The Zulu people of South Africa now have a new king, Misuzulu Siqonbile ka Zwelithini who was crowned king in a traditional ceremony last Saturday. The coronation comes after 50 years of his father’s reign, King Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu, and a year-long family feud to determine the rightful heir. For many Zulu people, it is a rare event, the first in 51 years, and totally worthy of celebrations as it welcomes the dawn of a new king of the Zulu Kingdom.
The new king, Misuzulu ka Zwelithini, is 48 years old, and although he is the son of the previous king, some royals had argued he was not the rightful heir and that the late king’s will was in fact forged. Many believed that the feud stemmed from the fact that King Misuzulu’s mother was the late Queen Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu of royal blood given that her father was the late King Sobhuza II of Swaziland and her brother is King Mswati III of Eswatini; her marriage to the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini came with the condition that her first-born son would be first in line for the throne in the event of his father’s death. However, for some Zulus, even though Queen Mantfombi Dlamini held the highest status among the king’s wives as a royal descendant, she was still considered an ‘outsider’ or ‘foreigner’, not a Zulu. In her husband’s will, she had been named as Queen regent – caretaker until a successor was found; however she also passed one month after becoming regent, and left a will in which her son Misuzulu ka Zwelithini was named successor. Since then, there have been a lot of contests in the family.
None of that could dampen the joyous spirit of the thousands that descended upon the KwaKhangelamankengane Palace on Saturday for the traditional coronation of the new Zulu monarch. It was a beautiful celebration. The new king will be officially installed at a public coronation on 24 September – a public holiday in South Africa previously known as Shaka‘s Day – a time when thousands of Zulus would visit his grave to honor him for uniting the Zulu nation.
Please check out images of the celebration on the BBC.