Young Women in Contemporary Zulu Society

by Sandra Klopper
University of Cape Town

Dr. Sibongile Zungu, shown here receiving gifts from people living in the Amatikulu district, wears beaded garments to express Zulu identity, South Africa. Photo by Sandra Klopper.

Increasingly, however, dress is not necessarily an infallible indication of group allegiance or religious affiliation. Since the emergence of the Inkatha movement in 1975, an ever-growing number of Zulu-speakers have been encouraged to express pride in their ethnic roots by wearing so-called traditional dress. Many of these people are educated urban dwellers with little if any knowledge of rural practices and forms of dress. As a result, they often purchase beadwork and other items at random, either combining disparate styles or wearing forms of dress that are equated with specific groups, like the Ibandla lamaNazaretha, even though they themselves may not have any connection with these groups. Dr. Sibongile Zungu, shown here receiving gifts from people living in the Amatikulu district where she took over as the superintendent of the Catherine Booth Hospital, is an interesting case in point.