INKOSI Zwelivelile Mandla Mandela of the abaThembu clan in Eastern Cape yesterday lashed out at traditional leaders for not defending President Jacob Zuma against the attack from naïve foreign media, especially the British.
Speaking in Umlazi's Church of the Holy Ghost in Durban as it concluded its week-long annual conference, Mandela lambasted senior leaders of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa as well as the National House of Traditional Leaders for not defending Zuma and African traditions.
About 1600 people attended the conference.
He said the attack on Zuma was not only aimed at him but against all Africans who still preserve their traditions and cultures.
"We must not view this as an attack limited to this individual but aimed at all the people who believe in their traditions.
"Amakhosi, as custodians of tradition and culture, should be the first to defend us against what Western people are doing. They are hellbent on portraying black people's traditions as inferior to theirs," Mandela said.
"Why do we have to let Western norms reign supreme over ours?" Mandela asked.
He said Zuma was being attacked for polygamy and paying damages (inhlawulo) after having a baby out of wedlock.
"By paying, Zuma was merely admitting that something wrong had happened. People must learn to deal with the problem and not the system," he said.
He said he felt proud when black people stood up in support of King Goodwill Zwelithini when he was challenged by Animal Rights for Africa over bull killing. He said there had also been a hullabaloo when Zwelithini married Queen Zola kaMafu.
"They were saying she is only 17, while the king was 58. To them this was something unheard of, but to us Africans a female becomes a woman when she reaches menstruation."
Archbishop Phelelani Givinson Nzuza said they had invited Mandela to explain the role of traditional leaders .
"As church we believe in teaching and Mandela has done just that. We now know a traditional leader has to develop his subjects too," Nzuza said.