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Title: Indaba  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Ian Smith, InDuna, Indaba Music, Xhosa culture, Swazi culture
Collection: Languages of South Africa, South African English, Swazi Culture, Xhosa Culture, Zulu Culture, Zulu Words and Phrases
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


An indaba is an important conference held by the izinDuna (principal men) of the Zulu or Xhosa peoples of South Africa. (Such meetings are also practiced by the Swazi, who refer to them using the close cognate indzaba.) These indabas may include only the izinDuna of a particular community or may be held with representatives of other communities.

The term comes from a Zulu language word, meaning "business" or "matter".[1]

Current usage

The term has found widespread use throughout Southern Africa and often simply means gathering or meeting. It is also used in the Scouting movement. The World Scout Indaba was a gathering of Scout leaders.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, used the expression when he announced, in April 2008, a move away from plenary meetings voting on formal resolutions for bishops attending the 2008 Lambeth Conference. He introduced "middle sized groups for discussion of larger issues", saying:

"We have given these the African name of indaba groups, groups where in traditional African culture, people get together to sort out the problems that affect them all, where everyone has a voice and where there is an attempt to find a common mind or a common story that everyone is able to tell when they go away from it. This is how we approached it. This is what we heard. This is where we arrived as we prayed and thought and talked together."[2]

A number of 'indabas' take place annually in South Africa; these include the design, tourism, tax, mining and "baba" indabas.



  1. ^ Pettman, Charles (1913). Africanderisms; a glossary of South African colloquial words and phrases and of place and other names. Longmans, Green and Co. p. 225. 
  2. ^ "Archbishop of Canterbury: Better Bishops for the sake of a better Church". Lambeth Conference 2008 News. April 23, 2008. Retrieved Aug 9, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Conference". Design Indaba. Retrieved 2013-04-25. 
  4. ^ "Design Indaba: An Interview With Michael Bierut". Cool Hunting. 2012-03-14. Retrieved 2013-04-25. 
  5. ^ "The best of the world's creativity. 365 days a year". Design Indaba. Retrieved 2013-04-25. 
  6. ^ team digitalpro. "Western Cape Destination Marketing, Investment and Trade Promotions". Retrieved 2013-04-25. 
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ "Welcome to INDABA 2011". South African Tourism. Retrieved Aug 9, 2010. 
  9. ^ "South Africa's best loved parenting & baby expo". Retrieved 2013-04-25. 


The Tax Indaba, founded by the South African Institute of Tax Professionals, and co-hosted by SARS recognised professional bodies, is the largest annual tax event in Africa.

The Tourism Indaba is meant as a gathering of all those involved in the African tourism industry. The Tourism Indaba is one of the top three tourism marketing events on the global calendar and the largest in Africa and it attracts thousands of delegates, visitors and media representatives from across the globe. This Indaba takes place in Durban each year.[8] Since 2006 the 'Baba Indaba' baby and parenting expo has attracted tens of thousands of new parents to exhibitions in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, Durban and Bloemfontein. The name 'Baba Indaba' has been derived from the Afrikaans word 'Baba' meaning baby and 'Indaba' [9]

[7] The attendance of Design Indaba 2012 (including the conference, expo and subsidiary events) was over 50 000.[6] Design Indaba is the largest event of its kind, and in 2013 contributed R326-million to the country's GDP.[5]

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