Love among the Zulu people was a very private matter. A traditional woman would never say “yes I love you.”
Love must always be kept secret.
Love messages are transmitted in a most confidential manner, i.e. through beads. Traditional Zulu women always respect their husbands and believe that if they want anything they may write a letter made from beads to pass the message. They are normally made by young girls when they first lean the beading from their old sisters or mothers.
Here are some clues to understanding the meaning of the colors used in the various messages:
- White (obumhlophe): Whenever I see you my heart goes white as the milk of cattle when they are milked in the morning or my heart goes white as the goat’s milk.
- White (obumhlophe): I love you very much – ngiyakuthanda kakhulu
- White (obumhlophe): I am not laughing, angihleki
- Red (obubomvu): My heart is full of blood, inhliziyo yami igcwele igazi
- Ruby (umlilwana): I love you so much, ngiyakuthanda
- Red ( obubomvu) I am angry, ngidiniwe
- Red (obubomvu) for intense and jealous passion or eyes red with watching for beloved.
- Carnellian (umgazi): Usuthukuthele yini? Are you angry with me?
- Black (obumyama): Ngithukuthele kaba nabakithi bathukuthele, I am very angry as are my ancestors.
- White (obumhlophe): Uhlekani? What are you amused about?
- Red and White (intothoviyane): zikhala zome izinyembezi zothando, the tears of love will dry.
- Blue and White (inkankane nobumhlophe): Ngiyohamba ngikhala ngingahleki, ngikhumbulu isoka lami, I will sing a song that will always stay in my ears.
- Black ( Obumyama) : I wish to wear a leather skirt, ngifisa ukuqgoka isidwaba/ umshodo.
- Dark red (umdubu): Ngidubekile nenhliziyo yami ibuhlumgu ngawe. I am tired even my heart is tired too.
- White (obumhlophe) Faithfulness
- Pink (isiphofu): You are poor, you don’t have money to pay the lobolo, umpofu awunalutho nisho izinkomo zelobolo.
- Black (obumnyama) : Darkness (to the man – means that you won’t get me, I am in love with you)
- Green (ithunzi) : Noma ngiyakuphi ngofika ngithole izihlobo, ngokuziphatha kwami , Whereever I go I will make friends as I behave well with others.
- Lavendar (Ijuba) : Hamba juba lami bayokuchutha phambili, Go away my dove they will fix you up where you are flying to.
- Black ( omumnyama) : Kumnyama kimi indlela eza kuwe angisayiboni ngivenjwe uthando. I cannot see my way through these difficulties.
- Pink (umgcawu) : Izindaba zethu uhamba uzikhuluma emasthwaleni. You discuss our problems of love affairs with the drinkers.
- Dark Pink ( umdubu) Inhliziyo yami idubekile sengikhathele angazi okufanele ngikwenze. My heart is tired of it all, I do not know what do.
- Dark lapis ( inkankane) : Liyajabula inkankane lona elikwazi ukundiza likhala lithi lithi ngahamba gahamba. The ibis is luck, because if it flies it can also sing. I am going away, I am going away, let us go.
- Bottle green ( Inyongo yenkukhu) : Bayokuchutha phambili njengenkukhu, noma ngabe wenzani. They will pick you up in the same way a fowl’s feathers are plucked off, whatever you do and wherever you go.
- Turquoise (ifefe) : Musa ukufefeza inzndaba ezingekho ngami. Do not repeat secrets unnecessarily and indiscriminately.
- Pink (Isiphofu) : Ngikuthanda noma uhlupheka ungenalutho. I love you even through I know you don’t have enough money or cattle in your father’s kraal.
- Yellow (Income): Muhle kimi noma ningathini ngiyamthanda. She/He is handsome enough for me. (The girl is telling her friend that as far as she is concerned, that boy is good enough.)
- Orange (Iputukezi): Ngiyahamba ngiya kosebenza kwelabamhlophe kwandongaziyaduma khona ngizothola imali yokulobala othandiweyo wami. I am going to work with whites in Johannesburg so that I can have money to pay lobolo for someone I love.
- Light blue (ubulwandle)
- White: (obumhlophe) Ngiyinkosazane emhlophe. I am a virgin.
- Green (okuluhlaza): Ngiseluhlaza, ngimuncane. I am a green, innocent child, but old enough to be courted.
(text from here)