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Perceptions on cremation amongst the Zulu people.

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South Africa is going through a difficult time due to HIV/AIDS pandemic (amongst other things) which has caused countless deaths leading to major concern about municipal burial sites since such land is limited. There is currently a shortage of burial sites enough in to accommodate the vast numbers to deaths. It has been announced that some graveyards in KwaZulu-Natal, Alexandra and Soweto are full. Consequently, municipalities have been seriously considering campaigns to encourage people to opt for cremation as a way of disposing of their deceased loved ones (Daily News, 2010:1). Cremation is an act of disposing of a deceased person by burning their body remains. It has recently featured in the national newspapers in keeping with efforts on the part of the Government to familiarise people within eThekwini and elsewhere in the country with the practice of cremation. Cremation is, however a widely unpopular practice throughout African culture, especially among the Zulu people. Some of them think of cremation as a curse and something that contradicts their culture. In the Zulu culture there is a belief that death is not the end: a person who dies enters into the afterlife and becomes a provider for the family. Such a person is referred to as idlozi (an ancestor). The aim of this study was to explore the perceptions of the Zulu people on cremation as an alternative to the traditional practice of burial. In this study the population from which a sample was drawn were the Zulu people living in uMlazi and Zwelibomvu, a semi-urban area and a rural area respectively. As a researcher I believed that this study was necessary and important because it was hoping to help educate people so that they will be able to make an informed judgement around the issue of cremation.


Thesis (M.Dev.Studies)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2011.


Zulu (African people)--South Africa--Death., Zulu (African people)--South Africa--Social life and customs., Cremation--South Africa., Cremation--South Africa--Religious aspects., Theses--Development studies.