KING SHAKA MEMORIAL CELEBRATION
KWADUKUZA : SEPTEMBER 22, 2001
His Majesty the King of the Zulu Nation; His Majesty Ikumkani of the Pondo Nation; the Honourable Master of Ceremonies; members of the Royal House and amaKhosi present; Your Excellencies, members of the diplomatic corps; our religious leaders; the Honourable Premier of KwaZulu Natal, Mr LPHM Mtshali and Mrs Mtshali; Honourable Ministers from both the National Assembly and the KwaZulu Natal Legislature; members of Parliament; members of provincial Parliaments; Chairpersons of Regional Districts; their Worships the Mayors; Councillors and Indunas; members of the various clans who comprise the Zulu Nation; our distinguished guests.
It is my honour as we come together, summoned to KwaDukuza, the capital of the founder and father of the Zulu Nation, to present His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu. Today, as in generations past, we are united by a great son of Africa, King Shaka ka Senzangakhona, as we celebrate his memory and his legacy, the mighty Zulu Nation. We have been summoned to recall and honour the vision of King Shaka upon which this Nation was established, tracing down the lines of history the path we have taken to emerge in our present position. As I stand on this soil, looking out over the ambience of this place, I feel the depth of emotion which fuelled King Shaka’s courage. I can almost sense the elusive mystery that transformed a rejected young boy into the King of a Nation. He changed the course of his life and, in so doing, altered the course of our Nation’s history. When I think of King Shaka's early life, there always rings in my ears that biblical verse in Psalm 118 verses 22 and 23:
I am touched by that part of the King's early life because it was one of my paternal ancestors, Nqengelele ka Mvulane and Mudli ka Ndaba, who, when they looked at the young Prince's tribulations, decided to whisk him away from KwaNobamba Royal residence and placed him under the Inkosi of the Mthethwa's, Inkosi Dingiswayo, where he grew up.
Now, as we fulfil our rightful role in a liberated and fully democratic South Africa, we are realising the dream of a King who welcomed the uniting of diverse cultures and peoples into a stronger whole. South Africa is stronger for her diversity, and stronger still for the contribution of a Nation which has lost none of its original fire. The Zulu Nation is alight with patriotism. As our forefathers before us, we are ready even to die for a vision that is not yet completely fulfilled. King Shaka brought foreign cultures in, not to subdue their differences and create uniformity, but to learn from them and generate unity. Unity is not the result of cultural submission or cultural suppression. It is the consequence of respect, understanding and mutually beneficial exchange. The unity we seek to form in South Africa will constantly elude us for as long as the agenda is to change established cultures, erode known ways of life, and take apart the structures we have existed in for generations and generations past. I am sure that if there are things that my people are prepared to die in defence of, one's culture and what God created one to be, is one of them. I do not mean what the apartheid regime tried to do, to make "Zulus" out of Zulus for the criminal purposes of propping up man's inhumanity to man.
Regardless of what is said of King Shaka ka Senzangakhona by those who wish to diminish the nobility of this Nation’s birth, his visionary political leadership, unmatched military skill and exceptional capacity for social construction, have never been argued. They are beyond question. King Shaka revolutionised tactics of warfare, creating an almost unstoppable military force. When the British Imperial army took on the Zulu Nation in 1879 during the reign of King Cetshwayo, his nephew, they found themselves having to deploy a greater number of soldiers and resources than was required even to conquer India. The genius behind such legendary African warriors was honed and moulded under the mentorship of Ngomane, the Commander-in-Chief of Inkosi Dingiswayo of the Mthethwa Clan. Following the death of King Senzangakhona, Inkosi Dingiswayo supported and assisted Prince Shaka in his claim to the throne of his father in 1816. At the age of 29, Prince Shaka assumed the position which would write his name forever in the history of the Zulu Nation. Taking the throne under great opposition, his remarkable talents were immediately engaged.
