Thursday, January 15, 2009


You have no doubt read my referrals to Busi and probably wonder who she is and how come she is such a special part of our family.

Busi is my domestic worker. She started working for me as a young girl of 21 years - already the mother of 2 little girls and pregnant with her 3rd daughter. She was with a young man called Thokozani and had been since she was 15. He is the father of her 3 daughters. As is Zulu custom, Thokozani had to pay “lobola” (dowry / payment in cattle or cash to the bride’s family). Because they had 3 daughters, he had to pay her father for the little girls too!

Busi and her 3 daughters

After all these years, Thokozani has fulfilled his obligation and their wedding took place over Christmas in KwaZulu Natal.

It is custom for the bride to change more than three times on her wedding day. It is not customary for Zulu brides to wear white, but nowadays they prefer to do so for the church ceremony.

Busi and Thokozani
After church, the wedding moves to the bridegroom’s home. The bride and groom change into traditional outfits and parties from both sides compete through dance and song.
Thokozani, Busi and Busi's father, Patrick - in their first traditional outfit.
Thokozani and Busi in the their third and last outfit.
During the traditional ceremony the family of the groom slaughter a cow to show that they accept the bride into their home. The bride puts money into the stomach of the cow as a sign that she is part of the new family.
The women prepare a lot of meat in Zulu pots, with putu ( which is a stiff porridge, made with meal) and lots of vegetables and everyone eats to their hearts content. Traditionally they cook the food in pots on an open fire. They also have lots of Zulu beer (there's a whole story about the beer, but in short, it is brewed by the women.  Sorghum and maize are the ingredients.  It has an alcohol content of 3%).

Something I found strange, but interesting! There are no photographs of Busi’s mother. When I asked why she said “She’s not allowed!” I later learned that the mother of the bride does not go to the wedding!? That would NOT make me happy!

The wedding ceremony ends when the bride gives gifts of blankets to her new family - this is called ukwaba / umabo.

Busi giving gifts to her new family
Busi's 3 little girls, Nqobile, Zanele and Thando, getting ready for the traditional dance


Firefly said...

This is a very interesting post on a Zulu wedding. I have to admit that I did not know the whole Zulu wedding tradition. Now I do. Strange that the mother of the bride is not allowed. But I have to say no matter which of the African cultures you look at, they know how to throw a party.

Hayley said...

Great pictures! Also did not know the whole tradition...thanks!

Avril said...

Very interesting ! I too did not know the whole wedding tradition - thanks for sharing it.
As for 'No Mum's allowed' - and only his Mum gets to participate in all the celebrations - would not be able to contain myself - a wedding ceremony is such a very special occasion for the whole family especially for a Mum and a daughter!
Love the trains photo - and well done to P for taking the photo - did they see Santa?

Jeanette said...

Very interesting post Janet!

pam said...

What a great peek into a world I know nothing about. The customs and traditional dress show that these ceremonies are so important to them. Thanks for sharing, and congratulations to the entire family.

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