Unkulunkulu, noun

Forms:
Mkulunkulu, NkulunkuluShow more Also Mkulunkulu, Nkulunkulu, Oukoolukoolu, Umkulunkulu.
Origin:
Xhosa, ZuluShow more Xhosa and Zulu, ‘great one’, ‘God’.
1. In traditional Zulu society: the first being; the supreme being. Cf. Tixo, uhlanga, umvelinqangi.
1836 A.F. Gardiner Journey to Zoolu Country 314They acknowledge..a traditionary account of a Supreme Being, whom they called Oukoolukoolu (literally the Great-Great), but knew nothing further respecting him.
1852 H. Fynn in J. Bird Annals of Natal (1988) I. 105Some few Kafirs may be found who state their belief that Umkulunkulu (the Great Great), shook the reeds with a strong wind, and there came from them the first man and woman.
1857 W.H.I. Bleek in Cape Monthly Mag. I. May 291The inhlamvu say: ‘Umkulunkulu arose from beneath, he came out of the reed; he created all nations, all living animals, and all things on earth.’ [Note] The spiritual world appears to the Zulu to be beneath. Reed is said to signify origin, beginning.
1870 H. Callaway Religious System of Amazulu 17The unkulunkulu par excellence, the first man, is nowhere worshipped.
1895 H. Rider Haggard Nada 14The exact spiritual position held in the Zulu mind by the Umkulunkulu — the Old — Old — the Great — Great — the Lord of Heaven — is a more vexed question.
1910 J. Buchan Prester John 81He told them..that he was the Umkulunkulu, the incarnated spirit of Prester John.
1934 N. Devitt Mem. of Magistrate 213The true South African black is not nearly as much of an unbeliever as some other dark-skinned races. He believes in an unseen Power above. The Great Mighty One. The M’Kulukulu, as the Zulus say.
1952 H. Klein Land of Silver Mist 72It was not the umlungu’s god, as the missionaries said, who controlled the destinies of all men. It was Nkulunkulu, the Great One, the Spirit of all the Great Ones long departed...Nkulunkulu was more powerful and omnipresent than the pale god of the umlungu.
1967 O. Walker Hippo Poacher 112At the back of Bantu religion was the idea of a Great One, Umkulunkulu, who had brought men and all things living out of the earth — or was it out of the split reed? But Unkulunkulu was a shadowy personage, a kind of Father Adam rather than God the Creator.
1980 M. Matshoba in M. Mutloatse Forced Landing 120Man was created by Nkulunkulu so that he might avail himself of that which umhlaba (earth) was made to give.
2. Among Zulu-speaking Christians: God. Cf. Tixo, umvelinqangi.
1936 Williams & May I Am Black 95Samson..took one trunk in his left hand and one in his right, and calling out to Umkulunkulu to avenge him for the loss of his eyes, strained himself against the trunks, and with a mighty heave pulled down the great hut, so that everyone inside the hut and on the roof was killed.
1937 C. Birkby Zulu Journey 82Even those [Zulus] who are Christian today and believe in ‘Nkulunkulu’, the greatest of the great, still live in awe of strange demons and departed spirits.
[1963 P. Hinchliff Anglican Church 67In the eastern Cape missionaries had..used ‘Thixo’ for ‘God’, a word which had very few prior associations. Colenso determined to use the Zulu ‘Unkulunkulu’, the name already used for the Creator...There was considerable opposition but Colenso’s view triumphed and the word has now presumably acquired Christian associations.]
1975 [see imbizo].
the first being; the supreme being.
God.
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18361980