Within three years, King Shaka had silenced the voices of dissent, and many who had argued his right now stood in awe of his ability. Through skilful diplomacy, military might and tight political control, King Shaka aimed to extend his Kingdom over the greater portion of this region, and later to an area extending beyond the borders of KwaZulu Natal as we know it today. Unlike the bloody battles waged between many African clans, the Zulu warriors followed King Shaka’s order that those willing to submit to his kingship be assimilated rather than destroyed. In this way the King grew our Nation and extended the hand of his power. Those submitting to King Shaka gained protection against raids, creating a Zulu dominated political and military alliance. Indeed, within three years, King Shaka ruled over a larger territory and a greater population than any other single ruler in Southern Africa before him.
We as the Zulu Nation stand as a monument to King Shaka. His raised short spear ensured our security, but his insight into societal organisation ensured our survival. He was aggressive, decisive and skilful in fighting ruthless rivals and bitter enemies of our Nation. He employed exceptional organisational skills, restructuring much of our traditional society to ensure its strengthening. His vision took him beyond the paradigm of destructive warfare, to embrace a concept of inclusiveness which secured the growth of our Nation during his reign, and the unity of our Nation for generations to come.
The unity of the Zulu Nation is indeed its strength. We are a proud people, proud because our heritage comes to us down a line of Kings and amaKhosi who have exceeded the stature of ordinary men. To us the King whom we are gathered here to honour, was the father of Ubuntu, as we understand it.
We who are gathered at the heart of King Shaka’s Kingdom are not removed from the great men and women who have gone before. We are not separate from the mighty
Zulu Nation written of by historians of African culture. We are the present thread of a tapestry in the making. As we look behind us, we see a pattern unfolding of strength, unity and pride. As we look ahead, we see the enormous space still left for our children and our children’s children to fulfil, before our history will be complete. Standing at this point, we may consider how the pattern might change or how we would wish to see it develop in the years to come. There is a deep awareness among us that we stand at a crucial juncture in the history of our Nation, knowing that there is a force which seeks to erode our strength by denying a way of life we have lived by from even before the time of my great-great grand uncle, King Shaka ka Senzangakhona.
As Zulus, respect for the institution of our King and our Ubukhosi is written into our very being. Our King is the expression of our identity and our amaKhosi remain the backbone of our Kingdom. Our amaKhosi are the custodians of our heritage, watching over the treasury of our customs, traditions, culture, history and way of life. They express our collective consensus and generate the unity we seek above all else. They have led our people with commitment and worked to bring development and progress for many generations. Development is not a new notion for the Zulu people. We are a dynamic Nation, constantly moving forward and seeking to raise the standard of life for all our people. King Shaka was an innovator and a visionary. His energy has ignited within our Nation a passion to evolve and progress which no amount of opposition may douse. It is essential that we continue to innovate, progress, evolve and develop. But we do so from the foundation of who we are, not stepping away from our identity, but building upon it a fortified structure that will stand.
It is King Shaka who makes us proud of our Zulu-ness, for it was he, Shaka Zulu, who moulded us into a Nation, which he named amaZulu after his own clan name of Zulu. Proclaiming our pride in who we are, does not mean that we diminish in any way any other nation or cultural group in our diverse nation of South Africa. We do not apologise to anyone for being who we are, nor do we expect any other nation or cultural group to apologise to us for being who they are. Together as diverse cultural and language groups, we are the very substance of our pride as South Africans.
Our culture is our own and cannot be ruled out of existence. It is with a heavy heart that I hear myself sounding this warning again, but this perhaps is the perfect podium from which to say it. The Zulu Nation will not be broken. We will not see our culture chipped away or our traditions dissolving. We are facing a crisis. Our amaKhosi have spoken to government and we have spoken to the President. Everyone has agreed that a problem exists. Everyone has admitted it. There is a clash of local government powers and functions between established municipalities and recognised traditional leaders across South Africa.
President Thabo Mbeki promised to find a solution to this crisis which threatens to disrupt our way of life and place immoveable obstacles on the path to development. He promised a solution before the last municipal elections, nearly ten months ago. That word changed to say that a solution would be found before municipalities could be established.
