Taboos and Ideological Values of Ndebele Society

Keywords: taboos; ideological values; roles


This article critically examines taboos and the role they play in Ndebele society. Taboos represent that which is prohibited by a particular society. A taboo is a social sanction that inhibits society from adopting certain behavioural traits. Taboos come as a stern warning against unwanted behaviour and are an important part of any social identity. Adopting an identity implies accepting the taboos and the social norms associated with that identity. This article argues that taboos are legitimate sources of information and knowledge against the background of negative ideologies that have devalued African modes of knowing. Information for this article was gathered through interviews conducted with Ndebele speakers and through intuition, since the researcher is a native speaker of Ndebele. Several taboos will be discussed that pertain to environmental knowledge, general scientific education, environmental health, preservation and conservation and social behavioural patterns. The article upholds the need to put taboos at the centre of discourse on the ideological values of a particular society, as they create and validate the worldview of a particular society.

Author Biography

Sanelisiwe Sayi, University of Zimbabwe

African Languages and  Literature, Lecturer