BY THE KZN HERITAGE FOUNDATION
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH KCAP
PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
SON OF PRINCESS MAGOGO KA DINUZULU
AND PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
KCAP Theatre, KwaMashu
Her Worship the Mayor of the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, Councillor Zandile Gumede; the MEC for Arts and Culture, the Honourable Mrs Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi; Director of KCAP, Mr Edmund Mhlongo; Director of the KZN Heritage Foundation, Mr Mbuso Khoza; Dr GN Donda; Mr Nhlanhla Mtaka; members of my family; esteemed guests and performers.
I am honoured to speak this evening about my mother, Princess Constance Magogo Mantithi Sibilile Thombisile Ngangezinye kaDinuzulu. Princess Magogo’s legacy has inspired several generations to respect our heritage, celebrate our culture, and embrace the arts. I am proud to know that, today, her great granddaughter, Toya Delazy, is an international music artist. She is one of many who took up an instrument or started to sing because of Princess Magogo.
Music filled my mother’s life. When I think of the talks by elders of both the Zulu Royal Family and of my Buthelezi Clan, they always tell us about the way she sang what in Zulu is called her Inkondlo on the day she married my father. For her Inkondlo song, she chose “KAWUSIDEDELE SINGENE KWANONGOMA”, her own father’s song, composed after the KwaNdunu civil battle between the Mandlakazi’s and Usuthu Regiments led by the young King Dinuzulu himself.
I remember too on the day of my installation as Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan, how my mother joined my late father’s regiments singing some of the ancient Hymns of our Clan as well as some of the Zulu family ancient Hymns.
My mother’s voice so much haunts me almost daily that sometimes tears well up in my eyes – particularly when we sing some of her songs, and other songs she used to sing, both Zulu indigenous music songs as well as Church Hymns. She was remarkable because although she grew up in the Anglican Church, when she visited her younger brother, Prince Mshiyeni ka Dinuzulu, in what was called the Rand, to get assistance for her trousseau, she met a pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Pastor MM Langa, who told her about the fact that the real Sabbath is Saturday. She was then converted to the Seventh Day Adventist Church. So she sang Hymns of the Anglican Church. And she sang Hymns of the Seventh Day Adventists. And she sang Hymns of other denominations as well, such as the Lutheran Church and the Methodist Church.
For her, music was not reserved for special occasions. As a child, I fell asleep and awoke to my mother’s singing. I remember her playing the piano and reciting the Psalms of King David. It was such a regular feature in my life that hers is the voice I hear when I open my Bible and read – “Ngenxa yokuba enamathele kimi, ngakho ngiyamkhulula… Ngiyakuba-naye esosizini, ngimkhulule, ngimdumise. Ngiyakumsuthisa ngobude bezinsuku, ngimbonise insindiso yami.”
My faith was nurtured in the rich soil of my mother’s singing, because she brought to life the stories of the Bible. I am sure that anyone who was raised in the Church is familiar with the hymn, “When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.” We sing this without thinking. But when my mother sang it, her expressive voice conveyed all the grief of the hymnist who was mourning the loss of his children.
Then again when she sang, “To God be the glory, great things He has done”, the triumphal power of the Lord was palpable, as though at any moment a chorus of angels might break through the clouds in accompaniment!
My mother’s music spoke of joy and sorrow, pain and healing, liberty and loss. She was an extraordinary woman, before her time in many ways. I am proud of her accomplishments as a composer, singer and musician, and I am proud of what she did in the furtherance of traditional music. But my pride in Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu extends far beyond what she did, to encompass the simple fact of who she was. She was a strong South African woman.
Princess Magogo was born at the turn of the century during the Anglo-Boer War, after her father, King Dinuzulu, returned from exile on the Island of St Helena. She was born into a long struggle for freedom, not just for her family, but for her nation. The Zulu struggle for freedom fed into the liberation struggle which South Africa engaged in the last century.
Princess Magogo was still a child when her mother, Queen Silomo okaNtuzwa of the Mdlalose family, passed away, leaving her to attend to her brothers. Her father, King Dinuzulu ka Cetshwayo, died when she was just 13, and her brother, King Solomon ascended to the throne.