Now we have municipalities and amaKhosi. We have a clash of powers. Are we going to have all our gains as a liberated and democratic South Africa wiped off merely because promises are made and broken without any compunction? We cannot believe what we see unfolding before our eyes. We ask the question: could this be a re-play of what we saw in 1994, when things were promised to us so that we could participate in the election on the 27th of April 1994, only for the solemn Agreement that we signed with President Mandela in his capacity as President of the ANC, and President de Klerk as our then Head of State, to be dishonoured after elections had been held with our co-operation and participation? I am still hoping that this is not the case, but every day that passes without the problem of this clash of functions and the role of amaKhosi and those of municipalities being resolved, eliminates any conviction that there is any intention to resolve the problem.
With grave concerns, our amaKhosi even approached government with a solution which could have been easily and timeously implemented, but received no response. Why this hesitance to resolve a crisis? Why is our King and his amaKhosi being ignored? It is a dangerous game, because we do not stand as individual men and women with our own motives and our own interests at heart. We stand as the representatives of thousands upon thousands of people who have given us a mandate to serve their interests. We stand on the foundation of generations of amaKhosi who have built this Kingdom and maintained the lifeblood of a people. Our ancestors fought and died for King and country. King Shaka may have found opposition, but he could not be ignored. King Cetshwayo may have been imprisoned and exiled, but he could not be ignored. King Dinuzulu may have been exiled, but he could not be ignored. The Zulu people will not ignored. We have an identity and a culture that lives. The assumption that if our amaKhosi are ignored they will fade away, is as dangerous as it is wrong.
As Zulus, we support our King and his amaKhosi and take our direction from their leadership. Government cannot simply take away our established structures and impose new ones. To whom do we now give allegiance, to our amaKhosi or to municipal councillors? I urge our people to respect a way of life we have always known and to maintain our identity. I have urged amaKhosi to continue serving our people and fulfilling the role which is expected of us by our people. For the sake of development, it is my hope that councillors will seek the vast experience and wisdom of our amaKhosi. They are a direct line to the people and know best how to listen and speak with the voice of our people. But this remains an untenable situation and I am speaking almost in terms of war-time efforts before the war is won. We will only win this victory when government finally speaks.
The Zulu Nation knows what it is to have victory. We have tasted the foul bitterness of defeat, and it has strengthened our resolve. We have taken hold of the prize of victory and it has given birth to a solid, unshakable, immovable belief in the power of our people. The battles fought by our ancestors with spears are translated in the modern world into battles against social evils and economic distress. Our fight must be equally brave and undaunted. We must wield our weapons with equal skill. In the third millennium, our greatest weapon is the social solidarity built through the efforts of our ancestors and maintained by the institution of our King and Ubukhosi. I am saddened when I see men and women of this Nation acting with purely selfish motives, distinguishing their own good from the good of those around them. It mocks the ideal of ubuntu and damages the future of our people.
Much damage is being done by irresponsible actions and selfish interests that fuel the spread of HIV/AIDS. I am concerned that we have departed too far from a tradition which ensured the strength of our Nation for many years. King Shaka espoused the tradition of our people that sexual intimacy should be limited before marriage. Traditionally, a young woman would only be deflowered once she had become a wife. It was not a privilege generously extended to any man, but the honour of a husband. This ensured that children were born into a family environment where they could be nurtured and established in the culture and history of our people. It remains true today that children without roots firmly established in the soil of a family, struggle to accept the identity of their own people.
Obviously the world has radically and profoundly changed since the time of King Shaka. Social dynamics demand that women and men marry at a much later age. Contraception and a better understanding of sexuality may have changed ancient perceptions and ways of life. However, even though the conditions have changed, the sense of morality which once supported our traditions should continue and remain the same. That sense of morality expresses itself differently under different conditions and yet it continues to presuppose the common and continuing dedication to living a moral life. It is not a matter of returning to a traditional way of life, but to creating a modern moral way of life which inherits our traditional morality, and in which boundaries are placed on sexual intimacy outside marriage. Young people could do some petting, even deep petting such as the custom of ukuhlobonga which was external sexual stimulation. It was, however, a cardinal offence to deflower a man's daughter before marriage. This was so even if she did not become pregnant. The mere breaking of her hymen was described as entering her father's cattle byre not through the gate, but by breaking into it.
