 1994). Chief Buthelezi would like to see traditional authorities administer traditional communities in South Africa. He called a meeting of chiefs to urge them to boycott next year's elections if King Goodwill Zwelithini's position is not guaranteed (SAPA, 18 Oct. 1994).

Traditionally, Zulus are warriors and there has been a lot of violence in KwaZulu.

Much of Natal province, both inside and outside the borders of KwaZulu homeland, is gripped by what is in effect a low-intesity civil war between Inkatha and the ANC. Both sides of this war have committed atrocities in support of their cause (News from Africa Watch Sept. 1993, 37).

For additional information on the Zulus, please refer to the attached documents.

Information on customs regarding vendettas and feuds could not be found among the sources currently available to the DIRB.

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References

SAPA [Johannesburg, in English]. 14 October 1994. "Buthelezi Addresses Chiefs; Zulu King Opposes Meeting." (FBIS-AFR-94-201 18 October 1994, p. 5)

The New Encylopaedia Britannica. 1989. 15th ed. Vol. 2. Edited by Philip Goetz. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica.

News from Africa Watch [New York]. September 1993. Vol. 5, No. 12. "South Africa: "Traditional" Dictatorship."

The Times [London]. 23 September 1994. "Buthelezi Rift with King Raises Fear of War in Natal." (NEXIS)

Attachments

SAPA [Johannesburg, in English]. 14 October 1994. "Buthelezi Addresses Chiefs; Zulu King Opposes Meeting." (FBIS-AFR-94-201 18 October 1994, p. 5)

The New Encylopaedia Britannica. 1989. 15th ed. Vol. 2. Edited by Philip Goetz. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica.

News from Africa Watch [New York]. September 1993. Vol. 5, No. 12. "South Africa: "Traditional" Dictatorship."

The Times [London]. 23 September 1994. "Buthelezi Rift with King Raises Fear of War in Natal." (NEXIS)

Sources Cunsulted

Human Rights in Africa. 1990. Washington: Brookings Institute.

Africa Confidential [London]. Weekly.

Africa Events [London]. Monthly.

Africa Report [New York]. Bi-monthly.

Africa Research Bulletin: Political Series [London]. Monthly.

Africa South of the Sahara. Yearly. London: Europa Publications Ltd.

Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Reports. Daily.

New African [London]. Monthly.

News from Africa Watch [New York]. Monthly.

South Africa Reports. Monthly.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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