Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
As our flight departs Lusaka from Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, I have a moment to reflect on the past four days, which I have spent in the company of two IFP National Council members, the Mayor of Umzinyathi District and the Mayor of Nkandla.
I was invited by His Royal Highness Inkosi Yama Khosi Paramount Chief Mpezeni IV to participate in the Nc’wala Traditional Ceremony of the Ngoni people of Eastern Province in Zambia. This symbolic ceremony is central to the Ngoni’s cultural heritage and is attended from far and wide by thousands upon thousands of people under the ten traditional leaders who serve under HRH Mpezeni IV.
In previous years, President Peter Mutharika of Malawi and former President Joachim Chissano of Mozambique have addressed the Nc’wala Ceremony, for the Ngoni people have historical ties to these neighbours. But their deepest roots are in the Zulu Nation, for the Ngoni originated in Zululand. They began migrating with the rise of King Shaka kaSenzangakhona.
I was therefore honoured, as the traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation, to attend this ceremony and to speak on behalf of the Zulu Royal family. It was deeply moving to see the Ngoni people – men, women and children – dancing and singing in a joyous celebration.
It was very similar in feel to the Umkhosi woSwela of the Zulu Nation, and for good reason. The Nc’wala Ceremony is based in a shared cultural heritage of Ukunyatela, the First Fruits Ceremony, which was celebrated in Zululand at the time of King Shaka.
Being in Zambia again was a blessing on many counts, for it gave me the opportunity not only to meet with His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, but to visit my friend of many years, His Excellency Dr Kenneth Kaunda, the first President of a liberated Zambia.
Seeing Dr Kaunda again after all these years was truly remarkable. When I celebrated my birthday in August last year, he sent his son, Colonel Panji Kaunda, with a warm message of support. I still hoped however to see Dr Kaunda in person. This wish has been fulfilled; and it was wonderful.
Dr Kaunda and I reminisced on our meeting in 1974 when I visited State House in Lusaka to thank him for giving sanctuary to all our exiles in the liberation struggle. Zambia had been free for a decade already, but President Kaunda, like many African leaders, did not consider the struggle won while South Africa was still in chains. He lent us support, for which we shall always be grateful.
I have a further reason to be grateful for President Kaunda’s visionary leadership. During my visit in 1974, he advised me to form a membership-based organisation to reignite political mobilisation on our soil, in the hiatus created by the banning of the ANC and other political organisations.
Upon my return from Zambia, I discussed this with Mr Oliver Tambo, the ANC’s leader in exile, and with Bishop Alphaeus Zulu. They agreed that this was the best way forward for our struggle. Thus I founded Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe, the national cultural liberation movement, in March 1975.
The birth of Inkatha, which became the IFP once liberation parties were unbanned, will forever be tied to that conversation with President Kaunda.
I will post a copy of his remarks at our meeting on Thursday online, for his words are historic. I was honoured when he asked me to visit the grave of uMama Betty Kaunda after our meeting. As I stood in silence at her graveside, my heart swelled with memories.
Earlier that afternoon, I had found myself welcomed again at State House, by President Lungu, who received me with warmth. The President and I share the privilege of having served our respective countries as Minister of Home Affairs. We also both studied law before entering politics. So we found interesting points of conversation.
Our hosts, the Nc’wala National Organising Committee, kindly arranged for us to be received on arrival in Lusaka by His Worship Mayor Miles Sampa. On arrival in Chipata, we were received by His Worship Mayor Sinoya Mwale. My colleagues, Mayor Arthur Thamsanqa Ntuli and Mayor Petros Ngubane, enjoyed comparing notes on the challenges of local governance and the enormous satisfaction there is in serving one’s people with excellence.
I was interested to meet the Chairperson of the Organising Committee, Ms Mkwinda Sakala. She is the first female chairperson to be appointed by HRH Mpezeni IV which highlighted the theme of this year’s ceremony, “Preserving Our Cultural Heritage Through Gender Equality”.
This was a pertinent theme, for gender equality must be placed high on the agenda in every forum, whether it is political or cultural. As I told President Lungu, I appreciated his appointment of Mrs Inonge Wina as Vice President of Zambia, for when I led the administration of the KwaZulu Government I appointed women to my Cabinet knowing that women are the backbone of our society and leaders in our nation.
I will post my remarks at the Nc’wala Ceremony online as well so that anyone interested can read for themselves the fascinating history between the Ngoni people and the Zulu Nation, and the hardship we both experienced under the colonial authorities. Among the many indignities we suffered, we endured the banning of our cultural ceremonies.
I thought however that I should commit to paper my experiences in Zambia over the past four days, as this was a very special time.
Yours in the service of our nation,
PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY