Zulu women's music

  • Rosemary Joseph


It is with certain qualifications that this paper is titled Zulu Womens Music. While the ensuing discussion does in fact concern music, performed by Zulu women in certain areas of KwaZulu, it is not wished to infer that the practices described are necessarily homogeneous throughout the whole of the Zulu-speaking areas of Natal and KwaZulu. The terms music, song and dance are used advisedly. There are no direct Zulu equivalents of the Western concepts of music, song and dance; nevertheless these terms are retained in order to facilitate discussion in as much as they refer to broadly similiar Zulu concepts.


Argyle, J.. and Preston-Whyte, ed., 1978, Social Systems and Tradition in Southern Africa, Cape Town.
Berglund, A.-I. 1976, Zulu Thought-patterns and Symbolism, London.
Binns, C.T. 1975, The Warrior People, London.
Blacking, J. 1973, How Musical is Man, Washington.
Braatvedt, H.P. 1927, 'Zulu marriage customs and ceremonies', South African Journal of Science, xxiv, 553-65.
Bryant, A.T. 1904, Zulu-English Dictionary, Pietermaritzburg. 1949, The Zulu People, Pietermaritzburg.
Cope, T., ed., 1968, Izibongo: Zulu Praise Poems, Oxford.
Doke, C.M. and Vilakazi, B.W., 1948, Zulu-English Dictionary, Johannesburg.
Finnegan, R. 1977, Oral Poetry, Cambridge.
Gennep, van A. 1909, Les rites de passage, Paris, tr. London, 1960.
Gunner, E. 1979, 'Songs of innocence and experience: women as composers and performers of izibongo', Research in African Literatures, x/2, 239.
Kirby, P.R. 1934, The Musical Instruments of the Native Races of South Africa, London.
Kohler, M. 1933, Marriage Customs in Southern Natal, Pretoria.
Krige, E.J. 1936, The Social System of the Zulus, Pietermaritzburg. 1968, 'Girls' puberty songs and their relation to fertility, health, morality and religion among the Zulu', Africa, xxxviii/2, 173-98.
Mayr F. 1908, 'A short study on Zulu music', Annals of the Natal Museum, i, 257-67.
Merriam, A.P. 1964, The Anthropology of Music, Chicago.
Msimang, C.T. 1975, Kusadliwa ngoludala, Pietermaritzburg.
Mzolo, D. 1978, 'Zulu clan praises' in Social Systems and Tradition in Southern Africa, ed., Argyle, J. and Preston-Whyte, E., Cape Town, 206-21.
Plant, R. 1905, The Zulu in Three Tenses, Pietermaritzburg.
Reader, D.H. 1966, Zulu Tribe in Transition, Manchester.
Rycroft, D.K. 1957, 'Zulu male traditional singing', African Music, i/4, 33-6.
1959, 'African music in Johannesburg - African and non-African features', Journal of the International Folk Music Council, xi, 25-30.
1960, 'Melodic features in Zulu eulogistic recitation', African Language Studies, i, 60-78.
1967, 'Nguni vocal polyphony', Journal of the International Folk Music Council, xix, 88-103.
1971, 'Stylistic evidence in Nguni song', in Essays on Music and History in Africa, ed., Wachsmann, K.P., Evanston, 213-41.
1975, 'A royal account of music in Zulu life', Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, xxxviii/2, 351-402.
1975/6, 'The Zulu bow-songs of Princess Magogo', African Music, v/4, 41-96.
1977, Evidence of stylistic continuity in Zulu "town" music', in Essays for a Humanist : an Offering to Klaus Wachsmann, New York, 216-260.
Samuelson, R.C. 1929, Long, long ago, Durban.
Weman, H. 1960, African Music and the Church in Africa, Uppsala.
Webb. C. de B. and Wright, J.B., ed., The James Stuart Archive, Pietermaritzburg, i, 1976, ii, 1979.
How to Cite
Joseph, R. “Zulu Women’s Music”. African Music: Journal of the International Library of African Music, Vol. 6, no. 3, July 1983, pp. 53-89, doi:https://doi.org/10.21504/amj.v6i3.1168.