The homeland of KwaZulu (or place of the Zulu) was granted self-government under apartheid on 1 December 1977. According to the apartheid social planners ideal of 'separate development' it was intended to be the home of the Zulu people. Although it was relatively large, it was segmented and spread over a large area in what is now the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

The capital of KwaZulu was Ulundi and its government was led by Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), who established a good relationship with the ruling National Party. He also distanced himself from the African National Congress (ANC), with whom he had had a close relationship.

The government offered Buthelezi and KwaZulu the status of fully 'independent homeland' several times during the 1980s. He continually refused, saying he wanted the approximately 4 million residents of the homeland to remain South African citizens. Nonetheless, Buthelezi claimed chief ministerial privileges and powers in the area.

In 1994 KwaZulu became a part of South Africa when it merged with the former Natal to become KwaZulu-Natal.