Ndebele People Traditions Culture

They are also known as the Matabele or amaNdebele from South African and Zimbabwe

Although the origins of the South African Ndebele are shrouded in mystery, they have been identified as one of the Nguni tribes. The Ndebele people were originally an offshoot of the Nguni people of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The language amaNala and amaNzunza are related to that of the Ndebele people of Zimbabwe.

The Ndebele are a branch of the Zulu's who split from King Shaka in the early 1820s under the leadership of Mzilikazi, a former general in Shaka's army. In the 1820's Mzilikazi over-powered the Manala and decided to settle down with them. After some time, Mzilikazi became afraid that Shaka would send an army after him. Ndebele dollsWith a clever plan he lured the Ndebele men away, got the others together and killed them. He then took the women and livestock and then moved northwards in 1834 into present-day Zimbabwe where they battled with the Shona people; eventually carving out a home now called Matabeleland and encompassing the west and southwest region of the country and finally settled in Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. That is the origin of the Ndebele of Zimbabwe.

Many Ndebele became formidable warriors, often subjugating smaller chiefdom's and assimilating them into Ndebele society, and Ndebele clashed repeatedly with Voortrekker militias around Pretoria in South Africa. The late nineteenth-century Afrikaner leader Paul Kruger jailed or executed many of their leaders, seized their land, and dispersed others to work for Afrikaner farmers as indentured servants. Some of the land was later returned to a few Ndebele, often as a reward for loyalty or recognition of status.

Under apartheid, many Ndebele living in the northern Transvaal were assigned to the predominantly seSotho-speaking homeland of Lebowa, which consisted of several segments of land scattered across the northern Transvaal. Others, mostly southern Ndebele, who had retained more traditional elements of their culture and language, were assigned to KwaNdebele.Traditional Ndebele woman ceremony KwaNdebele had been carved out of land that had been given to the son of Nyabela, a well-known Ndebele fighter in Kruger's time. Traditional Ndebele lifestyleNdebele traditionalists, who pressed for KwaNdebele independence through the 1980s, therefore, prized the homeland.

Ndebele woman in traditional dressIn recent years, the population of the Ndebele in Zimbabwe has been diminishing due to the genocide that was carried out by the Zimbabwean government on the Ndebele and secondly migrating to other countries, especially South Africa in search of jobs and as after-effects of the genocide and the economic crisis that has gripped Zimbabwe since 2000


The Ndebele people are well known for their artistic talent - especially with regard to their painted houses and colorful beadwork .For over a hundred years, the Ndebele have decorated the outside of their homes with designs. Ndebele woamen outside painted houdeMulti color wall paintings are painted by using their fingers, the most frequent theme, as in wall painting, is the house. Gables, gateways, steps, roofline's and light fixtures may all be recognized on women's aprons and on walls. These reflect the domestic interests of women, and may point to aspirations of idealized homes. The dresses and beautiful decorated homes of the Ndebele people in South Africa are unique in Africa. Many a fashion model would envy the elegance, color and presentation of well-dressed Ndebele women.Ndebele man One form of early design was made with earth pigments, ranging from bright yellow to brown. The pigments were ground up and mixed with liquid to form a "paint" that was used to decorate door and window frames, bordered with charcoal. The earlier patterns are believed, unlike the more recent painted patterns, to have sacred powers and to have been made in response to demands by the ancestors

Exclusively the Ndebele women, who are renowned for their artistic skills, have always done beadwork. Their beadwork and bead pattern-inspired mural paintings in particular have become an integral part of Ndebele culture. The motifs used in beadwork and in wall painting show great vitality and dynamic response to the changing world around the artists. Stylized plant forms may express a hope for good harvests in a dry region.

Colorful dresses, metal rings and beaded hoops are used. The beadwork is sometimes so elaborate that garments and trinkets can only be removed by destroying it. The rings around the ankles as well as necklaces remain there for most of the wearer's life.

This entry was posted in Maridadi On .