Tribute to King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu

King Goodwill Zwelithini Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/ Independent Newspapers

King Goodwill Zwelithini Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/ Independent Newspapers

Published Mar 12, 2024



In his seminal work The Eight Zulu Kings, renowned author on Zulu history, John Laband, takes us into the cloisters of the negotiations that took place a few weeks before the first democratic elections of 1994. Laband recalls how on April 8, 1994, King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu and Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi met with president FW de Klerk and Dr Nelson Mandela at Skukuza in the Kruger National Park in the Mpumalanga.

The only item on the agenda was how to ensure the IFP participation in the national government elections that would take place a few weeks later. Prince Buthelezi’s non-negotiable condition for participating in the elections was the status of the Zulu king in a post-apartheid South Africa.

Eventually, the following wording was agreed to by the ANC, National Party and the IFP:

“All parties agree to recognise and protect the institution, status and role of the King of the Zulus and the Kingdom of KwaZulu, which institutions shall be provided for in the Provincial Constitution of KwaZulu Natal immediately after holding of the said elections. The 1993 Constitution shall for this purpose be amended before April 27.”

As the nation pauses to honour and reflect upon the life of our departed King Goodwill Zwelithini, on the third anniversary of his sad passing which we commemorate today, it is instructive that we shine a light on the values that he espoused and the principles which he held dear.

There is no doubt that in the last few years before March 2021, there was renewed hostility against the Ingonyama Trust as evidenced in the Kgalema High Level Panel Report.

King Goodwill Zwelithini. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo

To his eternal credit, King Goodwill Zwelithini led from the front in protecting the land of the Zulu people from those who have never accepted the place of the Zulu King in particular and the Zulu kingdom in general as part of the indelible matrix of our democracy. Not only does the land have economic and social value – it also possesses spiritual value to the Zulu people.

The legacy of the late King is now safely guarded by his heir and the reigning monarch, King Misuzulu kaZwelithini. In order to consolidate the gains made under his father and to enhance the value of the contribution of Amakhosi in the governance of their land, His Majesty King Misuzulu has taken it upon himself to personally exercise oversight over the Ingonyama Trust Board as its chairperson.

The legacy of King Goodwill Zwelithini remains the compass by which our reigning monarch measures his steps. King Goodwill Zwelithini was diplomatic and courteous – but he fiercely defended the right of his people to administer their land and practise their cultures and traditions.

King Goodwill Zwelithini was the vanguard of the sacred traditions and values that sustained his monarchy over almost five decades. He was a symbol of unity and peace in the province of KZN. He embodied the royal resilience of his forebears – from King Shaka to King Bhekuzulu.

At a personal level, King Goodwill Zwelithini’s 71st birthday will forever be etched in my heart. I was part of the King’s entourage to the United Kingdom to commemorate the 140th anniversary of the Battle of Isandlwana. On July 27, 2019, St Paul’s Cathedral held a special prayer service for the King led by the Dean, the Very Reverend Dr David Ison.

His Majesty knelt down as he received prayers from the clergy. Later that evening we accompanied the King to Westminster Abbey, where a special evensong service was held to honour the King’s birthday.

King Goodwill Zwelithini was deeply spiritual and would often pray for hours with his royal chaplain, Canon Daniel Mthembu. We thank God for the life of King Goodwill Zwelithini – the king of goodwill and guardian of his people.

We implore God to guard his son, our King Misuzulu kaZwelithini, as he leads his father’s nation. We pray for God to imbue our King with wisdom and courage to overcome the many obstacles that the enemies of King Goodwill’s legacy have put in his path.

And as we fondly remember our departed King, we call upon the unbroken chord of the scion of Jama, King Shaka kaSenzangakhona, to sustain the heritage of this proud nation, which was forged through fire and battle, from Kings Shaka, Dingane, Mpande, Cetshwayo, Dinuzulu, Solomon, Bhekuzulu, Zwelithini and now Misuzulu, whose mission is to be the pillar upon which this great Zulu nation will stand.

His Royal Highness Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi listens to King Goodwill Zwelithini at his 90th Birthday held at Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi stadium in Ulundi where thousands came to celebrate. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/ Independent Newspapers

Reverend Thulasizwe Buthelezi is Traditional Prime Minister of the Zulu Nation and the mayor of the Zululand District Municipality

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