Indeed, we must adopt any means to strengthen our people in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We all know how HIV is spread. Surely we can fathom the best weapon of our warfare. We must return to our tradition of respect and self-discipline. Without discipline, the vision of King Shaka for this Nation would never have materialised. But let me speak the whole truth; without discipline, this Nation may again ebb away, making the vision of a King no more than a fleeting dream. HIV/AIDS is able to take this Nation. It is a worthy foe. I pray we shall find ourselves equal to beating it.
This is but another battle this Nation can win if we are prepared to go in fighting, backed by careful forethought and a vision of what we wish to achieve. It is the legacy of King Shaka ka Senzangakhona that urges the Zulu Nation to be tactical warriors in waging the battles we enter. Our tactic in fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic must be a collective adoption of individual responsibility. Our tactic for the battle waged against our amaKhosi, must be the collective refusal to allow our own traditions to be erased.
Our battle for development, our war against poverty, ignorance for lack of education, experience and exposure, the rising tide of criminality and sub-cultures, a lack of vision, integrity and courage within our country’s leadership, and a pervasive apathy, will be waged with the strength we draw from our history.
The lives of our Kings and amaKhosi, and their towering stature among men, bestows on us the strength to weave our present day thread into the ongoing tapestry of a mighty Nation’s history. The way ahead may be fraught with difficulty. But a giant among men has never been born while times are easy. History calls forth great leaders to meet a need. Within this present South Africa, we are awash in a sea of need. I am proud to know that from within my own Nation, from among the Zulu people, these times will give birth to leaders of whom our future generations will sing.
I count it an honour to live during this time of metamorphosis that our country is going through at present. It is a time of great pain and challenge for us as a Nation. I count it as an honour to have lived under the reign of my late first cousin, King Bhekuzulu Nyangayezizwe ka Solomon ka Dinuzulu, both as a member of the Zulu Royal House and as his subject. I was saddened by his premature death at the tender age of 48 years. It was a matter of great pride for me to help his heir and successor, our present King, after his father's death, when certain family members were trying not only to block his accession to his father's throne, but even to assassinate him.
I am very proud to have lived under the reign of our present King. All of you here are witness to the fact that I have served my King with dedication and loyalty. You do not need to be reminded of the things I did and continue to do for the institution of the Monarchy, and also the things I have done for my King. None of you can doubt my loyalty to my King. Even when I sleep at the end of my life, I will die with a clear conscience that I fought for my King and the Zulu Kingdom; that I fought for Ubukhosi as an institution not only in the Kingdom of KwaZulu, but in the whole of the Republic of South Africa. I am proud to present His Majesty the King to his Nation, not only as his subject, but also as his uncle and fellow scion of the great Zulu Royal House of King Mpande ka Senzangakhona, our common ascendant.
I thank God to have lived to serve under two Zulu Kings. My great-grandfather, Mnyamana Buthelezi, served under four Kings. He served under King Dingane as he belonged to his Umkhulutshana Regiment. He served under King Mpande who declared him "the father of his children." He served under King Cetshwayo as his Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief of all his forces in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. He protected and brought up Prince Dinuzulu at his Ekushumayeleni Royal Residence. He served under King Dinuzulu as Prime Minister of the Kingdom until 1888. I feel emotional as I perform this task today, as the Prime Minister of this great Nation, of presenting our King, the son of King Bhekuzulu ka Maphumzana ka Dinuzulu ka Cetshwayo ka Mpande ka Senzangakhona. With all humility, I pray your Majesty to rise and address your Nation. Long live the King.
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