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isiZULU

Zulu is the most widely spoken language in South Africa with 11.6 million speakers and is also spoken in Swaziland, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi and Mozambique. It is closely related to Xhosa, Swati and Ndebele and speakers of all four languages can easily understand each other.

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WHERE IS IT SPOKEN?

SOUTH AFRICA

Swaziland, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi and Mozambique.

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NUMBER OF SPEAKERS

11.7 MILLION SPEAKERS AS A FIRST LANGUAGE

15.7 million speakers as a second language

LANGUAGE FAMILY

NIGER-CONGO

THREE FACTS ABOUT ZULU CULTURE, LANGUAGE, PEOPLE

 

1. A powerful Kingdom

The oral history of the Zulus lists eight kings, including the current king, known as Zwelithini Goodwill. The Zulu people became a powerful state in 1818, led by a military leader known as Shaka, who was noted for his significant military prowess and ability to both integrate and mobilize the smaller tribes of the Zulu people. As King of the Zulus, Shaka became immensely significant in building the Zulu tribe into an impressive and imposing empire.

2. Religious sentiments

Religion is a major part of Zulu life. Most Zulu people regard themselves as Christians, predominantly belonging to the African Initiated Churches alongside European branches such as the Dutch Reformed, Anglican and Catholic churches. However, other Zulu people retain traditional beliefs which pre-date their conversion to Christianity, and instead favor the worship of ancestors.

3. Zulu history is unclear

The particulars of Zulu history are often unclear, as so much of their history is dedicated to oral historians rather than written down. However this is a strong and world-famous people, who have retained a distinctive character despite many years of change surrounding them.

Leading language 

learning in Africa 

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