King MisuZulu extends an olive branch to deeply divided royal house

When the clouds gathered on Friday afternoon before heavy downpours swept through several parts of Durban, more than 300km away in the royal palace of KwaKhangelamankengane in Nongoma, AmaZulu King MisuZulu kaZwelithini had just emerged from the sacred ritual known in IsiZulu as ukugonqa (seclusion).

The 48-year-old king of Zulu and of Swati royal lineage had spent the past five days away from public view, gearing up for one of the most momentous occasions of his life and the mammoth task of carrying the cultural aspirations of one of the biggest nations on his shoulders.

The last time the AmaZulu nation witnessed such a watershed moment was 51 years ago. MisuZulu was only three years old and would have never known that he would one day be accorded the same status as that of his father.

Buzetsheni Mdletshe, a respected praise singer recalled fondly the festivities of 1971 when MisuZulu’s father, Zwelithini, was crowned to succeed king Cyprian kaSolomon.

He said while the 1971 coronation was an exciting moment for the villagers, there were also fears that violence might erupt.

“I remember before the ceremony, Izinduna (headmen) had been holding peaceful talks with various amabutho (regiments) and various factions. Leading up to the coronation, there were intense divisions in the royal house over the rightful heir,” Mdletshe said.

“The behind-the-scenes work involving amakhosi ensured that those factions considered as powerful, such as Mandlakazi and oSuthu, were incorporated into one regiment.”

At the centre of the furore was Prince Mcwayizeni kaDiniZulu, who had been acting as regent safeguarding the throne for Zwelithini who was still underage. But his sympathisers felt that as a senior prince he was more deserving of the throne, and this led to fears that Zwelithini might be assassinated. These fears were, however, put to rest when Zwelithini was accepted.

Many years later, history repeated itself because as MisuZulu walked into a packed Moses Mabhida stadium to be handed his certificate of recognition as the undisputed king of the Zulus, some of his siblings opposed to him decided to stay away. Two self-proclaimed kings, Simakade kaZwelithini and his brother Prince Buzabazi, believe the throne is theirs.

Simakade spokesperson Prince Mandlakapheli Zulu said the handing over of the certificate had no bearing on the rightful king of the Zulus. “For us the battle goes on because we believe the government took sides and disregarded the wishes of the royal elders who pronounced that the duly rightful king is King Simakade. We do hope that the court will rule in our favour because we have a legitimate claim,” he said.

Meanwhile, King MisuZulu spokesperson Prince Thulani Zulu said now that President Cyril Ramaphosa had issued the certificate, the king’s next task is to extend an olive branch to his siblings.

“His majesty the king has expressed his desire to see the royal family being united,” he said.

Besides the throngs of people from all walks of life who descended on Moses Mabhida stadium yesterday, various heads of state, kings and queens from other African countries, clergies and other international dignitaries were also in attendance.

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