Province denies schism with king

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Premier Sbu Ndebele and the KwaZulu-Natal government say the relationship between Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini and Ndebele is at its "warmest best" it has ever been.

Ndebele's department was reacting to a report yesterday on the king lashing out at the KwaZulu-Natal government for what he said was a distortion of historical events.

Zwelithini dismissed assertions that King Cetshwayo had ordered the killing of the revolting Ingcuce regiment of women in 1876, as Ndebele had stated at a recent commemoration of the regiment.

But the cabinet's heritage adviser, Musa Xulu, yesterday defended Ndebele and the cabinet's decision, saying they had not distorted history.

Xulu said his office had researched the history of Izintombi zeNgcuce and had found them worthy of recognition because of their relevance to the struggle for liberation.

He said his department had relied on historical records from early scholars, anthropologists and missionaries who had recorded events as they unfolded. They also relied on verifiable oral history.

"It was on the basis of this knowledge that we can state without fear of contradiction that in 1876 Izintombi zeNgcuce were killed for defying an order to marry a regiment made up of men who were much older than them."

The women had chosen for themselves another regiment of men whose ages matched theirs.

"By so doing Izintombi zeNgcuce were able to create within Zulu society a new tradition which would see each person choosing whoever they wanted to fall in love with and marry.

"This tradition of maidens choosing their own lovers in Zulu society is practised up to this day, a feature of ... modernity brought about by the actions of Izintombi zeNgcuce," said Xulu.

He said after careful evaluation Ndebele and his cabinet had decided that the demand of the women of Izintombi zeNgcuce to choose their own husbands fitted well with commonly held interpretations of liberation.