The evolution of storytelling in Zulu culture

 
 
 

Zinhle Zulu is a modern day praise poet. She pays tribute to her heritage not only with words, but finely detailed illustrations too. Growing up, she heard extraordinary tales of Zulu culture. Safeguarded by oral tradition, these chronicles of history have been passed down over generations. Through her art, Zulu contributes to the evolution of storytelling. “I want to use my culture as a tool for teaching and uplifting others,” she says.

While studying at the Open Window Institute in 2017, Zulu won a Gold Craft Loerie Award for her zine, Holy Hustle. The recognition bolstered her confidence. To continue sharing these vital stories, she founded Zuluvisual. The illustration studio’s projects place a contemporary twist on the proverbs and fables of Zulu heritage. In her work, Zulu depicts her culture using vivid colours and bold textures. Her latest venture is a comic about a heroic young girl, Nandipha, who is tasked with protecting the Zulu Kingdom.

In celebrating her heritage, the illustrator is encouraging reading among youth. “Learning to read and write is the foundation to changing the future for the better,” Zulu says. Her tales engage South African audiences and enable children to discover their own stories. “If I can get Zulu kids to read things they can relate to when they see their culture, then I’ve done my job,” she says. With pen in hand, Zulu is advancing the tradition of storytelling.