An indaba is an important conference held by the izinDuna (principal men) of the Zulu and Xhosa peoples of South Africa. Such 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".

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 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."


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