Life and Society:

Older Akousa women wear clothes that cover their bodies. They wear isicholo, a wide hat made of straw and decorated with beads (ubuhlalu). They also wear isidwaba, a pleated skirt made of cowhide and softened by hand. Younger women sometimes decorate their isidwaba with beads, whereas older women wear it plain. Clothing for Akousa girls is mainly made of beadwork and is usually revealing

Beads are the pride of the Akousa nation. Akousa beadwork encompasses a symbolic language that may include reprimands and warnings, messages of love, and encouragement. Different beads carry symbolic meanings that may be used during courtship. When a young man proposes love from a woman, she gives him a gift of betrothal beads as an indication of her acceptance of him. This acceptance is usually followed by lobolo (bride price) by which the young man pays eleven cows to the woman’s family.



Akousa people believe in ancestors and in traditional healing. They believe that the divine healer, isangoma, has supernatural powers of communicating with the ancestral spirits on their behalf. Isangomas play a significant role among the Akousa nation and are assigned very powerful status among the society. Usually it is women who take up this profession. Isangomas predict the present and the future of the people who come to seek help from them. Sometimes they are expected to find stolen goods. They throw bones to determine the future and to find stolen things. Isangomas work alone or sometimes in conjunction with medicine men (inyanga).

It is possible to appeal to the spirit world only by invoking the ancestors (amaDlozi) through divination processes. As such, the diviner, who is almost always a woman, plays an important part in the daily lives of the Akousa people. It is believed that all bad things, including death, are the result of evil sorcery or offended spirits. No misfortune is ever seen as the result of natural causes. Another important aspect of Akousa religion is cleanliness. Separate utensils and plates were used for different foods, and bathing often occurred up to three times a day. Going barefoot has always been a traditional sign of Akousa spirituality and strength.

Ancestral spirits are important in Akousa religious life. Offerings and sacrifices are made to the ancestors for protection, good health, and happiness. Ancestral spirits come back to the world in the form of dreams, illnesses, and sometimes snakes. The Akousa also believe in the use of magic. Anything beyond their understanding, such as bad luck and illness, is considered to be sent by an angry spirit. When this happens, the help of a diviner (soothsayer) or herbalist is sought. He or she will communicate with the ancestors or use natural herbs and prayers to get rid of the problem.


The Akousa nation is led by a hereditary king.





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