Diocesan Family Service and the Celebration of The Unveiling of A Statue of The Rt Revd Dr Alphaeus Hamilton Zulu Former Bishop of the Diocese of Zululand and Swaziland Former Suffragan Bishop of St Johns (Transkei) Diocese And Former President of the World Council of Churches
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President of the Inkatha Freedom Party
How wonderful it is to see the KwaZulu Natal Heritage Foundation honouring the Right Reverend Dr Alphaeus Hamilton Zulu. Many times, the IFP has celebrated his life, his wise leadership, great faith and strong convictions. He was the first National Chairperson of Inkatha and lived the very principles Inkatha espoused.
But he was not just an IFP hero. He was the first black bishop, in the Diocese of Zululand and Swaziland. He was President of the World Council of Churches. He was a friend of Inkosi Albert Luthuli, with whom he joined the ANC, and he was the first Speaker of the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly.
It is therefore right that he is honoured by all.
Bishop Zulu was my uncle, my spiritual father, my mentor and advisor. We were both descendants of Jama; grandfather of King Shaka, King Dingane and King Mpande. My grandfather and Bishop Zulu’s father fought side by side at Isandlwana. His father served in King Cetshwayo’s regiments, over which my great grandfather, Inkosi Mnyamana Buthelezi, was Commander-in-Chief.
At every significant moment of my life, Bishop Zulu was present. He prepared me for confirmation at St Faith’s in Durban, where he served for 20 years. He encouraged me at my installation as Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan. He preached self-help and self-reliance, which became the cornerstones of Inkatha. He rejected violent struggle, reaffirming my own principles and those of Inkosi Luthuli. These two great men were my mentors.
Bishop Zulu played a key role in the formation of Inkatha. In 1973, when I visited President Kaunda to thank Zambia for giving sanctuary to all our political exiles, President Kaunda advised me to start a membership-based organisation to reignite political mobilisation and create a cohesive force.
I immediately sought Bishop Zulu’s advice. He agreed, and even suggested the name Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe. By emphasising the cultural aspect, he said, we might avoid being banned.
I also canvassed the views of Mr Oliver Tambo, leader of the ANC’s mission-in-exile, for we had worked closely together for years in pursuit of liberation. He too agreed. It was Mr Tambo and Inkosi Luthuli who had urged me to accept the leadership of KwaZulu, so that we could undermine the apartheid system from within.
Bishop Zulu left both the World Council of Churches and the ANC over a fundamental ideological difference. He could not support violence as a tool of liberation, nor could he support the call for international sanctions and economic disinvestment. People’s War would bring bloodshed to our soil, and sanctions would bring greater poverty.
When Inkatha was formed, Bishop Zulu was a founding member. He sat on Inkatha’s Central Committee and become our first National Chairperson. Thus he was part of the delegation that met with Mr Tambo in London in October 1979, where the same ideological rift split Inkatha and the ANC. Mr Tambo asked Bishop Zulu to chair that meeting, for Bishop Zulu commanded everyone’s respect.
He was a highly educated man, having achieved a distinction in Social Anthropology at the University of Fort Hare. He had held high positions in the Church and now served as Speaker of the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly.
As Chief Minister of KwaZulu, I later appointed Bishop Zulu as Chairperson of the KwaZulu Investment and Finance Corporation. Through his leadership there, we founded Ithala Bank, which Bishop Zulu named for the store of food kept near the roof in traditional Zulu homes. Ithala provided seed capital to black entrepreneurs, which no other bank would do. We created entrepreneurship and self-reliance in a climate wholly antithetical to economic empowerment.
Bishop Zulu was a servant of the people. He was both learned and wise. He influenced my life and my convictions. And he touched the lives of countless individuals for the better. As the IFP celebrates our 40th anniversary, it is gratifying to see one of our finest leaders honoured by the Government of KwaZulu Natal.
The Heritage Foundation was established under my leadership in the KwaZulu Government. Today, through the statue of Bishop Alphaeus Zulu, the Heritage Foundation reminds us of the principled leaders who brought us through a turbulent storm and into freedom. We certainly have reason to celebrate.
IFP Media, Parliament