An isibongo is a clan name or praise name in Zulu culture. The term is derived from the verb -bonga meaning "to praise", "to thank", "to worship" or "to call by a clan name". The plural form "izibongo" (praises) refers to praise poetry, a traditional Zulu art form in which the fame of a person is extolled. Izibongo are classically performed in public in a dramatic style, and usually reference the ancestry of the person being praised. Since the advent of democracy in South Africa, politicians (presidents in particular) are often accompanied to public events by their izimbongi (singular "imbongi") or praise poets whose performance sets the scene for a speech or ceremony. In former times this characterised only traditional leaders such as monarchs.


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