She was in her twenties when King Solomon asked her to marry his traditional Prime Minister, Inkosi Mathole Buthelezi. Inkosi Mathole had 20 wives, but on the day of their wedding, in the presence of King Solomon, the Principal Induna Shameni Khumalo publicly announced that the Princess was Inkosi Mathole’s chief wife. This was in accordance with Zulu law, as my father had asked the whole Buthelezi Clan to contribute cattle for Princess Magogo’s lobolo. This indicated a contract that the heir would come from her House.
Also according to Zulu custom, on the second day after my parents’ wedding, my mother’s people sat with my father’s people to disclose the state of her health. My mother, they said, was in perfect health – except for one small quirk; she could not stop singing! This was posed as sort of a defect, so that her singing would be accepted as part of the package, as a newly wedded woman is not allowed to sing in the manner she did. I think it would have been impossible to silence her.
But her talent was recognised and embraced. She quickly became a renowned musician and a talented praise-singer, admired for her detailed memory of every event and significant figure from our past. She knew, and composed, the many traditional songs of the Zulu nation. Aside from the piano, she played the autoharp, as well as the ugubhu and isiqomuqomana.
A lot of academics from all over the world came to KwaPhindangene to get information on the history of the Zulu people. I remember visits by academics such as Professor Eileen Krige and her husband, who was also Professor Krige. Professor Eileen Krige will be remembered for her tome, “The Social System of the Zulu People”. Both of them were professors at what was then called the University of Natal.
I remember visits by Professor Otto Raum, who was later appointed Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Fort Hare. He visited my mother many times. I remember Professor Trevor Cope of the University of Natal. I remember Professor John Blacking of the University of the Witwatersrand, who sadly fell in love with an Indian academic and because of the Immorality Act both had to flee the country. We were in touch with his widow until her death a year or so ago. Her roots were in Eshowe.
I remember Dr David Rycroft of the School of African and Oriental Studies in London who had very long interviews with the Princess. I also remember the visit to my mother by Dr Henry Weman, the Organist at the Cathedral of Uppsala in Sweden.
When the Swedish Lutheran Bishop, the Right Reverend Helge Fosseus, heard that I was travelling to Canada as a delegate to the Anglican Congress, he arranged that my wife join me for us to visit both Norway and Sweden. We had quite a wonderful time in London, en route to Canada, with Mr Oliver Tambo and his wife Adelaide Tambo, and other exiles such as AB Ngcobo and others en-route to Canada.
However when we visited Sweden, Dr Henry Weman arranged for me and my wife to visit him at the Cathedral during an evening. Lights were switched off and only candles were lit. Mr Weman then played the organ for us; something we can never forget. Dr Weman wrote a book in which he wrote extensively about my mother’s music.
In the 1930s, a musicologist by the name of Dr Hugh Tracey was working to make the vast musical heritage of Africa more widely known and appreciated. He travelled all over, to East and Central Africa, and Southern Africa. He spent a significant amount of time with the Buthelezi Clan, recording my mother’s music. I remain grateful to him for doing that, and for preserving those recordings in the International Library of African Music.
Last year, I was visited by Mr Andrew Tracey, Dr Hugh Tracey’s son. He had just recently retired from his position as Director of the International Library of African Music, which is now housed at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. He came with others all the way from Grahamstown to present me with copies of his father’s recordings. It was wonderful to be able to hear my mother again, the way she sounded when I was still a child.
By the time my own children were born, Princess Magogo’s music was already well known and recordings of her singing and playing the ugubhu were played by the SABC, and as far afield as Germany, by West German Radio. She had become an internationally acclaimed composer, musician and singer. She had opened the world of traditional African music to people as far afield as America and the United Kingdom.
Another academic who recorded my mother’s music and that of the Buthelezi Clan was Dr Yvonne Huskisson. Many of the recordings for the SABC that she made were sent to me in the form of long-playing records.
Through her music, my mother gave voice to the deep expressions of love, honour, conflict, hope and pain that have been part of our people’s experience for generations. She imbued our cultural heritage with a dignity that could not be ignored.
