South Africa’s Heritage Day

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Today South Africa celebrates Heritage Day to commemorate the heritage of the many cultures that make up the population of South Africa. In the region where I live we especially celebrate the culture of Zulu people, who have inhabited this region for hundreds of years.

The Zulu were originally a major clan of Nguni decent, in what is today Northern KwaZulu-Natal, founded around 1700. In the Nguni languages Zulu means heaven. Nguni communities had migrated down Africa’s east coast over centuries, probably arriving in Southern Africa in about the 9th century.

The Zulu formed a powerful state and empire after King Shaka Zulu became their leader in 1816. They conquered large parts of Southern Africa using their superior military skills and tactics to subdue many other nations. They were defeated by the British in July 1879 but retain their identity with a King as their leader until this day. The Zulu Kingdom still exists under the traditional leadership clause of the South African constitution.

Thanda Private Game Reserve, my employer in South Africa, has 180 employees, of which more than 90% come from the local rural Zulu communities surrounding the Reserve.

This portrait shows one of the young ladies working on Thanda. Her name is Khethiwe Sphesihle Jiyane from the Magolwane clan. The gallery below shows a few more images of people in Zululand, which I took over the last three years.