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Orality and transformation in some Zulu ceremonies: tradition in transition.

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This study contains a variety of oral traditional formulae found in various places in KwaZulu-Natal which are used in the imbeleko ceremony and these formulae are analyzed in their traditional form and in a number of new formulations. The imbeleko ceremony is a celebration to introduce and welcome a newborn child, but occasionally even an adult newcomer may be introduced to both the living and the ancestral spirits. A full description of the imbeleko ceremony, the reasons for performing it, the procedures followed, an analysis and comparison of mnemotechnics used in the formulae and finally the application of orality-literacy theories to the rites and the text are provided. Variations observed in my research in the manner in which this rite is celebrated from family to family are pointed out. Zulus regard it as a must to perform the imbeleko ceremony for every child in the family. The reasons for this ceremony vary from (a) thanksgiving ceremony, (b) the official introduction of the child to ancestors, (c) the rite performed late to protect the child from misfortunes, (d) and to provide an opportunity for naming the child. There is also the imbeleko ceremony that may be performed in the life of the child when there are indicators that there is a need for it to be done i.e. when there is illness that seems incurable, and psychological crisis which occur even though the imbeleko had been performed. There is also a type of imbeleko ceremony for the first child that combines the child's maternal and paternal families. This dissertation concludes by comparing and contrasting the imbeleko and the Christian baptism. It is possible changes have taken place in the imbeleko ceremony as a result of external influences of the western Christian life. (NB This dissertation is accompanied by a video)


Thesis (M.A.) - University of Natal, 1996.


Baptism--African indigenous churches., Zulu (African people)--Rites and ceremonies., Oral tradition--KwaZulu-Natal., Theses--Orality-literacy studies.