Community Life

Everything you need to know
about our Communities

Community Life

It’s worth traveling around the world to hear the incredible sounds of Zulu music and the stomp of Zulu feet. In the Valley there are different types of music including traditional music, gospel music and local dance music. Dance is very important in Zulu culture. Traditional dance is performed by both boys and girls at rituals and ceremonies such as weddings, 21st birthdays, memorials and religious ceremonies. It is still very much alive and happening today. Boys and girls get very dressed up to do the Zulu dance. Boys clothing is made of loin clothe and skin to cover his rear, brightened by beaded hoops and necklaces. The outfit for the girls is made of beads. There are different dances. A popular one involved everyone in a circle, then one by one people go into the centre of the circle and do the Zulu kick. There are also many amazing gospel choirs in the community, which perform at weddings, funerals, events, concerts and churches. The local dance is called Kwaito, which is unique to South Africa. It is very popular for the youth and can be done anywhere such as parties, festivals and streets. Hip hop is also very popular. In Vuk’ Africa tours visitors get to experience some of these styles of dance and music in a unique performance that brings them together. ‘The Show’ is a journey that takes you deeper into the musical heart of Africa. It’s interactive and fun and guaranteed to get the audience up and dancing like an African!

∇ Beadwork:

Beauty Of The Valley

The Valley of a Thousand Hills, with its soothing beauty has wooed artists and crafts people for centuries. It’s where rural Africa links arms gently with urban living in Durban. But the Valley of a Thousand Hills has become “The Valley of 1000 Tears” because (1) it is plagued by severe unemployment, which is the primary cause of crime in the area and (2) it carries an extremely high level of HIV / AIDS. Sensing he devastating effect that unemployment and HIV/AIDS are having Vuk’ Africa realised an effective way to combat each, while enabling community members to proudly identify with their heritage.

The ‘Ubuhle Be’ Valley Beadwork Project is an effective economic empowerment program for communities. This enterprising project is popular among locals and tourists alike. Named appropriately to reveal the beautiful (or “Ubuhle” in Zulu) of the Valley of a Thousand Hills, this project has already made a difference for many local, skilled artists and crafters, enabling them to begin once again earning a living.

This employment program creates income stream that empowers local community members in KwaNyuswa and other communities who create and sell their crafts to visiting consumers while connecting with hundreds of people outside their immediate community. It also plays a fundamental role in facilitating participatory, locally driven, development initiatives that recognise and implement indigenously acquired skills.

This traditional Zulu beaded jewelry is hand-made by eight unemployed women from KwaNyuswa. The sale of this jewelry is an income generator for these women and their families.
In Zulu culture, beaded bracelets and earrings are given to women by their male admirers and the more beads a women possesses the more desirable she is seen to be!
The colours of beads used in Zulu beadwork play a significant role in communication. This is particularly evident in the beaded love letter.

  • White –purity
  • Red – love
  • Blue- loneliness
  • Yellow – jealousy
  • Pink – poverty
  • Black – Anger
  • Green- obsession



During your Vuk Africa Tour you will visit inside a Zulu family home. The Valley of 1000 Hills is a place that truly merges traditional and modern lifestyles and this is reflected in the homes of the people that live there.

You can expect to see a few modern houses with cars, garages and inside toilets. You can also expect to see many more small houses overflowing with people from the extended family and a traditional rondaval (round house) outside which is used for ceremonies. In these and other houses toilets are outside.

You can also expect to see a few homes that were built by the homeowner using the same methods that have been used for generations.

The building of a Zulu home in Zulu culture is the man’s responsibility. He builds the structure of the house including the walls and roof. In order for this house to stand men and women would work together to build the house.

The women weave the ropes and mats used for building, and also weave the top notch of the house. The mats are wound around the sapling framework, from bottom to the top. For the floor the women plaster with mixture of cow dung and ant-heap soil, which is smeared on the ground. Only one door is as a point of entrance and exit. Normally these entrances were made to be lower, to such a point that when anyone enters will bow his body.

The houses will last for about ten to fifteen years before any rebuilding needs to be done. During this time the family keeps on building other houses just next to the one that already exist before it falls down or they themselves bring it down.



