Monday, 2 July 2012


"Mbeleko is a ceremony that is conducted after a baby is born. This is an act of detaching the umbilical connection from the mother and introducing the child to the ancestors, imbeleko means the act of giving birth or to carry on your back.

A goat is slaughtered as a sign of sacrifice to the ancestors. The elders of the family normally speak and ask the ancestors to accept, guide and protect the child. This is a common practice in cultures like the Zulu, Xhosa, Kikuyu, Shona, Ashanti and many more.

For imbeleko a goat must be slaughtered as a sacrifice to the ancestors (a goat is always slaughtered for a feast that involves talking to the ancestors), and the family elder responsible for talking to the ancestors will call the baby by its name when presenting it to the ancestors at the same time the goat is being slaughtered. Zulus usually carry more than one name, it can be several names given by members of the extended family. Names usually denote the family's expectations and encouragement for a baby; some reflect the family's experiences or how they relate to others in their community, sometimes they tell about the time/how the weather was like when the person was born, and so on. Also common are names that reflect religious beliefs and political beliefs. When doing the ritual the elders will speak to the ancestors and ask them to guide and protect the child."
When my daughter was born, I decided to give her the name Ntokozo which meant happiness. It’s been almost two years now my family decided that it was time for her MBELEKO.
On the 1st July we invited friends and family to come share this special moment with us. On Saturday morning my dad woke up and went to buy a goat…..I was shocked when he came home and told us that the small goat cost him R2000!!!!!!!
BUT it was worth it. After that we went into emsamo( this is where we usually talk to our ancestors and pray asking for guidance) to start the ceremony.

The goat was taken into the emsamo and incense was burnt with traditional beer. The incense is burnt to connect to the ancestors, the beer is made as a drink for the dead, the candles (white) are lit as a sign that the ancestors to bring good luck and fortune for whatever we are asking from them.

Ntokozo was scared as she had never seen a goat before….but I as her mother the whole weekend had to have my head covered and wore a long dress or skirt as a sign or respect.

My dad went in with the whole family and the goat along with Ntokozo. As he spoke he began by calling all those who have died and our clang names ( izithakazelo)

I must say being Zulu or African is something one must be proud of and not ashamed of our culture.

During that moment my father gave he another name to add onto the one she already has;

So as of that moment her name changed to Ntokozo Zamangwane Khanyile (meaning the happiness of the khanyile family)

The meat is cooked in the traditional way meaning there is no spice or seasoning allowed. We have to eat it boiled with either pap or dumbling as our forefathers had.

After the little ceremony the men got to work and slaughtered the goat.

Leaving the women to wash it and cook it.

Early Sunday morning before the feast begun we had to wake up at 6am to go put on ispandla on our hands. Ispandla is a goat skin that is put around the hand to symbolise that we have had contact with the dead.

On should be proud of it, although it smells I can’t do nothing about it but embrace it.
As Africans we tend to be so embarraced about the kind of cultutres we live by instead of being proud of it. After what I saw this past weekend I must say I m very proud to be a Zulu Diva.









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  3. Thanks for sharing your story with us. I have learnt something today.

  4. I would really love to get in touch with you, for the lack of knowledge of our traditions I have more questions then answers.