Culture is fluid - it changes over time - and the
Zulu people of 100 years ago do not live as Zulu people do today.
However, many of the customs, traditions, myths, legends and beliefs
surrounding cattle remain the same.
Cattle remain central in traditional Zulu life.
They make up the lobola, a gift of cattle from a groom's family to
that of his bride. Lobola is more than a bride price, it is the way
of cementing the kinship relationships that are so important in Zulu life.
The cattle form part of the negotiation and ceremony that result in the
In a traditional Zulu homestead the cattle byre is
the centre. All doors often face the byre where the cattle spend
every evening. This close association as resulted in a rich legacy
of cattle metaphor and simile in Zulu language.
It is said that "Inkunzi ayahlaba ngokumisa"
or, loosely translated, one should not judge a bull by his horns.
Cattle are also seen as the intermediary between
people and the spirit world. A beast is slaughtered at weddings,
funerals and other significant events and this is said to bring the
ancestral shades closer to the living.