The almost white Nguni calf of Napier, South Africa.

In Zulu culture ‘White is the colour of the ancestors, diviners and protection against lightning. As a result of this significance any white calf born in the byre of a commoner was automatically given to the king’.

In Napier, South Africa, recently a virtually white Nguni calf was born. Unfortunately (fortunately for the owner) Shaka Zulu does not live anymore.

Nguni cattle

There is not much literature about the African Nguni cattle. But there is this book “The Abundant Herds – a celebration to the Nguni cattle of the Zulu people” that’s worthwhile to read and is well illustrated. Written and illustrated by Marguerite Poland, David Hammond and Leigh Voigt and partly based on the study of Bert Schroeder (RIP). ISBN 978-1-874950-70-7; published by Fernwood Press/Random House Struik. Why I’m mentioning all this? Well… I grew up in an agricultural environment dominated by Holsteiners (and its varieties), Simmenthalers, Angus etc. in Europe. These are the most common breeds of cattle around the globe. Africa has its own cattle and we all have to credit the Zulu people for magnificent name giving (based on the hide patterns) but first of all for their efforts to keep the Nguni pure. Nguni cattle play an important role in the Zulu, Xhosa and Sotho cultures in Southern Africa. In a typical Zulu village the kraal is always the center point. It provided the villagers not only with milk and meat; it also served as bridal dowry (“lobola”). The more lighter the hide the higher the status of the owner. Shaka Zulu bred white Nguni cattle and his elite guards were recognized by their white hides. There is so much to tell about this disease resistant type of cattle. You see them grazing in Northern parts of South Africa but the last years farmers in other parts of this country discover the (commercial) advantages of this breed. In our small village for example are already 4 herds of which we know and a fifth one on its way. As I’m asked to picture Nguni cattle for a hide trader I snapshooted, by means of photographic study, quickly some Ngunis on my way to another photographic subject early this.

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