PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
INKOSI OF THE BUTHELEZI CLAN
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY AND
TRADITIONAL PRIME MINISTER TO THE ZULU MONARCH AND NATION
Durban Exhibition Centre: 19 August 2018
Blessed be the name of our God and Father, whose mercies endure forever. Blessed be the name of our Lord, in whom there is no shadow of turning.
I greet you this morning with a heart full of gratitude. I am quite overwhelmed to see such a gathering of friends and fellow believers, knowing that you have come here to celebrate my long life and my long walk of faith. I appreciate your presence, for this celebration should rightly be a public declaration of thanks. The Lord has been good to me and my family. Let us give Him all the glory.
I am humbled by our leadership in this service by the Most Reverend Dr Thabo Makgoba, the Archbishop of Cape Town and Metropolitan of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa. Dr Makgoba and Mrs Makgoba have blessed me time and again with their attentions and kindness. It is wonderful to receive the Holy Communion through our Archbishop, and to receive his direct ministrations. I feel equally humbled by the ministrations of the Natal Diocesan Bishop, Bishop Dino Gabriel.
It would be impossible for me to name all the members of the clergy who are present with us and to thank you all personally. Please know that you have my deepest appreciation.
It is wonderful to know that we are also joined by the son of the late Bishop Charles Aylen, Dr Leo Aylen, and his beautiful wife Pauline. Bishop Charles Aylen served as Bishop of Zululand in the days of my youth. Dr and Mrs Aylen have travelled from the United Kingdom to share this special celebration, for which I thank them indeed.
I also thank His Majesty our King for his presence here this morning. I and my family are deeply grateful that this celebration can be shared with so many friends. It is in fact my family – more particularly my children – who have brought us together, for they felt that the milestone of my 90th birthday should be marked by a great celebration. I know that they have planned several events, but it is fitting that the first port of call is a thanksgiving service to honour the Lord for His goodness.
My only sadness this morning is that my beloved wife could not be with us, as she is recuperating from a long illness. But with my children, and surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, I stand this morning to thank God Almighty for the gift of long life that He has bestowed upon me. I realise that He has given me a bonanza of years, far longer than is normal. More than that, He has given me tremendous good health and strength in these twilight years. This has enabled me to serve my country and my people for longer than I could have hoped.
This gift of longevity is more than I deserve, for like St Paul I consider myself a sinner saved by grace. I have no gift of cleverness that has helped me live this long. Yet I have survived so many fiery trials, and even assassination plots, that anyone must wonder how I became what my old friend, President Mandela, called “a formidable survivor”.
It is all by the grace of God. I will forever be grateful that my mother, Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu, instilled in me the fear of the Lord. She taught me, in line with scripture, that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. I cannot imagine a better reading for this morning than the one which was chosen, from 1 Kings, chapter 3, which relates King Solomon’s request to the Lord that he be granted wisdom. As King Solomon asks, “Who is able to govern this great people of yours… give your servant a discerning heart…”
If there is any discernment in me, it is from the Lord. He has taught me continually how to govern His people, seeking what is good and right and just. He has also given me remarkable men and women of faith, servants of the Lord, who have held me up in prayer and inspired me to continue in the darkest moments. I think of Bishop Alpheus Zulu and the Reverend Erlo Stegen, and many more too numerous to mention.
I think of a string of parish priests of my church. And I think of Pastor Nicholas Bhengu of the Assemblies of God. I think of the founder of the Baptist Church of Nazareth, Isaiah Shembe and other leaders. I remember the Archbishop Denis Hurley, and can never forget his friendship and the Christian fellowship I enjoyed with him.
My wife, Princess Irene, has herself been a prayer warrior for all the years we have been married. I have appreciated the great faith of these servants of the Lord, as much as I have appreciated the work of the many missionaries who have served my people in generations past and even now. This work of serving is not a solitary pursuit. I have walked hand in hand with brothers and sisters in Christ, knowing that we are all part of one body. I include here all servants of God across all denominations.
So it is good, at this point in my journey, to celebrate in the presence of many who have witnessed the great blessings of our Lord in my life. I wish to thank the congregation of St Faiths for their contribution here today, in recognition that I am one of their flock. I also thank Prince Qedi Zulu for all that he has done towards this celebration.
God’s richest blessing is for me to see my family’s joy. Princess Irene and I have peace at this great age, knowing that our children have grown to love our Saviour with the same love that resides in our hearts. As King Solomon followed the path of his father, King David, we pray that our children will follow this path, for it leads to life.
I thank you.