Could the Sheppey Zulu’s be making a return?
A group that were a traditional attraction at many Sheppey public based events could make a return despite previously disbanding amid claims of racism & increasing red-tape.
They are one of the Isle of Sheppey’s longest running traditions, collecting thousands of pounds for many good causes & charities over the years, but their last public appearance was in 2015.
The Zulus’ demise made national headlines after people took to social media to question whether what they did was appropriate in the 21st Century.
But now they could be set to make a comeback as a new organiser looks to re-establish the group.
Maggie Bowry of Minster has put together a new team to reform the controversial tribe of cannibal warriors.
The men would scare youngsters on carnival day by running riot, shaking their spears, waving their shields and surprising people.
For more than 68 years they raised thousands of pounds for charity but two years ago they were forced to hang up their spears after organisers admitted defeat.
The Sheppey Zulu’s were a regular tradition in both the Sheerness & Leysdown summer carnivals. As visitors drove into Leysdown on carnival day, they would be greeted by the Zulu’s, shaking their collection buckets. The Sheppey Zulu’s were also regular visitors to the BRFM Roadshow during Carnival day to mess-around with the presenters.
The group, who amongst their costumes wore fuzzy wigs and grass skirts, blamed its demise on health and safety regulations and problems getting new members after it was accused of being racist on Facebook and Twitter.
But now Mrs Bowry, of Noreen Avenue, Minster, has used the power of social media to breathe life into one of Sheppey’s oldest traditions.
She organised a meeting at Masters House, Sheerness, on Friday, testing the water via Facebook, and has already enlisted seven members.
She said: “My granddaughter took part in this year’s Sheppey summer carnival in Sheerness but the one thing missing was the Zulus.
“They are part of the Island’s heritage. I thought it was a crying shame when they disbanded, the build-up to the carnival was phenomenal as they banged their drum while taking part in a beach landing.
She added: “I hope with new blood and my enthusiasm the Zulus can return, I know some people think they are racist but they aren’t.
Chris Foulds, who runs Masters House in Trinity Road and is chairman of Sheerness Enhancement Association for Leisure (SEAL) has agreed to help set up the group and tried to help them when they disbanded.
He grew up remembering the atmosphere created by the group on carnival days.
He said: “We want to see what support there is out there. We don’t want a few keyboard warriors to spoil the fun for the majority.”
The new organisation will be set up as an independent charity or not-for-profit community organisation so it can raise money for different causes.
To apply to be a Zulu, call Maggie on 07783 130447 or visit the Facebook page Sheppey Zulus and take part in the poll to gauge support.
Also, listen to BRFM this Friday Morning from 10am as Chris Foulds joins Peter Finch in the studio to chat about the return of Sheppey Zulus and how the public can get involved in making the return of the Sheppey tradition a success.