Traditional Zulu huts are simple constructions made by hand using mud, leaves, branches, and tree poles. The dwellings are often formed in the style of a spherical beehive known as an iQukwane. The ancient Zulu clans had a highly ordered hierarchy, with the chief of the clan being a genealogically senior male. Other important males included the elders who advised the king on policy issues and the ulambashe (warriors). There were also junior nobles and slaves.
Modern houses in South Africa are mostly made from brick or concrete. But many poor black families still live in traditional huts for economic reasons or because they are all that can be built without modern tools and materials.
In urban areas, Zulu people tend to live in high-rise apartments or townhouses. But even here, not everyone has their own house. Some people may have a room in someone else's apartment or house, or use shared facilities such as kitchens or bathrooms. This is common among friends or family members who don't want to cause trouble by arguing over usage rights to a single resource.
People also live together in shacks. These are usually illegal sub-divisions constructed within municipal boundaries without the permission of the local government. When a housing shortage arises, as it does especially during construction projects, people will often settle disputes by building a shack on someone else's land.
Zulu villages are both rural and urban in nature, with the majority of people living in multigenerational homes. The majority of constructions are circular residences made of mud or concrete blocks, with a kitchen in the center. There are also rectangular buildings with several rooms.
In Zulu culture, it is common for families to share responsibilities within the household. Fathers are usually the head of their family and provide security for their children by eating together daily. Mothers also eat together with their children every day except during menstruation or if they are sick.
Children take on many roles within the family unit. They help with farming and housework and are always expected to attend school. When parents go to work, children often stay at home to look after themselves or go to an extended family member. This way children are able to learn responsibility early on in life.
After high school, young people can choose between going to university or getting a job. If they decide to go to university, there are many options such as law, medicine, or engineering. Young people who want to be police officers or soldiers may have to complete additional training programs beyond what is offered at university.
The population of South Africa is made up of different ethnic groups with each group having their own language. The largest group is the white population which makes up about 40 percent of the total.
Traditional South African dwellings are built with materials that may be found anywhere. Traditional resources are used to construct Zulu houses, including common thatch grass, hyparrhania hirta, black wattle, Acacia mearnsii (saplings for hut walls), Natal fig Ficus natalensis bark for tying material, and rock alder, Canthium mundanium for pole support. Houses are usually made on stilts so they do not flood during rainstorms.
In addition to these resources, bits of metal are often included in the construction of a Zulu house. These include pieces of old iron left over from other uses for which they were not designed, such as nails or screws; and new items, such as sheet metal. Metal is attached to the house structure with wood pegs or staples.
Zulus build their houses in clusters called "inshaans", which consist of between 1-4 houses. Each house has a separate entrance but can be entered from one side only. The floor is made of earth or clay, covered by a thick layer of sand or ash. There is usually a fire pit in the center of the room with stones placed around it for cooking and heating water. The roof is made of grass or metal sheets.
People lived in inshaans until about 100 years ago, when the government began to force them out of their traditional homelands and relocate them in urban areas. Many Zulus resisted this move and continue to live in inshaans today.