Thousands Gather to Celebrate South Africa’s New Zulu King
The new king of South Africa’s ethnic Zulu nation, Misuzulu ka Zwelithini, dismissed those who challenged his right to the throne when he was crowned on Saturday.
- The newly installed king of the Zulu people has been crowned despite some royals contesting his right to succeed his late father
- Some members of the Zulu family prefer two of his brothers as successors to his father
- He addressed large crowds for the first time after undergoing a traditional ritual known as ukungena esibayeni to mark the start of his reign.
The newly installed king of the Zulu people, South Africa’s largest ethnic group, was crowned despite some members of the royal family contesting his right to succeed his late father, King Goodwill Zwelithini.
Some members of the Zulu family prefer two of his brothers as successors to his father.
He addressed large crowds for the first time after undergoing a traditional ritual known as ukungena esibayeni (entry into the kraal) to mark the start of his reign as king.
“I know you are aware of the state of the royal family lately,” ka Zwelithini said.
“I ask that whatever you hear in the media and comments from those who challenge the throne, you hear them but you shouldn’t listen to them.”
He called for unity within the Zulu nation and thanked South African President Cyril Ramaphosa for recognizing him as the rightful heir to the throne.
Mr Ramaphosa has awarded a certificate recognizing him as the new king, which he is due to present to him at an event later this year.
The ceremony was a colorful display of traditional Zulu culture with over a thousand people dressed in traditional Zulu regalia.
Women wearing traditional beads, skirts and hats danced and sang Zulu hymns and slogans as they awaited the arrival of the new king.
Hundreds of Zulu regiments known as amabutho brandished traditional shields, spears and staves as they chanted their way to the royal palace to pledge allegiance to their new leader.
Other men slaughtered cattle, estimated at over 50, while women cooked and brewed the traditional sorghum beer.
The coronation was also attended by traditional leaders from ethnic communities in other African countries, including Zambia and Malawi, whose origins can be traced back to the Zulu nation.
The Zulu ethnic group is the largest in South Africa with more than 12 million people who are mainly found in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
They are known for their fierce resistance to British colonialism under King Shaka Zulu in the early 1800s.
As leader of the 12 million strong Zulu nation which controls around 28,000 square kilometers of land in KwaZulu-Natal, he is arguably South Africa’s most influential traditional leader.