Young Women in Contemporary Zulu Society

by Sandra Klopper
University of Cape Town

Beaded garments worn by the young Zulu women during the Reed Ceremony, South Africa. Photo by Sandra Klopper. 

Increasingly, moreover, the beadwork worn on occasions like the Reed Ceremony is made from large plastic beads, which are sewn into lace-like patterns that are far less time-consuming to produce than the densely beaded umbijo. This shift can be ascribed in part to changing life-styles—more and more girls are beginning to enter secondary school education—but also to the prohibitive costs involved in importing glass beads since the mid-1980s, when the value of South Africa's currency dropped rapidly against the major currencies of the West.