King Shaka Day
Introduction Of His Majesty The King Of The Zulu Nation
By Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP, Inkosi Of The Buthelezi Clan
Chairperson: Zululand District Local House Of Traditional Leaders And Traditional Prime Minister Of The Zulu Nation

   

 

Pongolo : 26 September 2010

 

We gather today as traditional leaders to pay tribute to the founder of the Zulu nation, King Shaka kaSenzangakhona. Many of us attended the official commemoration yesterday which was organised by the Honourable Minister of Arts, and Culture and the Honourable Premier of the Province. Yet we have felt as the leaders of our people, that there is a moment to honour our heritage in public, and a moment to come together within our own family, so to speak, to recall the bonds that tie us together as the Zulu nation.

 

For this reason, amaKhosi have organised today's event, which is less a commemoration than it is a celebration of our identity, culture and past. These are the heritage that we received from our ancestors; those who went before us to forge the strength of our inheritance. All that we do as amaKhosi is underpinned by our responsibility to carry their work forward, so that we too may leave an inheritance for generations to come.

 

We have made a sacrifice to gather today, for we have organised this event from our own pockets. By doing so, we are expressing the extent to which we value our culture. The pursuit of the recognition of the Zulu Kingdom and the Zulu monarchy have engaged us as amaKhosi, just as it did our forefathers. We have not grown weary in fighting the relentless battle to have our traditional structures respected and accommodated. For we know that far more hangs in the balance than just our own positions.

 

Legislative reform that affects the institution of ubuKhosi has been ongoing since South Africa attained democracy. We realise that if legislation continually diminishes our powers and functions, we will be relegated to being relics of our own past, a mere empty symbol of a once proud tradition. It was for this reason that we sought the Solemn Agreement on International Mediation in 1994.

 

That Agreement enabled us to engage in the democratic transition with the good faith expectation that our nation would be able to claim a rightful stake in a liberated South Africa. As the ANC reneged on that Agreement and led our country's government into a process of legislative reform which, aside from its laudable aspects, sought to consolidate power, it became apparent that another chapter in the arduous struggle of the Zulu nation was opening.

 

King Shaka kaSenzangakhona unified the Zulu nation. Through a brilliant military strategy and unrelenting pressure, he welded many clans together. Defeated warriors were given the choice by the Zulu impis; pledge allegiance to King Shaka and join his army, or perish. 

It was a different time; a harsh period in history where power was predicated less on the complex nuances of diplomacy, and more on the immediacy of life or death decisions. It was this strategy that forged one of history's most powerful military forces; the Zulu army.

 

While we live in a changed world where human rights are given vastly greater precedence in all human dealings, there is still a remarkable parallel to be drawn between the choice of warriors defeated by King Shaka and the choice we face today as leaders in the Zulu nation. 

Either we must pledge allegiance to our heritage, or we will perish along with all the other structures and traditions of a culture that is being pushed onto the periphery of today's South Africa.

 

Our meeting here today is an expression of our allegiance. We have already made the choice to honour our nation's legacy and preserve the dignity of our monarchy, our kingdom and our traditional way of life. 

Let us not underestimate the power in our having done so.

 

For so long our people have been told that we are not good enough. The apartheid regime systematically stripped away our dignity by undermining the intrinsic worth of black people. Before that, we were at odds and even at war with the colonialists, who sought to civilise what they encountered as a barbaric people. Since democracy, we have had to fight for every inch of recognition, as though the institution of ubuKhosi is somehow inferior to the newly established system of governance.  You can see for yourselves that the protocol that is now being rammed down our throats makes amaKhosi and traditional structures very much some kind of an afterthought.  And yet there are many political giants we honour every day in our country.  But the real people, who fought real wars in this country, were led by our Kings and their amaKhosi and Indunas.  Even the people who fought fierce battles like the battle of Isandlwana are not spoken of.  These are people who faced the mightiest army in the world, the British army.  Members of the Royal Family and descendants of many of amaKhosi are the progeny of these great warriors who made us the famous Zulu people that we are even today.  If these real heroes who faced gunfire of the mighty British are hardly even talked about except in passing, in this way we diminish our own history and the valour of our Nation.  

 

When we speak about the unfinished business on the institution of the Monarchy and the structures, powers and functions of Traditional Leaders we are chided as bringing up the past.  This is very much the present.  It is not the past at all and sweeping it under the carpet will not make it to go away.

 

Such opposition and struggle can break a people's spirit. But I believe it has done just the opposite. It has stirred a righteous fire inside our nation that will not be doused. It has served to remind us of the strength that came with the unity King Shaka bestowed upon us. 

We know that during last year's general elections even staunch IFP supporters shifted their vote to the ANC because a murmur rippled across this Province that, at last, we would have a Zulu lead our country.

 

That is the extent to which we are passionate about re-empowering our nation. Time will tell whether we have made good or poor decisions over where to place our trust. But let us never forget that the decision remains ours. Let me throw down the gauntlet and ask you this: in years to come, will generations remember us as the fractured warriors who were unified by an extraordinary vision, just as we remember the defeated warriors grafted into King Shaka's nation? Or will we remain the defeated ones, the last repository of a culture that faded away over time?

 

There is nothing weak about the Zulu nation. We carry within us the strength of King Shaka kaSenzangakhona, and the courage of our kings and ancestors who fought to preserve King Shaka's legacy. We who stand here today are King Shaka's legacy. We are the ones who will take this struggle further.

 

It is this rich history of our past which has made us as Zulu people to be respected by other cultures that so much enrich our country.  We remember with pride that this year is the 150th anniversary of the arrival of indentured Indians in South Africa.  This is a long time and it is often forgotten that the Indian people arrived in these shores when the Zulu Kingdom was still intact.  Today we are here enriched by cultures of our fellow South Africans whether it is English, Dutch, Portuguese or Indian.  We embrace all these cultures and claim them to as belonging to us as well as South Africans.  It is not often highlighted that Prince Mbilini of Swaziland sought refuge in the Zulu Kingdom. He was accepted in the Kingdom and given the respect he deserved as a Prince of another Kingdom.  His descendants are today still in charge of the lands which the Zulu King allotted to Prince Mbilini.  As we know during the Anglo-Zulu war his name featured in the ultimatum that the British sent to our King.

 

As we remember our founder and king, let us welcome our monarch, His Majesty the King of the Zulu nation, and let us hear the message he brings us today.