Vulamehlo! The Zulu language has burst onto the Internet with the launch of - the world's first Zulu news site. The website - powered by IOL - carries the same content as Isolezwe, South Africa's top Zulu newspaper.

For a limited period of one month, visitors to the Isolezwe website will be able to sign up for a free trial, allowing them to view this online content at no charge.

The online edition follows Isolezwe's hugely successful launch into the KwaZulu-Natal newspaper market in 2002. After two years of operation Isolezwe has already established a loyal readership of 339 000 readers per day and has seen incredible growth, placing it as the biggest daily newspaper in KwaZulu-Natal.

"We are really excited by the site, as it means we are now accessible throughout the country - and even globally," says Isolezwe editor Philani Mgwaba. "Until now, we were restricted to the KwaZulu-Natal region, but this site makes it possible to reach so many more people."

Mgwaba adds that the site will be useful to people interested in learning Zulu as a language.

The site's main audience will be drawn from the emerging, urban-based, aspirational and knowledgeable Zulu market. Whereas before, Zulu readers may have been hesitant or unable to go online, will encourage them to use the Internet as an information tool.

Ultimately, the site will be subscription-based, with subscribers having access to the site's premier content.

Babs Abba Omar, content manager of Independent Online, explains the rationale behind launching the site: "While the newspaper's distribution is confined to street sales, this site greatly enhances Isolezwe's readership amongst Zulu people - of which there are nine million in the country. It is a major achievement and forms part of the industry's commitment to providing relevant content to all South Africans."