How do I say farewell to the love of my life? - Mangosuthu Buthelezi at Irene's funeral
IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi broke down before he paid a moving tribute to his wife Princess Irene Audrey Thandekile Buthelezi at her funeral service in Ulundi on Friday.
The 90-year-old veteran politician became emotional as he started his speech at the funeral service‚ which was attended by President Cyril Ramaphosa and other dignitaries.
"How do I say farewell to the love of my life? No man could have asked for a better wife than Indlunkulu Irene Audrey Thandekile.
"How then do I say farewell?
"The only way I can‚ believing not only that this is our last goodbye‚ but that there will be another hello‚ spoken on the presence of our Lord. That day will surely heal the wound that has felled me now‚" he said.
Buthelezi described his wife as the epitome of a homemaker‚ "always in the kitchen‚ dishing out biscuits and advice in equal measure‚ listening intently with her beloved Tootsie [her dog] on her lap".
He also had mourners in stitches when he told how he became jealous when Tootsie sat on his wife's lap and how he became angry when she told him she didn't like some of his friends.
"But I quickly learnt to listen to her instincts because she was always proven right.
"To say that Irene was my anchor is not enough. Where is home now that she is gone? I will listen to our favourite music‚ and close my eyes‚ and imagine that she is still there. Her smile will be in the music."
Buthelezi's son‚ Prince Zuzifa Buthelezi‚ spoke about the pain the family had gone through after losing members of the family.
"Grief is never invited. It shows up in the most unexpected times and leaves us in a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions."
"As this family we have walked the road of grief. Our parents have gone through what no parent wants to experience. The loss of not just one child."
He was referring to the deaths in 2014 of his siblings Prince Nelisuzulu and Princess Mandisi who both died of Aids‚ as well as Prince Phumaphesheya who died in 2012.
Buthelezi is now left with three children and grandchildren.
Delivering his message of condolences on behalf of government‚ Ramaphosa said the fact that Irene had been ill for some time did not lessen the grief the Buthelezi family were going through.
He said he had the privilege of knowing her over the years.
"We share in your sorrow for it is you who will feel the loss more keenly‚" said Ramaphosa.
He said Irene was the epitome of elegance and beauty.