a visit in 1996 to Zululand (a province of The Republic of South Africa) I
came across this lovely Zulu love letter entitled iNcwadi
(pronounced “I—en—che –wadi”).
|I have turned pitch black as the
rafters of the hut because I miss you,
If I were a dove I would fly to your home and pick up food at your
I have become thin like the sweet cane in a damp field
And green as the first shoots of trees because of my love for you.
to folklore, this was a message given by a maiden to her lover, not in
written form, but made from stringing coloured beads in a set pattern. In
the past — i.e. pre European influence — seeds would have been used and
painted with natural colours (clay, ochre, plant extract, etc.). Today
coloured glass or plastic beads are used.
goes that each colour represents a different message. For example:
|I have turned pitch black . . .
If I were a dove . . .
I have become thin . . .
My heart bleeds and is full of love
colours are White, Yellow and Pink, each with its own particular meaning.