Roza in South Africa

Roza is a junior Hunt Scholar and Mustang Scholar majoring in communication studies in Meadows School of the Arts and political science in Dedman College. During summer 2011, she is participating in SMU-in-South Africa, a four-week study program that introduces students to South African history and culture. She plans to take two courses: “The African Diaspora: Literature and Culture of Black Liberation” as well as “Music Theater Workshop, West Side Story.”

Roza then travels to Washington, D.C., as the 2011 Jack C. and Annette K. Vaughn Foreign Service and International Affairs intern, through SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies. She is working at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars with the center’s Global Health Initiative.

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Introduction to Zulu culture

Today was such an adventures day. Class was cut half a day short, and after that all of us got to go on an excursion. Our destination was to A Valley of a Thousand Hills, where we got to experience the Zulu culture.

Think of the perception that most likely comes to most people’s mind when they think of Africa: rural place, men who have multiple wives, people barely wearing any clothing and staying in small villages, a lot of singing and dancing despite poor living conditions? That is exactly what we saw. In many rural parts of South Africa, these perceptions are a reality.

First we walked into small huts, and our guides explained that this is where a typical Zulu family lives. The man is responsible for building this hut, while the woman is expected to fix the ground and any inside decorations.

Then, he went on to explain that the man is considered the dominant figure in the household, and because of that he is allowed to have as many wives as possible … even up to 10 or 21! … as long as the man can pay for a wife, which is done by giving the father of the bride a minimum of 11 cows. As long as the man can pay for the lady, he can marry her.

Roza-SouthAfrica.jpg So in the Zulu culture, I learned that the more cows a man has, the more women he can marry. Also, while the man can have as many wives as he wishes, the woman can only have one husband. Of course, by that point I just kept thinking how grateful I am to be living in the U.S., where not only is polygamy against the law, but where women’s rights are held to a higher standard.

IMG_0524.jpgAfter getting a depressing yet quite intriguing lesson about the Zulu culture, things got much more exciting when we were taken out of the villages and introduced to Zulu dancing and singing. The entire audience was just blown away by the performance. When the show ended, we kept asking for more and more, till finally they said it was way past our time and we had to leave. The African drums, tribal singing and dancing definitely got all of us singing and dancing, and we even stood around afterward to ask the performers to take pictures with us.

After the performance, we saw some of the oldest, largest and most exotic crocodiles and snakes. I enjoyed all of this by keeping my distance, while a few students braved the journey and wrapped snakes around their head or got near the crocodiles.

By far the best day ever!

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    3 Responses to Introduction to Zulu culture

    1. Ben Voth says:

      I love your posts. Great commentary. I love the candor and insights.

    2. Roza Essaw says:

      Thank you for keeping up with my blogs, Dr. Voth.

    3. Jasmine Carr says:

      Isn’t it interesting that they were still singing & dancing despite their conditions. It reminds me of a dinner that we attended – the speaker remarked how in some of the poorest villages in Africa, the poll results showed that they had higher levels of optimism than most cities in the USA.

      Also, I like the fact that you said “a few students” braved going near the snakes & crocs. Good YOU stayed put – his head looks bigger than you. It would take him no time to eat you. But, if God can pull Jonah safely out of a whale, I am sure that He could have handled the crocodile for you, too. Ha!

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