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EMBA Class of 2016 Trip to Shakaland

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 The EMBA Class of 2016 students with members of the Shakaland tribe learn about the rich culture of the Zulu nation

The EMBA Class of 2016 got our South Africa international trip off to a great start with a visit to Shakaland, where we experienced the lifestyle and rich culture of the Zulu people. The tour began by watching a brief video on their historical leader, King Shaka Zulu, and his rise to power as an illegitimate son of a tribal king.

Shaka is historically known as a conqueror who united numerous small chiefdoms into a powerful Zulu nation, as well as innovating the way the tribes conducted war. His first improvement was the short-handed or stabbing spear. After realizing how much more effective it was versus a long spear that could only be thrown once, he outfitted his entire army with stabbing spears. Secondly, he revolutionized the battle formations from a standard blocked line, to a crescent shape that allowed his army to surround their foes.

We were then introduced to a lifestyle of polygamy and the resulting tribal camp structure. One thing I found fascinating about Zulu men having numerous wives was that it was actually the women who pursued the men. This seemed very unorthodox and completely opposite to what I expected. Inside a Zulu camp, each man has a perimeter fence around his family’s huts and livestock. The husband has his own personal hut, while each wife has a hut to live in, as well as a separate one for cooking. The children of the family have “dormitory” huts for boys and girls.

Next, we toured the huts essential to every village: the healer’s and the king’s hut. Contrary to our American chivalry, Zulu men always enter buildings and are served food and drink first. The women follow and sit on the left side of the huts. It was explained that this was done for safety, but I am not sure I see what it accomplishes.

In the end, it was very interesting to get a firsthand look at how these people have lived the same way for centuries, seemingly undisturbed by modernity. The trip ended on a high note with our classmate Lana being invited to marry our guide. After some quick negotiating, a fair price was settled on 15 cows…

Hunter Jarvis

Hunter Jarvis was recently promoted to a national account manager for Dallas-based Dean Foods, specializing in broad-line distributors in the foodservice sector. He has spent his entire professional career at Dean Foods, in increasingly progressive positions. After receiving an undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University, Hunter is pursuing his executive MBA from the University of Texas at Dallas.  Read more articles

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