The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Nguni cattle

The Nguni cattle breed is endemic from the South of Africa. This cattle is known by its fertility and resistance to diseases, being the favourite breed amongst milk and meat producers of South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Angola. They are characterised by the multicoloured skin, which can present many different patterns.

The Nguni cattle ancestors were brought by the Xhosa, Zulu and Swazi people, during their migration to South between 600 and 700 AD. Since then, these animals have played an important social and economic role in the development of these societies. The amount of animals held by a village or individual determined much of their importance to the rest of the world. King Shaka of the Zulus understood this cultural and economic importance and seized the control of the Nguni herds on his dominions. Shaka also bred the Ngunis according to colour patterns in order to produce skins for the several regiments of his army, henceforward recognized by them. His elite personal guard was recognised by pure white, from animals of the royal herd, the inyonikayiphumuli.

Besides the several colour patterns, these animals also present a variety of horn shapes. All different combinations were catalogued in the beginning of the century by a South African headmaster. This work inspired the Nguni Cattle Register, a compilation of terms to describe in full a Nguni cow or bull.

Last updated: 05-01-2005 16:18:47