To my mind, that was a unique contribution to our liberation struggle. But Princess Magogo was involved in other ways. In 1957 she intended leading women of the Buthelezi Clan in a march against the pass laws at the Mahlabathini Magistracy. I remember how furious she was when the magistrate said that it was not fitting for her to do so. I doubt she would have listened, but the government in Pretoria threatened not to confirm my appointment as Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan if she went ahead.
She had fought long and hard to get me installed. Her first battle was to persuade me to return to Mahlabathini to take up my hereditary position as Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan. At the time, I was reluctant, as I was in Durban planning to do my legal articles under Mr Rowley Arenstein. Inkosi Albert Luthuli and other leaders of the ANC came to her rescue. Inkosi Luthuli was my mentor and friend. Together with other senior leaders of the ANC, he urged me to fulfil what he called my duty to my nation. Thus I returned to Mahlabathini.
But the Government was not overly keen to recognise me as Inkosi, for they still considered me politically hazardous. I had, after all, been rusticated from the University of Fort Hare for organising a student boycott, together with other comrades in the ANC Youth League, against a visit by the Governor General. I was often in the company of leaders like Inkosi Luthuli, and I attended the large political gatherings at Nichols Square.
These rallies were addressed by Inkosi Luthuli, other leaders of the ANC and of the ANC Youth League, such as Mr Masabalala Yengwa. They were also addressed jointly by leaders of the Indian Congress such as Dr Monty Naicker, Mr Ismail Meer (Professor Fatima’s husband), and Dr Yusuf Dadoo who came from Johannesburg.
It was five years before Government would confirm my full installation as Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan. My mother was not willing to jeopardise that victory. She had always fought for my best interests. My father, who passed away when I was just 14 years old, had expressed the wish for me to be well-educated. It was my mother who ensured that his wish was fulfilled. At that time, education was a not a given for black South Africans. Had I wanted to stay home and herd cattle, that would have been quite acceptable.
Fortunately my mother’s determination that I should be educated was matched with my own determination to get an education. Even as a young boy I pestered her to send me to school. She went in person to speak to the schoolmaster at Usuthu Primary School near the Palace of KwaDlamahlahla. I was enrolled at the school, but the schoolmaster was strictly instructed to chase me away if I played around and failed to learn anything!
In fact, Princess Magogo initiated education at KwaDlamahlahla Palace. She started teaching royal children the ABC. I remember seeing some pieces of cardboard with the letters ABC etc in her own handwriting. Her brother, Prince Mshiyeni ka Dinuzulu, expressed alarm that his sister was going to convert the royal children from the Anglican Church to be members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. This was during the interregnum when Prince Mshiyeni was Regent after the death of his brother, King Solomon Maphumzana ka Dinuzulu. So Prince Mshiyeni then opened a school in the church at the Palace which was called Usuthu Primary School. The Princess used to talk and laugh about it, because she was very happy when her brother started this school.
Princess Magogo herself was a natural teacher. At her knee I learned the history of our nation. She spoke about King Shaka, King Cetshwayo and her father, King Dinuzulu, about the Anglo-Zulu War and the Battle of Isandlwana, as though these things had happened yesterday. She often told me about the day, when she was just six years old, that the soldiers arrived at uSuthu Royal Residence to arrest her father. She told us how the soldiers gave them biscuits.
King Dinuzulu had been implicated in the Bambatha Rebellion, as he has given sanctuary to Inkosi Bambatha’s wife, Siyekiwe (MaZuma), and their daughter Kholekile. For this, King Dinuzulu was sentenced to life imprisonment.
That was a difficult time for the King’s family. Four years later, General Louis Botha became the first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa. As Prime Minister Botha was a friend of King Dinuzulu, he ordered his release, although he was not allowed to return to Zululand. I can imagine the impact this had on the young Princess Magogo.
Princess Magogo was brought up by one of King Dinuzulu’s queens, Queen Bangwayo Buthelezi (oka-Sonkeshane), the mother of Prince Peter Matholegwaqa ka Dinuzulu. This was a decision of King Dinuzulu himself, after her mother left the Palace following a misunderstanding with her husband, King Dinuzulu.
I will forever remember my mother’s courage. She believed in liberty, not only for the body, but for the soul. Through her music, she expressed freedom as the natural state of human beings. Anything curtailing that freedom must be challenged.
