Picture: for illustration purposes

King Misuzulu to Miss Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi's State Funeral, Upholding Centuries-Old Zulu Royal Tradition

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

In a further demonstration of long-held Nguni cultural practices, King Misuzulu KaZwelithini has confirmed he will not be attending the heavily anticipated state funeral of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi on Friday. Despite their long association and the instrumental role Buthelezi played in establishing King Misuzulu's rule following the death of his father, the Zulu King, adhering to cultural tradition, will not bid the final farewell to the prince.

The tradition—which disallows Zulu monarchs and those from the Swati, Ndebele and Xhosa nations from attending funerals—has meant King Misuzulu has not attended a funeral since he ascended the throne in March 2021. Even the burials of his father, King Goodwill Zwelithini, and his mother, Queen Mantfombi Dlamini-Zulu, were exceptional occasions the King missed due to these practices.

Zulu folklore holds that death, bereavement, and places they inhabit, bring misfortune. In line with this belief, Zulu monarchs avoid contact with those who have attended funerals—they must undergo a cleansing period before meeting the king. The reign of King Misuzulu has adhered strictly to this custom. A fact evident as he refrains from staying at KwaKhangelamankengane Palace owing to the presence of his mother's grave within the palace grounds.

Despite his nonattendance at the funeral, King Misuzulu will send a delegation in his stead. Guided by the same entrenched traditions, Nguni royal protocol mandates this delegation maintained a week-long separation before briefing the king on the funeral proceedings.

The funeral of Prince Buthelezi, a high-profile affair attended by elite mourners, reflects his significant service to the Zulu royal family. Buthelezi's service stretches back to 1955 when he was positioned by King Bhekuzulu as the traditional prime minister—an office he held throughout the reign of King Goodwill Zwelithini.

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