The Zulu Love Bean is as special as it is rare. As the largest bean in the world the Entada Gigas Love Bean starts its journey by escaping its massive seed pod (up to 2 meters long!) and drifts along swampy Zululand rivers set free to the sea.
The Love Bean (also known as the ‘sea bean’ or 'sea heart') is dispersed by ocean currents, often travelling 1000’s of kilometres to find new suitable habitats. The tough outer shell endures the salt water and stormy seas until it reaches fertile soil. It is a matter of luck and fortune if a bean survives to take root and grow. The Love Bean is thus a symbol of perseverance, endurance, faith and resulting bountiful rewards.
In traditional African folklore, the ancestors come from the sea. Since the Zulu Love Beans wash up on the shores of Zululand's beaches, they are believed to be sent as gifts from the Ancestors, bestowing blessings of good fortune. Thus finding one of these rare beans is considered to be very lucky. Exchanged between friends and lovers it brings luck, love and happiness and is also believed to render one totally irresistible to potential sweethearts. The Love Bean is thus combined with traditional African beadwork, and is found on masks, baskets, belts and jewellery.
Zulu Love Beans have even been known to wash up on Robben Island where Nelson Mandela is said to have kept a bean he found there.
Although extremely bitter the inner part of the bean (technically a seed) can be eaten and is often used by African Herbalists as a popular stomach medicine. The bean is also traditionally used to sooth teething babies as they are safe, organic and comforting to the touch.
Belinda Beckley, the original Love Bean Queen of Africa, runs this small community driven business from home where all finished products are lovingly hand made by a team of dedicated ladies from Khayamandi. Know that with your purchase, the Zulu Love Bean, as a treasured African keepsake or gift, symbolises the potential in all of us to grow through love, luck and happiness and to pass it on to others.