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Video shows Zulus celebrating holiday, not vaccine mandate protest

October 1, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: Video shows Zulus in traditional clothing chanting on a street in South Africa to protest vaccine mandates in the country.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The South African government has not mandated vaccines. The Zulus shown in the video wearing battle regalia are celebrating Heritage Day, not protesting vaccines or vaccine mandates.

THE FACTS: False claims that Zulus in South Africa were protesting mandatory vaccinations began circulating widely on Tuesday on TikTok and Instagram.

A popular Instagram page called indigenous_carolina, which focuses on African American history, slavery and colonization, posted a video showing Zulus singing and chanting on the sidewalks and streets of KwaDukuza in South Africa. Text over the video in the post states, “THE ZULU COME OUT STRONGLY TO REJECT MANDATORY VAX.”

The video is real, but the description is not.

“This is fake news,” said Siphamandla Goge, a journalist working for eNews Channel Africa, who took the original video and posted it to Twitter. “This had nothing to do with the vaccinations. It was the commemoration of Heritage Day.”

Goge’s Twitter post featuring the video said, “#heritageday2021 More Amabutho nezintombi arrive KwaDukuza to commemorate uMkhosi weLembe.” No text appeared over the video Goge posted.

Goge added that Heritage Day, originally known as King Shaka Day, began as a commemoration of King Shaka. It is celebrated annually on Sept. 24, the day he is thought to have died in 1828. The South African government made the celebration a public holiday, recognizing the country’s diverse cultures on what is now known as Heritage Day.

According to Shalo Mbatha, scholar of the Zulu royal family and lecturer at the University of Zululand, King Shaka is credited with creating the Zulu empire, innovating in military techniques and strategies and repelling British attempts to colonize the region.

“King Shaka to the Zulu is our Jesus Christ,” Mbatha said. “He brought in the golden era for the Zulus. He created them from a tiny kingdom to an incredible empire.”

According to The Associated Press, the South African government has not mandated vaccines, and will leave it up to businesses to decide whether or not to make vaccinations mandatory for employees and clients. The Zulu royal family also has not mandated vaccines.

“I verified with the royal family there is no official stance on vaccines,” Mbatha said. “As the king said, people must follow their consciences.”

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.