The Zulu Calendar
We wrote an article on The Xhosa Calendar a while back, now the time has come for The Zulu Calendar. And it was and has always been a traditional lunar calendar. The New Year begins at the sighting of the Full Moon of July on the Gregorian Calendar (Xhosa in June and Basotho in August). Then the calendar is divided in two seasons, uNyaka and ubuSika, rainy and dry. This seasonal calendar has, just like the Biblical one, has 13 months. But it gets way more interesting than that...
The 12 lunar months (inyanga) has around 28 days, corresponding to the cycles on the moon (just like the Hebrew Calendar). All the names in the calendar are based on observations found in nature and seasonal activities. Now the last month, the infamous 13th month indida (perhaps Adar) last only four to five days. Now, just like the ancient Hebrews, there would be much confusion about the 13th month which would appear every three years when the normal 12 month failed to correspond to the natural markers in their calendar. The extra month would be referred to as Ndid`amDoda - the puzzling month or the month that puzzles the people/man. These markers was done after look for the helical rising of the Pleiades, associated with the month of uNhlangulana.
As we alluded in the previous Xhosa Calendar post, Romans and Greeks calculated time after the equinoxes, but the Ancient Africans has always had a different way of telling what time it is. For fun or in all seriousness we have put the Zulu Calendar, with a basis of it starting in July, and paralleled it on top of the Bantu Calendar. The yearly feasts will change then as your starting month is different. Which one is the true calendar, will depend on where in South Africa you place ancient Jerusalem. Behold the Zulu Bantu Calendar were we use the FULL MOON as the Biblical New Moon, to start the year. Enjoy !
Bantu Calendar (July) ZULU
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Here comes then Izinyanga Zonyaka (The Months of the Year):
July or uNtulikazi/uMaquba - This is the month when the winds blow up dust.
August or Ncwaba - New grass after veld-burning. We also see trees and plants, produce new leaves, giving fruit and fresh produce.
September or uMandulo - this is Cultivation and the start of the farming season. This was formerly known as uMpandu but changed to uMandula out of respect for King Mpande. Often the month of rain, boosting plants.
October or Mfumfu - is the emergence of flowers and growth of Maize and Sorghum. We see plants growing progressively.
November or uLwezi - The word is a particular species of froghopper and in this month there is no shortage of them feasting on spring leaves. This is the noise of frogs and insects welcoming summer, the voice of SoNiNi in Nature.
December or Zibandlela - means ignore the path, which from old was a saying to traveling kind to pay attention to the overgrown paths and not to get lost on them
January or uMasingana - let us search for ripening crops and pumpkins. It is said women usually go to their gardens looking for good plants as most of it is not good by that time due to changing weather.
February or uNhlolanja - This is when dogs start their mating seasons, and the owners inspects which dogs they have been copulating with.
March or uNdasa- The month for being well fed and food is abundant (Month of Firstfruits for Xhosas, another hint and Scriptural passage). We see kids with big bellies as they had lot of food by that time.
April or uMbasa - Sweeping the threshing floors (a clear Scriptural reference) when the cattle is saturated, lying down and appearing sick, but just sick of all the good grazing. This is also a time for when weather starts to become colder, elders usually sit around a fire at sunset.
May or uNhlaba - This is the month when the Aloe plant start their bloom (a little earlier than Eastern Cape and Xhosa calendar). Sun is starting to set earlier.
June - uNhlangulana (The Scattering) This is when winds blow leaves off trees and the ground.
The Zulus have many ancient traits that set them apart as a good candidate for being one of The Lost Tribes of Israel (perhaps Zebulon (Zebulwane), Naphtali (Nobuhlali), Dana and or Gada perhaps a mix of these brothers) OR at least being a remnant of one of these tribes. Zebulwane was however, in the beginning a son of Guni (Nguni - again of Naphtali) as we have described before, so that is where his forefathers came from.
Now having accepted many bad traits, intermingling with the San bushmen and perhaps Samaritans, Assyrians, Greeks and Romans (But also Muhammadans). We see that the San bushmen was likely one of the very violent and bad tribes in the ancient Promised Land, we remember Hittites (Hottentotts), Amorites, Worshippers of Dogon (Philistines in the area of Gaza In Mozambique) the whole evil lot that always tried to kill the Bantus. These tribes were masters in dealing in witchcraft doctors (like modern Sangomas and the like) on a daily basis, embracing many herbs and questionable sacrifice rituals, all the way dragging their inner spirit down with them worshipping the Creation rather then the Creator, moving away from Qamata SoNiNi naNiNi. Having them described in the Scriptures and their customs with a certain amount of hate and despise, even by the Eternal One Himself...
Now the Zulus remnants The Land, as they are still very much inhabited in the KZN, have festivals that can easily be tied into Festivals found in Scripture like:
Umkhosi Wokweshwama - Is the annual harvest festival (Feast of Firstfruits) of the Zulus, observed usually in the Western calendar and December month, taking place at the Royal Palace in Nongoma in KZN. This is presided over by the Zulu King, conducting a ceremony as the sacred King where he closes the ceremony by dashing the calabash (kinda long melon) to signify that the people can now enjoy the fruits of the harvest. This was taken next level by Shaka, for muster and parade (show off). This festival is a blueprint of the old Feast of Firstfruits that used to be celebrated all over Ancient Israel and at the Temple in Jerusalem. It is a sacrificial ceremony were The Highest deity is honoured and given the first fruits of the harvest. This was preformed by the high priests of the Kingdom of the Bantus also, attended by King David, marking a time of prosperity in good harvest times after the toil of the seasonal agriculture. Back then, and now, it signals unification and removes notions of famine. Feast of Firstfruits is mainly held in KwaZulu Natal and Swaziland (Eswatini), but under a different name to the Swatis, Incwala.
Another festival is Umkhosi woMhlanga, which is celebrated mostly by young women, and we will talk more about that one below. Where Swaziland has a counterpart festival known as Incwala, again a larger part of the Nguni First Fruit traditions. These Zulu (nguni festivals) has inspired the modern African-American holiday Kwanzaa.
Now Umkhosi womHlanga, known as the Reed Dance - Is the annual Swazi event were tens of thousands of unmarried and childless Swazi girls and women travel from various chiefdoms to the Ludzidzini Royal Village to take part in a week long event (or eight days). Now if you read the story of Umhlanga it says, very much in error that it was created in the 1940s, under Sobhuza II and an adaptation of Umcwasho ceremony. Now it may have been an adaptation, however this tradition goes all the way back to the pages of the Bible.
Look at these verses (Judges 21,21):
And see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.
Dance to dances anyone? The terminology does not get any more African than that. English never loved anyone. And more traces in Jeremiah 31,4:
Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.