Introduction Of His Majesty The King
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
Traditional Prime Minister To The Zulu Monarch And Nation And President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party
Kwadukuza: 24 September 2015
His Majesty the King of the Zulu Nation; the Honourable Premier of KwaZulu Natal,Mr ES Mchunu; Members of the Royal Family and Amakhosi present; the Honourable MEC for Arts and Culture Ms Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha and other Honourable MECs; officials of Government; distinguished guests.
Over the course of almost 200 years since King Shaka ka Senzangakhona took the throne, the Zulu Nation has inspired admiration and awe in people throughout the world. History views King Shaka as one of the greatest military geniuses, crediting him with introducing a new battle formation, tougher shields and the short stabbing spear which was so effective in hand to hand combat.
But these military innovations were not the only reason for King Shaka’s renown. He accustomed his troops to the conditions of war, having them train vigorously even in times of peace. He abolished class and status in his army, having warriors earn respect through their valour. He had youths apprentice to warriors so they might be battle ready when they came of age. He assimilated conquered tribes, growing the Zulu nation, while assigning to every individual a responsibility within the broader society.
He was, by all accounts, an extraordinary leader. Some 50 years after his death, the nation he created fought the British army at the Battle of Isandlwana and won a victory that is still spoken of today as one of the most extraordinary. That nation, though defeated in the Anglo-Zulu War, remains today as one of the most cohesive, respected and powerful nations in Africa. We are the legacy of King Shaka ka Senzangakhona. As we celebrate his life, we celebrate our own identity.
Today, the throne of King Shaka remains as the centre of that identity. There is still a King on the throne, and our King still unifies and strengthens us. We thank God Almighty that, despite almost 200 years of struggle, the Zulu nation remains. We thank God for our monarch, and for the longevity of our present King who has led our nation with wisdom and consistency for almost five decades.
It is fitting, as we commemorate our nation’s founder, that His Majesty the King should speak to remind us of who we are and encourage us for the battles we still face. We have good reason to be proud of our monarch and to believe that he will lead us through these battles, with victory. Our King has proven himself steadfast in what he believes in. He has approached challenges directly and spoken frankly in all situations.
Because of this, he has come under fire and faced criticism from various people who have sought to vilify our King. But let us remember how our nation’s founder, King Shaka, was often maligned for his brutality. A strong leader is always criticised, for the character traits of leadership are often not the kind that seek to please and appease, but the kind that challenge and demand a response.
Thus even as we celebrated our King’s birthday in July this year, his name was in the public domain facing accusations of xenophobia, for speaking about illegal migration. Now, just two months later, the news feeds of the world are filled with stories of mass migration. Thousands upon thousands of people are risking their lives every day to escape conflict, and they are crossing borders that are increasingly being shut down.
Two weeks ago, I was in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and as I travelled I witnessed the sense of crisis in the Middle East and across Europe. Governments are scrambling to respond to the consequences of migration. This has rapidly become a global issue. It was never just a South African issue. It was never just about the Zulu King. Our king had the courage to speak frankly as we stood on the threshold of global crisis. Although what he said was distorted. That is what a leader must do.
Our King recognises that we are one human village. We cannot fear speaking openly about the issues that affect us all, lest we be criticised for venturing into a contentious issue. His Majesty our King was the one who called an imbizo and urged our people not to react with violence, and to accept legal migrants and refugees. We thank him for the guidance he continues to provide. He continues to be our great inspiration just as his late father was to those of us who were living under his reign.
His Majesty our King honours the throne of King Shaka. I am therefore humbled to rise as the traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation to present His Majesty our King, as he reminds us of the legacy of our nation’s founder. Let us receive his words with gratitude.