Religion, tradition and custom in a Zulu male vocal idiom

Ndlovu, Caesar Maxwell Jeffrey (1996) Religion, tradition and custom in a Zulu male vocal idiom. PhD thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

The study is about a Zulu male vocal tradition called isicathamiya performed by 'migrants' in all night competitions called ingomabusuku. This is a performance style popularized by the award winning group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Isicathamiya, both in its symbolic structure and in the social and culturalpractice of its proponents has much in common with the ritual practices of Zionists. And Zionists are worshippers who integrate traditional beliefs and Christianity. This study will reveal that isicathamiya performance and Zionists are linked in three major areas:in the sqcial bases and practice of its proponents, in the structural properties of their performances and tn the meanings attached to these practices. Firstly, Zionists, who are also called a Separatist or African Independent church, and isicathamiya performers have minimal education and are employed in low income jobs in the cities. Most groups are formed with 'homeboy networks'. Furthermore, performers, unlike their brothers in the city, cling tenaciously to usiko [custom and tradition]. Although they are Christians, they still worship Umvelinqangi [The One Who Came First], by giving oblations and other forms of offerings. Amadlozi [the ancestors] are still believed to be their mediators with God. Also commonplace in this category is the practice of ukuchatha, [cleansing the stomach with some prepared medicine]; and ukuphalaza [taking out bile by spewing, which is also done as a way of warding off evil spirits]. These are rural practices that have meaning in their present domiciles. The second area of similarity consists in the structure of the nocturnal gatherings that form the core of the ritual and performance practices among isicathamiya singers and Zionists. Thus, a core of the ritual of Zionists is umlindelo [night vigil] which takes place every weekend from about 8 at night until the following day. Likewise, isicathamiya performers have competitions every Saturday evening from 8 at night until about 11 am the following day. Although Zionists night vigils are liturgical and isicathamiya competitions secular, the structures of both isicathamiya choreography and Zionists body movements appear the same. These movements are both rooted in a variety of traditional styles called ingoma. Thirdly, the meanings attached to these symbolic correspondences must be looked for in the selective appropriation of practices and beliefs taken to be traditional. Using present day commentaries in song and movement, ingoma and other rural styles performed in competitions and Zionists night vigils reflect a reconstruction of the past. Isicathamiya performers and Zionists see themselves as custodians of Zulu tradition, keeping Zulu ethnicity alive in the urban environment. This is why in this study we are going to see rural styles like ingoma, isifekezeli [war drills], ukusina [solo dancing] that were performed on the fields, now performed, sort of feigned and 'held in' as they are p~rformed in dance halls with wooden stages.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Zulu, Zionist, Music, African Independent Churches
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > Music and Musicology
ID Code:3873
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:30 Oct 2012 07:29
Last Modified:30 Oct 2012 07:29
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