MAMBUKA SPORTSGROUND: September 30, 2000

His Majesty the King of the Zulu Nation, King Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu; the Honourable Masters of Ceremonies, Prof M.N. Khubisa and Mr M.B. Gwala; members of the Royal House and amaKhosi present; Your Excellencies, members of the diplomatic corps and honourable members of the consular corps; our religious leaders; the Honourable Premier of KwaZulu Natal, Mr L.P.H.M. 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 Councils; their Worships the Mayors; Councillors and Indunas; members of the various clans who comprise the Zulu Nation; our distinguished guests.

The occasion of King Shaka Day and the celebrations which follow throughout the province of KwaZulu Natal give the Zulu Nation the opportunity to consider the legacy of our founding King, King Shaka ka Senzangakhona. On this occasion we recognise that there are many lessons woven into the past’s rich matrix which can guide us in sustaining present pressures and confronting future challenges. Today, our Nation is confronted with the challenge of standing up on its own feet, confronting the social and economic problems before it. We need to rediscover the same culture of self-help and self-reliance which first forged our Zulu Kingdom.

Our Nation is also confronted with a seeming lack of direction and by continuing internal strife. This situation is not new to our history and it took place before our Nation was forged into a single entity by our founder, King Shaka. Similar problems were experienced after King Shaka. For this reason, we must strengthen our enduring struggle towards the unity of the Zulu Nation by resorting to the legacy of leadership and single-minded pursuit of a vision which inspired the Kingdom of King Shaka ka Senzangakhona. He achieved unity on the strength of his leadership by marching ahead of the Nation, and through the strength of his leadership he forged our unity in such a solid cast that its legacy has survived to this day.

A further lesson which clearly emerges from the legacy of the past is that the independence, self-help and self-reliance of our Kingdom are under the strong unity-producing leadership of King Shaka, created in an environment conducive to unprecedented development and stability. Today’s greatest challenge is that of development, development and development, and we must look at creating similar conditions of firm leadership, unity and self-help and self-reliance within our Nation which may be conducive to promoting development, even under radically changed circumstances as compared to those of King Shaka’s time. This year, we look back into our historical heritage with a spirit of people seeking in our past well-known and versatile truths which we possess and which we can utilise to build a future of prosperity and stability which can no longer be delayed. It is an honour for me to look back into this past because its glory projects itself into the dream of a better future.

It is an honour for me to think that as we dream of a better future the memory of our ancestors dreams with us and the soil which once received the blood shed in the ultimate sacrifice of defending our Kingdom’s sovereignty, still emanates memories of pride and glory which can support us in our present day challenges. Our province is the product of many traditions and I take pride that the Zulu Kingdom bequeathed on all of us the memory of a people who laboured to achieve good administration, social justice and the victory of a mighty Nation over the difficulties and challenges of its times.

King Shaka achieved an independent Kingdom which could provide for the needs, wants and aspirations of his people. He provided the greatest level of development and good administration available to the people of our region at that time. He set the foundation on which the future development of our people could take place. That foundation was cracked when our Kingdom was defeated by colonial power and greed, even though never subjugated. My maternal great-grandfather, King Cetshwayo, fought to maintain our independence, but his defeat did not lose to our Kingdom the ever-burning flame of our desire to succeed as a Nation and to pursue the dream of our full development through unity, good leadership and sound governance.

Today, the soul of our Nation must rise once again to express our spirit of self-help and self-reliance in the strength that we have, to work together in unity and under a common leadership to overcome the greatest challenge of all times, which is the challenge of development. The challenges of development seem over-powering and yet they are no greater than those we faced in the past. I am proud that the British Empire trembled when they saw my great-grandfather’s mighty army, so that they had to employ a larger number of soldiers to conquer our Kingdom at the Battle of Ulundi on July 4, 1879 than they did to conquer the entire Imperial India. My paternal great-grandfather, Mnyamana Buthelezi, the traditional Prime Minister of the Kingdom, fought as Commander-in-Chief against a foreign power, even though many of their people had until shortly before, been welcome guests in our Kingdom.

In accordance with the original vision of our founding King Shaka, we recognised that the strength of our Kingdom consisted in its capacity to be inclusive rather than exclusive. We continuously brought into our Nation new elements, knowing well that any addition would increase us and make us richer. We applied the same logic to the initial European settlers and missionaries who brought great progress to our Kingdom. However, often unwittingly and unbeknown to them, they became the pawns of a much greater colonial game being played in the European capitals at our expense.

King Shaka was the first King to reign over an independent sovereign Zulu Kingdom, and King Cetshwayo, sadly, was the last. Yet our Nation remains undefeated. We have not been destroyed. After three generations, I proudly take this podium to present His Majesty our King to a Nation which has never lost its fervour, its spirit or its might. Today, we must commit ourselves to employing the same spirit to achieve our unity in the struggle for development.

King Shaka ka Senzangakhona forged an independent and self-sufficient Kingdom to give our people the means and capacity to seek our prosperity and destiny. His vision of an independent Zulu Nation encompassed a future of good administration and sound governance, in which the social structures of family, community and Nation assumed the task of meting out social justice. I believe that King Shaka understood that governments are established and power is wielded in order to maintain order, justice and security. Through his leadership, King Shaka wielded a unique amount of power which succeeded in creating order where chaos used to reign, and unity where there was division.

