Interesting facts about the Ndebele culture – Komkhulu

25 April 2023
What you may not have known about the Ndebele culture
Ndebele man, Komkhulu cast, Ndebele royalty

The audience is getting insight into one of Mzansi's most beautiful cultures from the isiNdebele drama, Komkhulu.

What we are learning about it leaves us inspired.

Artistic bloodlines

Beadwork, wall paintings, architecture, and distinctive ways of dressing are visual displays of Ndebele identity. Beadwork and wall paintings in Ndebele communities have evolved over time and have a long history that can be traced back to the 1940s, according to the South African Tourism website.

The original fashionistas

The Ndebele people showcase their culture by wearing traditional colourful dress and ornamentation. Their clothing is bright and decorated with beautiful patterns. These patterns can also be seen on blankets. Today, many would call refer to these styles as the original colour blockers.

iNdlovukazi ‘the beloved’

Woman have a special place in the Ndebele nation. “The iNdlovukazi, or the Great Mother –holds a special position of power and prestige within the traditional family hierarchy,” reads the National African Language Resource Centre website, part of Indiana University.   

The Idzilla has significant meaning

Did you know the brass rings worn around the neck, legs and feet were only for Ndebele wives? “The brass rings, symbolising her bond and faithfulness to her husband, once her home was built. She would only remove the rings after his death,” reads the Siyabona Africa website, a travel operator.

Ndebele dances

Dancing is a big part of the Ndebele culture, serving as a form of storytelling with different dances for every occasion. Ndebele dances include isitshikitsha, imbube, mbaqanga, amantshomani and amabhiz. “Other dances, such as the ingwenyama and the ever popular gumboot dance – evolving out of South African mining labour camps during apartheid – are also well-known,” reads the National African Language Resource Centre website.

*A previous version of this article erroneously stated incorrect information related to the Ndebele tribe origins. The article has since been updated.

Sources: South African Tourism, National African Language Resource Centre, Siyabona Africa website

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