In 2003, nineteen years after her passing, Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu was posthumously awarded the National Order of Inkhamanga in Gold for exceptional achievement in preserving and developing traditional music in South Africa. Her skill in playing the Ugubhu, the autoharp and piano was remembered, as were her talent for composing and her penchant for classical and choral music. Her giant footprints in a traditionally male domain were celebrated.
At the same time, her life story was being told through the first full-length African Opera, commissioned by Opera Africa and composed by Professor Mzilikazi Khumalo. Sibongile Khumalo sang the part of Princess Magogo and the opera, simply titled Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu, was performed throughout the world.
By now much is known about Princess Magogo. Scholars and musicians have studied her music and, posthumously, she has been the recipient of many awards. So I thought that tonight I would tell you something special that may not be as well known. We have requested the Playhouse Studio in Durban to republish what Dr David Rycroft from the School of African Studies in London wrote about Princess Magogo’s music. We asked that these be sold so that we can recoup printing costs. There is also an album of her life.
In 1963, film director Cy Endfield and producer Sir Stanley Baker came to Zululand to make an iconic film called “Zulu”, which portrayed the 1879 Battle of Rorke’s Drift. They sought my assistance to enlist thousands of extras for the Zulu regiments. As Inkosi of the large Buthelezi Clan and Traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation, I was well positioned to assist.
The role of my maternal great-grandfather, King Cetshwayo ka Mpande had already been cast. It would be played by an announcer from Zulu Radio, Mr Hubert Sishi. But when Endfield and Baker came to see me at KwaPhindangene, they were so struck by the family resemblance that they asked me to play the role of King Cetshwayo myself instead. I was honoured to do so.
I was not the only descendent of King Cetshwayo who was roped in to help. His granddaughter, Princess Magogo ka Dinuzulu, was asked to teach the actors some of the traditional Zulu songs. Being an expert in our traditions and culture, she quickly became an unofficial advisor on set. So it was that my mother and I worked side by side on a film set.
I am grateful to my mother for many things. She laid the foundation for my faith. She secured my education. She inspired my sense of identity. She gave me the example of a strong and courageous woman. But my deepest gratitude remains for the way she treated my wife, Princess Irene Thandekile, an urban girl, about how to conduct herself in an entirely new setting.
Princess Irene was a trainee nurse living in the heart of the city of Johannesburg. When we married in 1952, she had to make the transition from urban life, to being the wife of an Inkosi in rural Zululand. It was my mother who eased that transition. The two of them got along very well, and my mother was always gracious and kind to her daughter-in-law. In this, too, my mother broke the mould.
I am saddened on this occasion by the fact that my wife could not join us, since she is now a bit disabled and although she uses a walker she is reluctant to travel with me.
Princess Magogo was an exceptional woman. When she died in November 1984, her obituary was published by Dr Rycroft in “The Times of London”. He had, as I have stated, spent a long time interviewing her.
I am proud this evening to speak about her legacy as we launch the Princess Magogo International Music Symposium. I trust that this event will grow from strength to strength, honouring those who place our cultural heritage in the public spotlight. They deserve our applause.
I would like to thank Mr Mbuso Khoza, in whose mind was born the idea of holding this symposium. I thank the Honourable MEC for the Department of Arts and Culture in this Province, the Hon. Mrs Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi. I also thank Her Worship the Mayor, Councillor Zandile Gumede. Their presence at this symposium has added extra lustre.
I further wish to thank the very important personalities of our Province who have made all these contributions at this symposium. I thank Mr Edmund Mhlongo, the Director of KCAP. I thank Mr Nhlanhla Mtaka of Ingabadi. I thank Dr Donda. I wish to thank the performers, who include Mr Mbuso Khoza. I add the names of Ms Tu Nokwe, Mr Themba Mkhize, and the KZN Heritage Ensemble.
I further wish to thank Mrs Maggie Laganparsad of Playhouse Studio for the manner in which she compiled photographs depicting Princess Magogo ka Dinuzulu’s life.
I thank all of you, my fellow compatriots, who have made this symposium what it is with your presence. Finally, I thank all those who have made various arrangements in order to make this symposium the success which I think it is.
I thank you.