The Zulus, who belong to the southern branch of the Nguni-speaking peoples, constitute the majority of the population, and Zulu is the chief language. Many Zulus still live as members of a traditional extended family in a fenced compound (kraal), headed by the oldest man. Members of the family occupy beehive-shaped huts in the enclosure of the kraal, within which the cattle are kept penned. The prolonged absence of a majority of the men, many of whom are employed in the distant cities and mines of South Africa has, however, weakened Zulu society. The name Zulu originally denoted a people that, migrating southward, reached the area around the Tugela River in the late 17th cent.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.