Internal unity and stability was the basis for progress then as it should be now, and there were limits to what government could do then, as there are now. In the time of King Shaka, people were encouraged to produce, so that the Kingdom could prosper. King Shaka could raise his powerful spear to impose law and order, but could not use it to butter the bread feeding his people. Even at this time it was the responsibility of the people to produce and butter their own bread. We must learn that lesson so as to spread a greater sense of self-help and self-reliance within our Nation. We need greater social solidarity to encourage people to help one another and to work together to build a better future without greed, internal strife and competition. King Shaka knew that co-operative efforts add value to the mere sum of their individual parts.

To fulfil this vision, our founding King understood the need for a foundation of national unity, constructing a closely woven society through the interdependence of purpose of each individual thread. The Zulu Nation achieved its unity through the contribution of every member to the good administration of our Nation. Man, woman and child had an intimate role to play through the production of food, the protection of our people and our wealth, and the nurturing in our children of the patriotic spirit that gives life to the Zulu Nation. The fight for independence from need or fear was the fight to be able to govern ourselves. The fight for social solidarity and the unity of our Nation remains the fight to govern ourselves well. Both of these battles are ongoing and our passion to win them cannot be allowed to run cold.

The treasured pride of the Zulu Nation will forever remain the mighty army of King Shaka. His warriors were exceptionally well-trained, immaculately disciplined, and extraordinarily courageous. His was a powerful and large army, capable of protecting the Kingdom against intrusion, invaders and enemy clans, securing the stability of the Kingdom. A mighty nation could only grow on the fertile soil of unity and security. King Shaka recognised the importance of neutralising any threat to the Kingdom, yet in conquering rival nations he extended the genius of leadership which shall forever mark him as our greatest King. Rather than wanton destruction of his enemies, King Shaka offered to them the possibility of integrating into our Nation. So the might and number of the Zulu Nation grew like a bushfire, driven forward by the wind of ambition.

Today, we need to struggle for the same things for which the Zulu Nation has fought since King Shaka, and we need to fight with the same spirit of victory of King Shaka’s mighty army. Our struggle, however, is no longer against invading outside clans, but against internal social injustices and social evils that threaten to break down our communities and dissolve the strength and unity of our Zulu Nation. Destructive social forces such as crime, indolence, and the increasing identification of our youth with alienating sub-cultures of violence and drugs, threaten to unravel our social fibre from within. If we fail to fight for social stability and regain our unity, we are not likely to win the battle of governing ourselves according to the successful blue-print of King Shaka’s Kingdom.

The struggle for social justice, for the unity of our Kingdom and for the prosperity of the Zulu Nation will not be won today, or tomorrow. Yet with each day we are walking one step closer to the victory which our posterity shall one day enjoy. The immediate threat is that this journey may be interrupted by the creation of a new system of leadership in the lives of our people, while our known and respected amaKhosi will be stripped of their authority overnight. Leadership is essential to the success of our struggle for development.

Our amaKhosi are the backbone of our Kingdom and remain the most important part of our Kingdom’s united leadership. In their collegiality, amaKhosi can unite our Kingdom under an all-encompassing leadership which can move us forward. The undermining of our amaKhosi is the undermining of the legacy of King Shaka. The replacement of our amaKhosi with a leadership which does not emanate from within the structure of our Kingdom, will do greater harm to our final chances of success in the dream of development than the Battle of Ulundi did in 1879. AmaKhosi are the engine of our development and must be provided with greater resources and administrative capacity to drive social and economic progress in rural areas.

We must not allow our amaKhosi to be replaced against the will of the people. We have fought against the foisting of an external leadership over our people before, and we must do so again with a new fervour. Our traditional way of life is under threat of being legislated out of existence as though we just do not matter in the grand scheme of South Africa’s progress. Today we must make it very clear that without the Zulu Nation, there will be no progress in South Africa. We believe in the absolute imperative of progress and development, but we also believe that in this province this goal can be achieved by strengthening rather than weakening our Kingdom, for our Kingdom carries within itself the legacy of progress and development.

The history of our country is no longer read along the narrow academic line of colonialism, apartheid and democracy, as though nothing came before or in between. Such a reading suggests that nothing will come after, that we have reached the best possible future for our country and our people. Those South Africans who have no homes, who cry out for something to eat and dream of being gainfully employed, know that this is not true. We have yet to achieve something better, but to reach this point we must take cognisance of the powerful role played on the stage of our collective history by individual groups of people. Among these, the Zulu Nation stands proud and towering.

The Kingdom of King Shaka began the struggle for development, and we must take up this struggle today if we are to achieve the upliftment of South Africa’s people and our empowerment to govern our lives. In seeking the independence of the Kingdom, King Shaka, King Cetshwayo and King Dinuzulu sought the opportunity to develop the potential of our Nation. In seeking unity, our Kings and amaKhosi have sought the development of our collective psyche and soul to a point where we may work together for social justice, human upliftment and the real liberation of all. In seeking security, King Shaka ka Senzangakhona taught us how to fight with courage and single-mindedness to achieve the victory of a stable Kingdom in which development could finally take root.

The quest of yesterday remains our noble journey into the future. Let us not allow that path to become choked with weeds and covered over by brambles. Let us not allow the fire in our hearts to cool to dim embers. As we celebrate the legacy of the mighty King Shaka, the challenge emerges within our collective spirit to press forward in the pride of our ancestors and the glory of what we still may achieve. I say again, the Zulu Nation is undefeated. We are a noble people with a birthright of victory. Our nation shall be honoured in unity, stability and strength. May this truth rise on the future of our Kingdom and announce the new dawn of Zulu pride.

We are now ready to hear the message for the day from none other than our King, who today sits on King Shaka's throne.


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