PRESENTATION OF HIS MAJESTY THE KING OF THE ZULU NATION
PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
INKOSI OF THE BUTHELEZI CLAN
TRADITIONAL PRIME MINISTER TO THE ZULU MONARCH
AND ZULU NATION
AND PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
His Majesty the King and members of the Royal Family; His Excellency the President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Jacob Zuma, and Honourable Ministers present; the Honourable Premier of our Province and his Honourable Ministers; Her Britannic Majesty’s High Commissioner in South Africa and Representatives of the British Government; Their Excellencies members of the Diplomatic Corps and Honourable Consul-Generals; Amakhosi; Honourable Members of the National Parliament and Honourable Members of the KwaZulu Natal Legislature; Their Worships the Mayors, Indunas and Councillors, distinguished visitors and honoured guests.
It is my privilege to rise on occasions such as this, to introduce His Majesty the King. I do so with a sense of history, remembering the lineage of our past kings, all the way back to the founder of our nation, King Shaka ka Senzangakhona.
Our King sits on the throne of his father, King Cyprian Bhekuzulu Nyangayezizwe ka Solomon, whom I served for a few decades. He was my first cousin, and my king. My father, Inkosi Mathole Buthelezi, served King Cyprian’s father, King Solomon Maphumzana ka Dinuzulu, who gave his sister in marriage to my father. My father also served in the same capacity under Prince Mshiyeni ka Dinuzulu during the interregnum after the death of his brother King Solomon ka Dinuzulu in 1933.
Thus it was that my paternal grandfather, Inkosi Mnyamana ka Nqengelele Buthelezi, served my maternal great grandfather, King Cetshwayo, and when the Anglo-Zulu War began, Inkosi Mnyamana became Commander-in-Chief of all the King’s regiments, under the King.
I remember these things as part of my own history. Indeed the Battle of Isandlwana and all that followed until the moment of our defeat on 4 July 1879, is remembered by many, not merely as milestones of the past, but as family memories. My own grandfather, Inkosi Mkhandumba, and his brother, Mtumengana, fought at Isandlwana. Mtumengana fell alongside some 2 000 Zulu warriors. But my grandfather stood among the survivors to cry “Usuthu!”
I have told and retold the story of Isandlwana many times throughout my life, just as I have heard it many times. I have imagined the Day of the Dead Moon, the dust and heat and blood. In my mind’s eye I have seen men fighting for their lives, as spears and shields met the bayonets of Martini-Henry rifles. The sounds and smells of war have haunted my thoughts.
But as real as are the deaths and victory on the side of King Cetshwayo’s warriors, so too are the deaths and losses among the redcoats of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. Under Lord Chelmsford’s command, Lieutenant Colonel Pullein and Lieutenant Colonel Durnford led Her Britannic Majesty’s army. On 22 January 1879, two nations met on the battlefield, and both were forever marked by Isandlwana.
More than a century after the Anglo-Zulu War, I found myself walking past row upon row of soldiers whose grandfathers had fought on African soil. I had been invited by the Royal Welsh Regiment to take the salute at the St David’s Day parade in the United Kingdom. Her Majesty the Queen had been their guest of honour the year before, and now I, as the great grandson of King Cetshwayo, received this highest show of respect.
Isandlwana was a singular moment in history, with far-reaching consequences. It earned for our nation unprecedented veneration and rattled the confidence of the greatest colonial power. It foreshadowed the employment of the full might of the British army against the Zulu, a greater force than was used to conquer the whole of India. It etched in our psyche the strength of our nation, and it sealed the fate of the Zulu kingdom.
The jubilation of victory at Isandlwana has its antithesis in the sorrow of loss at Ulundi. Ultimately, the Zulu nation was defeated and subjugated. King Cetshwayo was imprisoned and his kingdom artificially divided into 13 kinglets, sowing the seeds of inevitable division.
But the Zulu kingdom did not cease to exist. It continued to fight for recognition through the years and decades that followed. When finally all South Africa’s people gathered around the negotiating table to usher in a constitutional democracy, the long-standing issue of the Zulu kingdom remained, and it still remains.
Isandlwana was a well-spring of the struggle for freedom, identity and recognition. It became a milestone along the journey for liberation, which was taken up 33 years later by the African National Native Congress, founded by my uncle Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme. Dr Seme was married to Princess Phikisile Harriet, the eldest daughter of King Dinuzulu and granddaughter of King Cetshwayo. The struggle for liberation has deep roots in the Zulu struggle.
I am grateful that the role of King Cetshwayo in South Africa’s liberation has been memorialised. Last month I had the privilege of attending the unveiling of a statue of the King’s great great grandfather and my great grandfather King Cetshwayo at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town. In commemoration of 350 years of the Castle’s existence, four statutes now stand watch over the place where freedom fighters were imprisoned. Great leaders of the amaHlubi, Bapedi and Khoisan join King Cetshwayo, memorialising our shared struggle for freedom.
It is important that we have statues, commemorations and memorial plaques. We need tangible reminders of the past. We also need to honour the historians, academics and guides who recount the details of the past, keeping alive the spirit of moments like Isandlwana. I think today, with deepest gratitude, of the late Mr Rob Gerrard, Mr Ken Gillings, and Sir David Rattray, all of whom were taken too soon, depriving us of their remarkable treasury of knowledge.
As we remember Isandlwana, we remember the sacrifice of men and women who sought to maintain their own identity and inheritance in the face of war. We honour them for their courage. They have given us an inheritance that must be treasured. Because of their sacrifice, our nation stands. Because of their courage, we have tasted freedom.
We relish the fact that out of that painful past, we today have such solid friendship between the British people and the Zulu Nation. There are many events that have highlighted this fact. I count amongst them the visit to our King to Ulundi by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. We appreciate the many occasions where we have received assistance from Her Britannic Majesty’s Government.
Our King represents images of his forebears and on this occasion we pay tribute to King Cetshwayo’s regiments whose valour is commemorated by us every year.
It is my privilege now to ask that all of us listen to His Majesty the King of the Zulu Nation, as he delivers the keynote address for today.