The Xhosa, Zulu and Swazi people brought the first ancestors of today’s Nguni cattle to Southern Africa during their migration from East Africa between 600 and 1400 AD. Since then, the Nguni have played an important social, economic and spiritual role in these societies. The beauty and uniqueness of each cow’s skin has long been catalogued in the tribe’s poetry.
A creamy, dun coloured hide is called ‘sour milk’ whilst the name given to a brown or red Nguni with large spots and faint white edging is ‘the stones of the Ngoye forest.’
One of the most famous stories surrounding these beautiful beasts is that of King Shaka of the Zulus. The king bred specific colour patterns for the many regiments of his army.
This would help identify who was in command during battle. His elite personal guard was recognised by their pure white cowhides, from the Nguni royal herd..