INTRODUCTION OF HIS MAJESTY THE KING
PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
TRADITIONAL PRIME MINISTER TO THE ZULU MONARCH AND NATION
INKOSI OF THE BUTHELEZI CLAN
AND PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
His Majesty the King of the Zulu Nation, King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu; the MEC for Arts and Culture in KwaZulu Natal, Mrs Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi; Members of the Zulu Royal Family; Members of provincial and local government; Amakhosi and Izinduna; teachers, learners and parents.
On the 22nd of January 1879, one of the greatest military defeats in history played out on African soil. A battle was fought between the Zulu warriors of King Cetshwayo’s regiments, and the British redcoats. It was the most significant battle of the Anglo-Zulu War because it etched a victory in the psyche of the Zulu Nation that would last for generations; a victory that would make our strength known throughout the world.
By the time the sun set on that battle, the British Empire had suffered its most profound defeat. Until then, it had considered the War simply another skirmish. But Isandlwana forced the British Empire to accept that it would take the full might of Her Majesty’s army, a greater force that it took to conquer the whole of India, if they were to conquer the fearless Zulu.
As men fell that day, at the Battle of Isandlwana, there was a full solar eclipse, so that the day is now known as the Day of the Dead Moon. It is almost as if the heavens themselves knew of the dark time that was coming. Because the Zulu victory at Isandlwana sealed the fate of King Cetshwayo and altered the course of our nation’s future. Isandlwana guaranteed the Battle of Ulundi.
Stunned by their defeat, the British Empire sent a flood of reinforcements to bolster their attack on our Kingdom. Their enhanced forces were heavily armed with Gatling Guns and rifles as they prepared for their second invasion of Zululand.
Finally, at first light on 4 July 1879, the British attacked. With heavy artillery they slaughtered some 500 Zulu warriors, while almost a thousand more lay wounded. Lord Chelmsford ordered the Royal Kraal of Ulundi to be burned. Our Kingdom was defeated.
Your great great grandparents watched as the capital of Zululand burned for days on end. It remains the most painful moment in our nation’s history. They told their children of this terrible defeat, and their children told their children, so that the Battle of Ulundi would be remembered.
With our nation subjugated, the British continued to hunt for King Cetshwayo, eventually capturing the King in Ngome Forest in August 1879. The King was imprisoned and his kingdom artificially divided into 13 kinglets, sowing the seeds of inevitable division.
What followed was more than a century of struggle, to reunify the Zulu nation and to see our kingdom and our monarch restored to full recognition. We suffered the imprisonment and exile of our kings. We suffered colonialism and apartheid. We suffered the refusal to allow His Majesty our King to participate in democratic negotiations.
But despite all of this, the Zulu nation remains. We were defeated at the Battle of Ulundi, and we were subjugated. But we were never destroyed. Today our nation stands in strength, under the leadership of His Majesty our King. We still have a monarch on the throne of King Cetshwayo. And we are blessed to know that our King has reigned for 49 years without having to wage a single war.
I am proud to present His Majesty our King as he speaks today about the Battle of Ulundi and what it means for our nation to remember. It is right that he speaks to learners about this history, for you are the ones who will speak about this to the next generation. As we remember our past, we gain a sense of identity, knowing that we came from somewhere.
In our society there are many broken families, and many children don’t have a strong sense of where they belong. But none of us is alone. We are tied to our ancestors through memory. We are part of an enduring story that is still being written; a story that already had many chapters by the time each of you appeared on the scene. You are part of this story, and what you do with your lives will influence how the story unfolds.
Will our nation become stronger because of this generation? Will your lives reflect the strength of a proud heritage? Will you make good decisions, because you know who you are and where you belong? Our youth are the pride of our nation. We rely on you to secure the future.
I therefore thank His Majesty our King for gathering us today, so that he might speak to our youth about the past, and the future. Let us listen now to the wisdom of our King.