In the Zulu religion, the world of the gods can be contacted only by ﬁrst invoking the ancestors through a diviner, an important person in daily affairs. All bad things are believed to be the result of offended spirit beings or sorcery.
Cleanliness is paramount in Zulu belief. All people are expected to bathe at least once a day and sometimes two or three times. The rules about cleanliness apply to meals as well, as separate dishes are used for separate foods.
Ukqili, "the wise one", is the chief god of the Zulu pantheon. He controls the lightning. When lightning strikes a cow, it is assumed that Ukqili is hungry, and the dead animal becomes a sacrifice.
|supreme god Unkulunkulu|
Umvelinqangi is the all-present Zulu creator god, who manifests himself as thunder and earthquakes. He created the primeval reeds from which the supreme god Unkulunkulu emerged. Unkulunkulu, which means "ancestor", is the primary creator god. He grew on a reed in the mythical swamp of Uthlanga.
Three other major deities are Inkosazana, a goddess who makes the crops grow and is venerated in springtime; Mamlambo, who is the mother goddess and goddess of rivers; and Mbaba Mwana Waresa, the goddess of rain and the rainbow, agriculture, and the harvest. It is she who gave humans the gift of beer.
The Amadlozi are the ancestors of the Zulus. Humans can invoke the help of the spirit world by calling upon them. Other ancestral spirits are the imilozi, or whistlers, who whistle as they speak.
There are also dangerous supernatural beings that are hostile to humans. Tikdoshe is a malevolent dwarf with only one arm, one leg, and one side. He takes delight in fighting humans.
Those whom Tikdoshe defeats die, but those who defeat him are rewarded with magic. The Tokelosh is a small but deadly creature that will strangle any human who sleeps on the ground. Another mythical, malevolent dwarf is Uhlakanyana.
Finally, there is Unwaba. This mythical chameleon was sent to tell the people that they had eternal life. Because the creature was so slow, humans and other species became mortal after all.