Zulu Culture
Building the Zulu Kraal
Zulu Kraal - Building
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Building

The traditional beehive huts are known as iQukwane. Men collect the outer sticks and place them in a circle on the ground. The women bind and thatch the structure using braided split reeds and grass. A central tree trunk acts as a support and the door is made low so that any foe has to stoop before entering.

Dung and termite mound is mixed to a thick consistency and spread to form the floor which sets rock hard and may be polished to a mirror-like finish using a polishing stone. The same material is used to form a raised hearth near the central pole.

The hut is very stable, warm in winter and cool in summer. Smoke from the fire escapes out the door or through the thatch that has the effect of constantly fumigating the hut.

Flags

White flags over a kraal mean that an engagement is imminent whilst red/white flags over a bridegroom's kraal indicate that he has to go through tears and longing (red) to reach the love of his sweetheart (white).

Cattle

The Zulu man loves his cattle more than anything else - perhaps even his wives. He will spend hours just watching the herd - knowing every individual in it. Cattle mean status, wealth, power and the ability to buy wives. Frequently, Zulu chiefs would be buried in their cattle kraals.

Kraal pits

Natal South Africa 2010In order to store grain for the seasons in which it would not grow or to provide food in the case of some natural calamity, pits were dug in or near the cattle kraal. The pits were vase shaped, lined with clay and sealed with a large flat stone. The stored maize kept fresh for months in this way.



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