Zulu girl talks about her misunderstood culture and family traditions

Zimi Ngesi and her mom Thobeleni.

HERITAGE is often mantained by the stories and information passed down from one generation to another.

But, like the game ‘broken telephone’, information passed down orally is likely can be misinterpreted and distorted.

Even so, some people will always celebrate and hold on to their heritage, whether or not the information passed down has been misinterpreted.

It’s Heritage Month and Zimi Ngesi (20), journalist of Ugu Eyethu, who was born and raised in Harding, said she has sufficient information about her heritage through the stories she’s been told by her parents.

However, she doesn’t really celebrate Heritage Day.

“Heritage, to me, means one’s roots, as in where one was born and bred. So, Heritage Day is for honouring that. Though my family and I don’t ‘celebrate’ Heritage Day, I would’ve loved to be with my family doing things such as cooking traditional meals, singing traditional songs and watching the reed dance on television,” she said.

She has some family traditions that she still adheres to, such as greeting elderly people, even if she doesn’t know them.

Zimi left home recently to stay in Port Shepstone in order to be closer to work.

When asked about her home she said: “Believe it or not, the memory of home that is still stuck on my mind to this day is when my father disciplined my twin sister and I two years back, in a way we will both never forget, because we misbehaved. That makes me miss home, but and also makes me think twice about going home,” she laughed.

“Speaking of home, I miss sharing my favourite traditional dish with my family, which is ujeqe (steamed bread) with spinach or boiled chicken, with amahewu thereafter. It’s a pity I don’t have the recipe for ujeqe, man, now I’m really missing home,” she added.

Zimi spoke about things she feels people from other cultures misunderstand about her culture.

One example is the annual reed dance.

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“Other cultures perceive the reed dance as nudity or pornography but it’s not that. It’s a way for us young women to celebrate and show off our virginity, and to let the world know that we’re proud of being young Zulu women,” she said.

Different parents pass down different morals and belief systems to their children in the form of advice, which can be seen as family traditions.

Zimi says the best advice she’s received from her parents, that she will pass down to her children one day is, “Hlonipha uyihlo nonyoko ukuze izinsuku zakho zande ezweni.”

(Honour your mother and father so that your days on earth will be increased).

This Heritage Month Zimi urges people from different cultures to embrace their heritage and show respect to other people’s cultures.


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