February 13, 2016

2286 SOUTH AFRICA - The people and their traditions

South Africa is a nation of about 55 million (2016) people of diverse origins, cultures, languages, and religions. However by far the major part of the population (76.4% in 2011) classifies itself as African or black, but it is not culturally or linguistically homogeneous. Major ethnic groups include the Zulu, XhosaBasotho (South Sotho), Bapedi (North Sotho), Venda, Tswana, Tsonga, Swazi and Ndebele, all of which speak Bantu languages.

Some, such as the Zulu, Xhosa, and Bapedi are unique to South Africa, and other groups are distributed across the borders with neighbours of the country. About the Zulu I wrote here. The South African Ndebele are one of the Nguni tribes. Ndebele women traditionally adorned themselves with a variety of ornaments, each symbolising her status in society. After marriage, dresses became increasingly elaborate and spectacular.

In earlier times, the Ndebele wife would wear copper and brass rings (idzila) around her arms, legs and neck, symbolising her bond and faithfulness to her husband, once her home was built. The marriage blanket (nguba) worn by married women was decorated with beadwork to record significant events throughout the lifetime. A married woman wore some form of head covering as a sign of respect for her husband. On the other hand, art has always been an important identifying characteristic of the Ndebele.

From language to the form of dress and rituals, AmaMpondo are one of the twelve Xhosa-speaking tribes mostly found along the Wild Coast. Bare-breasted Pondo women tied a length of richly colored cotton cloth around their waists. They wear bright necklaces and copper and beaded bracelets on arms and ankles. Shoulder length hair is twisted into thin tight ringlets and covered with red floor polish. The mass of ringlets is then held in place by a piece of twisted cloth fastened at the back of the head.

About the stamps
The stamp is part of the series Small wild cats of Africa, issued on February 2, 2011:
• The African wild cat
• The serval - It's on the postcard 2286
• Carakal
• The felis nigripes
• The Profelis aurata

Southern Ndebele people - Wikipedia
The culture and heritage of the AmaMpondo tribe - Wikipedia
Much Bigger than Grownups: Chronicles of a Native South African, by Shelley Wood Gauld

Sender: Linda Rocher (direct swap)
Sent from Onverwacht (Limpopo / South Africa), on 23.08.2013

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