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Zulu Religion

Religion in the broadest sense may be defined as man's attitude towards the unseen, and the earliest forms of human thought furnish the clue from which must be traced the development of those great systems of religion that have at different time periods been professed by certain groups of people. The term religion must also include, not only beliefs in unseen spiritual agencies, but numerous customs, superstitions, and myths which have usually been regarded by the people of the specific society or community. As far as, Zulu religion goes, there are many different opinions about the origin and historical content. Since many of the beliefs and traditions were passed orally, there are no written records of the founders or early history of Zulu religion. However, because of the Zulu's distinctive beliefs and unique customs, one can not deny the existence of the religious system of the Zulu people.
There have been numerous studies which present compelling evidence for the existence of a coherent Zulu religious system which involves the worship of a heavenly being, the Lord-of-the-Sky. There is, however, some uncertainty about the early Zulu's belief in the Lord-of-the-Sky. "Reading studies by Callaway, one is given the impression that Zulu of his time made no clear distinction between sky divinity and the shades. However, modern Zulu are emphatic in expressing a very clear distinction between the

Lord-of-the-Sky and the shades"(Berglund 32). In this case the word "shades" is referring to ancestors. The reason "shade" is used in place of ancestor is because the word "ancestor" in the English language means "ascendants who are dead." The Zulu people believe this word refers to a separation between the living and the dead. The Zulu people have close and intimate relationship with their departed relatives. "This is not descriptive of Zulu concepts which, as the study will be showing, assume a very close and intimate relation...

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Bibliography Berglund, Axel-Iver. Zulu Thought-Patterns and Symbolism. (Cape Town: David Phillip, 1976), 32-383. Krige, Eileen. The Social System of the Zulus. (Pietermaritzburg: Shuter & Shooter, 1936), 280-282. Shapera, I. The Bantu Speaking Tribes of South Africa. (Cape Town: Masken Miller, 1937), 262-263. Isaacs, Nathaniel. Travels and Adventures in Eastern Africa, Vol. 1. (London: Edward Churton, 1836), 119-302. Gardiner, Alan. Narrative of a Journey to the Zoolu Country. (London: William Crofits, 1836), 178-180. Cory, Sir George. Owen's Diary. (Cape Town: Van Riebeech Society, 1926), 39. Shooter, Joseph. The Kafirs of Natal and the Zulu Country. (London: E. Stanford, 1857), 160-162. Farrer, J.A. Zululand and the Zulus. (London: Kirby, 1879), 128-129. Hexham, Irving. Traditional Zulu Ideas about God. The Edwin Mullen Press, African Studies Volume 6, 300-401.

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