Translator:Nyoi-Bo StudioEditor:Nyoi-Bo Studio
In ancient times, all African countries had a complete chieftain system, and the whole of
Africa was a tribal society.
These large and small chieftain kingdoms have long existed in South Africa, Cameroon,
Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Cte d'Ivoire.
The grand chieftain was the supreme ruler of various tribal associations and had
absolute power in all things, such as making laws, presiding over the administration,
directing wars, performing sacrificial rites, adjudicating arguable cases, collecting taxes
and so on.
In some countries, chieftain societies were classified by government decree as grades
one, two, and three, according to the size of their territory, their population, and their
Zulu people still had many traditional customs. To the present day, the chiefs were still
the speakers of the tribe. In addition, the main tribe was divided into many small tribes,
each of those having its own chief.
When the British ruled over South Africa, they had attempted to reduce the influence of
the Zulu people by forcibly abolishing system of chieftain hierarchy. However, that did
not help. The position of chief was determined by one’s birth, and the Zulu stubbornly
and firmly followed their leaders.
The lion hunter explained these customs to Li Du. When he heard about the chief, Li Du
asked, “Are you the chief of your tribe?”
At this, the lion hunter laughed. “No, I am the rebel of my tribe. How can I be a chief?
The chief and I are enemies.”
Li Du was surprised. “Why?”
The lion hunter smiled, but instead of answering the question, he changed the subject.
“We Zulus are polygamous. Li, are you interested in joining our Zulu tribe?”
Seeing that he avoided the question, Li Du didn’t press further. Smiling as well, he said,
“Forget it, I think one wife is enough. Having several would be too tiresome.”
The lion hunter nodded in agreement and said, “Yes, it’s not good to have many
women. When I was young, I could hunt lions with just a spear. I spent too much time
on women and now I could not even fight a hyena.”
Hyena was an animal with excellent fighting skills. Otherwise, it would not have gained
the name of the second brother in Africa. It was great to be able to fight hyenas…
however, this was not the point. Li Du did not mean physical weariness, but mental
exhaustion. It was not worth pressing the point, though, since he realized that he and
the lion hunter would never agree in this respect.
Big Ivan and Lu Guan, however, were interested in the topic and started to ask
questions. The lion hunter liked to talk about it as well, and shared from his store of
Polygamy was common among African chieftains, many of whom had more than a
dozen wives. In the lion hunter’s tribe, their chief had twelve wives. The oldest was
seventy years old, while the youngest was the same age as his granddaughter. He had
65 children, not counting the dead, and a large family, which helped him to assert his
“The one who had set the highest record in this respect was a chief of the kingdom of
Benin in ancient times, who had more than 4,000 concubines during his life, man, more
than 4,000!” the lion hunter said with emphasis.
Big Ivan’s eyes almost popped out. “Man, I don’t know if I have even seen four
thousand women in my life till now!”
“It was the same in the ancient Chinese imperial court,” Lu Guan showed off his rich
knowledge of history.
Satisfied with their attitude, the lion hunter went on, “And after the chief’s death, he
chose 400 of the youngest, most beautiful women and ordered them to drink poisoned
wine and die with him!”
“An evil feudal dynasty,” Big Ivan and Lu Guan cursed together.
Polygamy had been common among the Zulu people and in a large part of Africa in
general, with men in their 40s and 50s being especially keen to marry. To them, wives
were not instruments of pleasure, but sources of cheap labor and children.
Now the situation was better. A long time ago, property, such as houses, was worthless,
there were no banks to keep money in, and an African tribesman’s only real wealth was
The helicopter took off, landed twice, and made its final landing on dry grassland.
In winter, the African savannas would dry up, and the shrubs and trees would languish.
There was, however, plenty of livestock here. When the helicopter landed, there was a
herd of cows and sheep grazing nearby. The whirling of the propeller clearly scared
them, and they started making alarmed noises.
Farther away, there was a cluster of bungalows akin to a town, where they could see
cars driving around from their position in the air.
“Have we reached your tribe yet?” asked Li Du.
The lion hunter shook his head and said, “We Zulus believe that everything in the world
happens through the transmission of our ancestors’ spirits. Therefore, the land where
our ancestors had lived is sacred and one is not allowed to enter it without permission,
certainly not by helicopter.”
Li Du understood and asked, “How far are we from your tribe now? It’s a little far, isn’t
The lion hunter pointed ahead and said, “Another hundred meters, and you’ll see our
Li Du said, “Okay!”
It was a nice sideline shot. He did not know if those were just his feelings, but he felt
that the lion hunter probably didn’t have much affection for the tribe either.
A Zulu man’s wealth was not measured by how many houses or cars, or how much land
he had, but by the size of his family and the numbers of his livestock.
As they entered the tribal area, a black woman in a yellow blouse and blue skirt waved
at them with a sheep whip and spoke quickly and enthusiastically.
The lion hunter replied with a broad smile and waved as one of the bodyguards handed
a gift box to the black woman.
Seeing the gift, the black woman spoke more warmly, but Li Du could understand
nothing of the Zulu language.
The lion hunters said goodbye to the black woman, and the group moved on. The town
was the place where the tribe had settled down for now. They did not move their homes
like they used to, and remained in one place.
Zulu people living in rural areas were mainly farmers and herders. They loved keeping
livestock and grew corn as their main food.
Among the livestock raised, the most precious one was the cow, which they used not
only for meat but also to plow the land. Cows were commonly given as a betrothal
Since ancient times, when a Zulu man asked for a woman’s hand, the betrothal gift for
the bride was 11 cows. This custom has lasted for several centuries and remained
unchanged until modern times. One could say that there were no changes in the system
of betrothal gifts.
As they got nearer to the town, the number of pedestrians increased. Li Du looked down
at his feet and followed the lion hunter.
Eliciting Sophie’s contempt, Big Ivan and Lu Guan kept staring at the Zulu girls.
Zulu people were portrayed as an “agricultural tribe with weird customs” in popular
media. One of the customs was that Zulu girls walked around topless and bare-chested.
Only married women covered their torso.