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Bonfire society agrees to tone down "disrespectful and racist" Zulu costumes at Lewes tonight


Thousands are expected in Lewes tonight

A BONFIRE society says it will tone down its Zulu costumes when it parades in Lewes tonight.

Lewes Borough Bonfire Society members traditionally wear black face paint and extravagant accessories but have agreed to alter them.

The decision came after the leader of a Zulu dance troupe booked to perform at the event said the outfits were “incredibly offensive”.

Zulu Tradition’s Thandanani Gumede said the first image he saw from a bonfire society’s pamphlet was an acceptable version of the costume.

However he said other images were “disrespectful” and included bones through the noses, dead monkeys, skulls, horns and huge feathered headdresses.

Mr Gumede said the costumes were nothing like a Zulu warrior.

A petition was also launched calling for the “offensive practice of blacking up” to be stopped.

Mr Gumede said the society was receptive to his suggestions and he did not think anyone had meant to cause offence.

The skulls, bones, dead monkeys and black face paint will be left out and more traditional headpieces arranged for next year.

The society said the costumes had been used for 100 years and things got a bit over-styled during parades.

A spokesman said the society had lost its way a bit but was delighted to welcome Zulu Tradition tonight.

Source: The Argus