'Mother of all Zulu celebrations' set to kick off

READY: King Goodwill Zwelithini will launch Zulu 200 at King Shaka International Airport.
READY: King Goodwill Zwelithini will launch Zulu 200 at King Shaka International Airport.

THOUSANDS of Zulu amabutho (warriors) are expected to converge on King Shaka International Airport tomorrow when Zulu monarch King Goodwill Zwelithini launches Zulu 200.

This is a countdown programme towards the year 2016 when the Zulu nation will be celebrating 200 years since its formation by King Shaka.

King Shaka formed the Zulu nation in 1816. The Zulus are one of the original peoples of South Africa.

They were Bantu-speaking, but adopted some of the Khoisan click sounds in their language. At the end of the 1700s the name "Zulu" belonged to a small clan of a few hundred people.

In 1816 King Senzangakhona, the chief of the Zulu clan, died, leaving Shaka descendant to the throne.

King Shaka wanted to unite various clans and make them into a large nation under his leadership.

To do so, he set up a programme training new warriors in new war tactics and giving them a sense of discipline and a desire to be part of a wider nation rather than a clan.

Coincidentally, tomorrow's launch, which will see amabutho in full traditional regalia invoking the spirit of King Shaka through amahubo (hymns) and traditional dance routines, takes place two days before Ukhozi FM DJ Ngizwenkosi Mchunu returns to Equality Court.

Mchunu launched a R10-million discrimination and defamation lawsuit against the airport, agriculture department, and the SA Revenue Service's customs and excise department aftersecurity personnel allegedly threatened to destroy his traditional shield (ihawu) because it was "infested with foot-and-mouth disease".

One of the organisers and cultural activist Mandla kaNozulu said this "mother of all Zulu celebrations" was the commemoration of the second centenary of this "great nation".

The celebrations will run over the next five years.

He said when King Shaka kaSenzangakhona ascended the throne of the Zulu clan in 1816, the Zulu was the smaller of the clans that lived on the eastern coast of South Africa.

"He (King Shaka) launched a programme that aimed at amalgamating the Nguni clans into a nation.

King Shaka formed a nation that became one of the most admired kingdoms of the world," he said.

The Airports Company of SA was approached and agreed to host the launching event at the airport.

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