Today the line of the Zulu Royal House is strengthened. The joining in marriage of Prince Melizwe Dlamini and Princess Sithabile has begun yet another chapter in the history of our Nation which shall be spoken of and remembered among generations to come. I am honoured to attend this milestone event in the lives of two young people of such great destiny. I have known Prince Melizwe from the time of his childhood, and have watched with the pride of an uncle as his shoulders began to fill the mantle of royalty passed on to him by his father, Prince Langalethu Griffiths Dlamini. Prince Langalethu Dlamini was my maternal younger cousin, whom I also knew since birth. I knew his parents before him, even before they were married. My mother, Princess Constance Magogo, and Princess Mpiyamaxhegu, grandmother of the groom, were both daughters of King Dinuzulu.

Having known his family, which is also my family, for so many years, I feel it my duty and privilege to rise on this occasion to congratulate Prince Melizwe and his beautiful bride. Today, they have made an investment into each otherís lives, the returns of which shall strengthen and unite them in years to come. Together, they now begin a new family, rooted in the unity of generations past, and ensuring the continuation of our family line for generations to come. The silent cry of my heart is that Prince Melizwe's mother and father cannot share this day with their son. Yet I know their sentiments would be for unity, prosperity and love. On their behalf, I speak these blessings to my cousinís son.

This young man has prepared himself to take up the traditional role of his father, whose tragic death we gathered to mourn just over one year ago. Last week I met with Prince Melizwe to unveil a tombstone in honour of his father. I thank God that today we meet again under more merry circumstances, noting how the cycle of time unites family both in joy and in grief. I am saddened to know that Prince Melizwe assumes the great responsibility of becoming Inkosi Yasenhlangwini without the guidance of his parents. His new bride shall also carry the burden of this tragedy. Sadly, she is becoming part of her husbandís family under circumstances which are more demanding than usual. She will need to be stronger, more capable and more self-reliant than other women in her position are usually expected to be. She will have to behave like someone older in years than she is.

Her greatest disadvantage is that the elder women of her husbandís family have prematurely died, and cannot train her in the ways of her new family or teach her of the responsibilities she will need to face. There are grave and demanding responsibilities in being the wife of an Inkosi. Prince Melizwe's sister will need to share the burden, carrying some of the responsibility of training the new bride in the ways and traditions of her Clan and the responsibilities of an Inkosiís wife. I say this because I know how difficult the role of an Inkosiís wife can be. I have had the privilege of having a wonderful wife who has been by my side at all times. However, I recognise that she was helped in her success by the fact that my mother was very close to her for over thirty years, training her for the many tasks she had to perform. This enabled my wife to learn the things she did not know and to adjust to her new role in spite of originally coming from an urban area, and having grown up in a context different from that of my Clan.

In the face of these unfortunate difficulties, which surely are not insurmountable, I wish the new bride a smooth and happy transition into her new demanding role. I express this wish with the confidence that she will rise to the challenge and provide for her husband the required support and dedication. I know from my own experience, having spent the greatest part of my life in the public eye as a leader of my people, no oneís respect or support will mean as much to Prince Melizwe as that of his wife. Indeed, my sorrow at what he must do without in having lost his parents in the prime of his life can only be exceeded by the delight I take in knowing what he now has gained.

With every wedding I attend, I am reminded of my own wedding day. The memory is still one of my fondest and plays itself out in my mind as though it were yesterday. When I look at my wife, Princess Irene, she is as lovely now as she was on that day. I am almost surprised when I look at her, but surely humbled to know that next July we will have spent half a century together. There is no one I would wish to spend that amount of time with other than my wife. She has caused every day to be a day of thanksgiving and traversed every troubled valley beside me. I thank God that today we stand on one of the many mountains of our life. I know the blessing Prince Melizwe has received today. I know that the wisdom which characterises his family will have led him to choose a wife who will walk with him on his own path of destiny, forever by his side.

This is the rightful place of a wife. She should never walk behind, in the shadow of her husband. From such a position she will never be able to see what he faces and will be unable to support him through the greatest challenges of his life. Walking side by side, any mountain may be conquered. As Prince Melizwe enters the leadership commitments before him, perhaps my best advice is this: always ensure that the time spent conquering mountains never detracts from or substitutes time spent together in quietness and love. If there is anything I regret in life, it is that I spent too much time away from my wife because of my national duties and during the struggle for liberation.

I feel deeply the moments I spend away from my wife and my children, due to unavoidable commitments of public and political life. I know it is essential that I keep talking to them, for they keep me grounded in what really matters in this world. Our most valuable assets are the people we love. Our relationships carry us through every milestone of life, and along the quiet stretches in between. In the long stretch between birth and dying, we need someone to hold our hand and experience it all with us. Loving the person whose hand is in oneís own colours every experience in the hues of destiny, purpose, peacefulness and joy.

My fondest hope for this young couple on the occasion of their wedding and for all the years to come, is that they may hold one anotherís hand and face this life together. Let their hearts be of a single purpose and their minds knit together always. From such unity, children will surely come who may be a blessing to their parents, even as Prince Melizwe was a blessing to his own mother and father. I hope I shall see the next generation born, as I have seen this one and the one before. I feel I am witnessing a proud legacy unfolding, and my heart is warmed to know that this is my own family. As family, I stand to congratulate Prince Melizwe and Princess Sithabile. As family, it is my privilege now to wish you everything of the best. May all your blessings grow from the unity of family.