What are they drinking from the pot?


Traditional Zulu beer pots called “ukhamba” in the Zulu language, are rimless pots made from fine clay are produced by women throughout the KwaZulu-Natal region.

Pots of this kind are made for serving & drinking a sorgham-based beer that is brewed in larger, roughly made clay vessels. The drinking of this beer is associated not only with the living, but also with the dead, to whom it is offered whenever ritual dictates that the ancestors must be remembered & appeased.

At the beginning of a meal or a visit, the beer pots would be passed around for everyone to drink. The  pot would pass from the eldest male to the youngest, and if females were present, which was very rare, the eldest woman would drink, with the pot ending at the youngest.

Africa Umoja Beer Pot

A close up of a traditional Zulu beer pots called “ukhamba”

The smooth black finish is achieved by re-firing the already baked pots in a dry grass fire, then polished with animal fat to honor the ancestors. The pots were decorated with designs inscribed onto the surface around the opening. This was not only for beauty, but to add grip.

The “ukhamba” range in size from a diameter of 6cm and reaching up to 40cm and more.