Zulu traditions reign supreme as King Goodwill Zwelithini is laid to rest

Zulu traditions reign supreme as King Goodwill Zwelithini is laid to rest
Zulu traditions reign supreme as King Goodwill Zwelithini is laid to rest

Africa-PressSouth-Africa. Durban – Five days after succumbing to Covid-19 complications, the late Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini was laid to rest in a burial which was punctuated by centuries-old traditions which are applied when a king is buried.

The straight-talking king was buried in a secret funeral which started before midnight and was concluded in the early hours of today.

The location of the king’s grave remains a secret, only known to the royals and a few people who attended his burial which was held behind closed doors.

The late king passed away on Friday aged 72, leaving behind six queens and 28 princes and princesses. He was on the throne for almost 50 years, making him the longest reigning monarch in the history of the 205-year-old nation.

Despite fears that Covid-19 would put a damper on the funeral procession, the king was buried in a dignified manner fit for a king who led one of the most revered monarchies in the world.

The king’s last journey to his burial place started around 1pm on Wednesday when his body was fetched from a mortuary located in the central business district of the small town of Nongoma to Kwakhethomthandayo palace, a few kilometres away.

Video: Sihle Mavuso

In a solemn procession, his body was escorted by Zulu regiments clad in full traditional Zulu regalia and it arrived at the palace at 4.30pm on Wednesday.

The journey from the mortuary to the palace took about two hours.

As the regiments sang traditional Zulu hymns, escorted the body and moved slowly, people lined up along the main road leading to the palace, paying their last respects to their beloved king.

Minutes before the body arrived at the palace, everything came to a standstill and there was complete silence.

Before the convoy hit the last stretch of the road leading to the palace, heavy rain fell. Zulu cultural expert, historian and former Ukhozi FM maskandi presenter, Ngizwe Mchunu, told Independent Media that on the late King’s coronation on December 3, 1971 there was also a heavy downpour. Mchunu said this was significant as another downpour on the day that he was being laid to rest signifies good luck and the he was the chosen one.

“Rain, not floods, signifies good luck and good harvest. In this case, the rain signifies that he was the chosen one, no mistake was made when he took the throne as it was given to the right heir,” Mchunu said.

Despite the downpour, the regiments and the people who convened around the palace were undeterred as they welcomed the body. They patiently waited while senior royals and the traditional prime minister of the Zulu nation, performed some rituals.

The rituals which were led by Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Zulu nation’s traditional prime minister and senior princes, lasted for about 40 minutes. It was done behind a thick wall of Zulu regiments who were determined to keep the rituals out of the public eye.

Since the king’s burial would be secret and conducted only by men, as per his wish, some rituals are kept private. An order was issued that all cameras, including those of news channels, be switched off with immediate effect. Taking pictures and recording videos using cellphones was also banned and that was strictly enforced.

At the palace, after a few Zulu rituals, the king’s body was taken to a marquee where royals were waiting. Outside that marquee maidens and women sang traditional songs and danced in a manner that spoke to the mourning process.

After the rituals and the tradition were performed on the grounds of the palace, the king’s body was moved into it by a few selected princes and Zulu warriors. Hours later, he was then secretly laid to rest, marking the end of an era.


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