King Accepts Disputed Crown

Zulu nation holds coronation, though some question succession
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 20, 2022 3:15 PM CDT
Zulu Nation Crowns King
A woman wears traditional headgear and necklace during King Misuzulu ka Zwelithini coronation Saturday.   (AP Photo)

The new king of South Africa's Zulu nation, Misuzulu kaZwelithini, was enthroned in a colorful ceremony Saturday before hundreds of supporters in a rural part of KwaZulu-Natal province. The king dismissed those challenging his right to the throne in his first public comments on the issue, the AP reports. He was crowned as the traditional leader of the Zulu nation—although some members of the royal family dispute his right to succeed his late father, King Goodwill Zwelithini—and called for unity. President Cyril Ramaphosa has recognized Misuzulu kaZwelithini as the rightful heir to the Zulu throne. Ramaphosa is scheduled to present him with an official certificate pronouncing him the king of the Zulu people at a ceremony later this year.

Some members of the family prefer an older brother, and a different group supports another brother. The late king had six wives and several sons. After the king died last year, Misuzulu kaZwelithini's mother served as regent for just a month before she died, but in her will she named her son the next king. This is regarded by many as the strongest claim to the Zulu throne. Misuzulu kaZwelithini addressed about 1,000 supporters after a traditional ritual known as ukungena esibayeni (entering the royal cattle enclosure) to mark the beginning of his reign as king. "I know that you are aware of the state of the royal family in recent times. I request that whatever you hear in the media, and the comments being made by those disputing the throne, you should hear them but you should not listen to them," said Misuzulu kaZwelithini.

The ceremony and celebrations were colorful displays of Zulu culture, with hundreds of people dressed in traditional regalia. Women wearing beads, skirts, and hats ululated and sang Zulu hymns and slogans as they awaited the arrival of the new king. Cheers rose as Misuzulu kaZwelithini entered the main enclosure at the palace where he was handed a sharp, gold-plated scepter and received congratulatory messages from elders of the Zulu nation. Hundreds of male Zulu warriors known as amabutho wielded traditional shields, spears, and sticks as they chanted and marched into the royal palace to pledge their allegiance to their new leader. Throughout the day, men slaughtered an estimated 50 cattle, while women cooked the meat and other foods and brewed traditional sorghum beer for the celebratory feast. The Zulu ethnic group is South Africa's largest, with more than 12 million people; the Zulu nation has control over about 10,810 square miles of land in KwaZulu-Natal province.

(More Zulu stories.)

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