A sangoma is a practitioner of herbal medicine, divination and counseling

The philosophy is based on a belief in ancestral spirits. Both men and women can be called by the ancestors (a consequence of refusing the calling is usually ongoing physical or mental illness), though sangomas are usually female. A trainee sangoma (or thwasa) trains under another sangoma, usually for a period of years or more, usually performing humbling service in the community.

At times in the training, and for the graduation, a ritual sacrifice of an animal is performed (usually a chicken, a goat or a cow). The spilling of this blood is meant to seal the bond between the ancestors and the sangoma.

People visit the “isangoma” (diviner) to contact their ancestral spirits –the amadlozi,to be healed from sickness or for help with any psychological call problems. The isangoma’s dress is very simple – the hair is plaited with black & white beads and inflated gall bladders. They wear grass or cloth skirts in red, black and white. Strings of goatskins cross their chest while on their wrist; they wear the “Isiphandla”- bracelets made from the hides of sacrificed goat and cow.

In one hand, the isangoma will carry the “Inkonkoni” made from the tail of a wildebeest, this divining switch is used to indicate the offender, to “find” the stolen article or, to sweep the way clear for the amadlozi (ancestors). It is an insult to refer to an isangoma as a witch doctor. Their practice has its base on psychology rather than magic & witchcraft.



Most people in the Valley state their beliefs to be Christian. Some of the most common churches to which they belong are African Initiated Churches, especially the Zion Christian Church and various Apostolic Churches, and which all have different uniforms blue, white, green etc.

Many people retain their traditional pre-Christian belief system of ancestor worship in parallel with their Christianity. This religion includes belief in a creator God (UNkulunkulu) who is above interacting in day-to-day human affairs.

Traditionally, the more strong hold Zulu belief is in ancestor spirits (Amatongo or Amadlozi), who have the power to intervene in people’s lives, for good or ill. In order to appeal to the spirit world, a diviner (sangoma) must invoke the ancestors through divination processes to determine the problem. Then, a herbalist (inyanga) prepares a mixture to be consumed (muthi) in order to influence the ancestors.

Isaiah Shembe, considered the Zulu Messiah, presented a form of Christianity (the Nazareth Baptist Church) which incorporates traditional customs. Shembe attends church on Saturdays, if you tour into the Valley on a Saturday you’ll pass women wearing their white Nazareth and men in their traditional suite carrying Zulu mats.


Learn a few words of Zulu before you arrive to impress the locals!

  • Sawubona – Hi
  • Kunjani – How are you?
  • Ninjani – How are you? (speaking to more than one person)
  • Ngiyaphila – I am fine
  • Siyaphila – we are fine
  • Ubani igama lakho – what is your name?
  • Igama lami ngu Sarah – my name is Sarah
  • Uhamba nini – When are you going?
  • Uneminyaka emingaki? – how old are you?
  • Ngiyabonga – thank you
  • Siyabonga – we thank you



The Zulu cooking range encompasses some forty dishes, mostly vegetarian (although the Zulus love meat). Maize, tubers and pumpkin are mostly eaten in different forms. Tomatoes, cabbage and onions are popular when available.

Eating is hygienic, each member using his own plate and utensils. Hands are washed before eating and mouths are washed after.

Some traditional foods you may try in your tour are:

  • Grilled meat – inyama eyosiwe
  • Maize meal – Uphuthu
  • Kidney beans – Ubhomubhomu
  • Samp – Isitambu (crashed corn with beans)
  • Sugar beans – ubhontshisi
  • Beef stew – Inyama yenkomo
  • Zulu Beer – Uthswala
  • Wild Pumpkin – Ithanga
  • Wild Spinach – Imifino
  • Zulu bread – Ujege
  • Cornmeal with beans -Isigwaqane
  • Beef or chicken curry


Traditional Attire

The chief wears a leopard skin and bright colored feathers of the bishop bird adorn his headdress. The shield and spear is for protection and is part of the traditional gear worn by the chief.

The heard boy’s traditional everyday work clothing consists of a loincloth and skin to cover his rear, brightened by bearded hoops and necklaces.

Dancing costume of a young Zulu maiden. The entire outfit is made of beads. This costume is worn during festivals or dancing ceremonies.