Ed was born in Vryheid and later went to live at a little German school ‘Braunschweig’ bordering the then Natal and Transvaal where his father was principal and his mother a teacher. His father was always interested in Zulu culture and would photograph the local Zulus in their traditional regalia. Ed’s first language was Zulu and he grew up entrenched in the Zulu culture. When he wasn’t out riding, Ed spent time with his friends, hunting rock pigeons or fishing in the Pongolo river.
Ed later went to Durban High School and followed in his father’s footsteps as a teacher. He currently lives in the Midlands in Kwa Zulu Natal and is married to Wendy and they have two sons.
He took up photography in his retirement and only began selling his photographs over the past year due to the overwhelming response people have had to his work. His knowledge of the animals he photographs sets him apart. Ed’s work also has wide appeal, blending in with more traditional interiors as well as the highly contemporary.
More on Ed’s connection to Zulu culture and heritage
Ed Schroeder comes from a long line of German missionaries who worked in Zululand. His great grandfather, the Rev H H Schroeder, preached in the Umfolozi Valley from 1860 – 1878. He was given a Zulu name, ‘Nongqai’. Nongqai spent nine years prior to coming to South Africa as an officer in the Royal Guard of the King of Hanover and his knowledge of military matters was brought to the attention of Cetewayo. A mutual regard developed between the two and Cetewayo frequently rewarded him with Nguni in appreciation of his military advice.
Nongqai had 5 sons, Ed’s grandfather being one of them also had a Zulu name, ‘Ozithulele’. Ozithulele, together with his brothers, were raised under the tutelage of the Prince of the Royal House of Zulu called Kwelentaba Ka Mathaka, ‘Joseph Zulu’, and these boys spent days herding cattle and learning about the Zululand fauna and flora. Bert, Ed’s father (Zulu name, ‘Khuzimpondo’) was so spellbound by his early childhood upbringing particularly by Joseph Zulu’s huge personality that he wrote a historical novel, ‘Joseph Zulu’ which gives a vivid impression of the life and times in Zululand during the Cetawayo chapter. He later went on to do research on the Nguni that included a register of a hundred different colour patterns of the Nguni with their traditional Zulu names. This research was also invaluable to Dr Marguerite Poland for her acclaimed book, ‘The Abundant Herds’. Marguerite dedicated her book to Ed’s father but sadly Ed’s father passed away before the book was published.
Ed, like his father, grandfather and great grandfather spoke Zulu as his first language and spent days riding out to watch the Zulu ceremonies in the hills near the German school where his father and mother taught. His father used to photograph the Zulus in their regalia and they came to know Ed well and called him ‘Ubibi’ which is the Zulu name for a meercat. They gave him the name because he would suddenly pop up in the most unexpected places!