Her name is Beauty. She is Zulu. She waits on our table with great care and pride. We are one of many tourist she meets day after day. But to us, she’s our link to this new place. She is educating us on the ways of Zulu Nyala. She seems tireless. When she smiles the world lights up.
Then there is Princess. She greets my husband with respect when she recognizes his Zulu Love letter around his neck. She seats us and delivers our drinks. I love hearing her English. English as a second language is rarely sloppy. She is working hard at “getting it right”.
The “love letter” is a beaded necklace that a woman makes to be given to her chosen suitor as a confirmation of engagement to be married. This necklace is delivered to the groom by the oldest sister of the bride. He wears the love letter as a sign to the community that he is spoken for. The bride and groom do not see each other until the wedding. If a man is chosen by a woman, this means he needs to give her father 11 cows. Marriage is expensive. The wealthiest men have many wives.
One young Zulu man told of his 19 siblings. He is from his fathers 3rd wife. He is 21. He is expected to marry a young girl between the age of 13-16 whose family is well respected. He is studying at University.
His first wife would then be the leader of future wives.
It is good to be a first wife.