WATCH | The making of a king: Misuzulu kaZwelithini crowned in a festival of Zulu song and dance

The last such ceremony was held in 1971 when his father, King Goodwill Zwelithini, was crown as the Zulu monarch.

Emile Bosch Multimedia journalist

The rolling hills of Nongoma come alive as thousands of colourfully-clad Zulu maidens and spear and shield-bearing amabutho (traditional Zulu warriors) descended on the Kwakhamgelamankengane royal palace.

Though from different backgrounds, they all wore smiles as they celebrated the ascension of amaZulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini Zulu as he performed ukungena esibayeni (the entering of the kraal ceremony).

Misuzulu succeeds his late father King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, who died from Covid-19-related complications last year.

The traditional coronation ceremony marks the acceptance of Misuzulu as rightful heir to the throne after months of bitter succession battles and attempted court interdicts.

The proceedings were due to begin at 10am and the gathered maidens and warriors sang and danced at the steps of the royal palace long before the king’s arrival around midday.

His multi-car convoy was surrounded by police tactical force members as he was quickly whisked into a small kraal behind the palace to undergo traditional ritual practices away from the public eye.

Maidens holding up placards to welcome amaZulu King Misuzulu KaBhekuzulu.
Maidens holding up placards to welcome amaZulu King Misuzulu KaBhekuzulu.
Image: GCIS

Inside the palace’s famed traditional kraal, thousands of amabutho spent the next few hours on their feet, singing and ushering in their new king. Decibel levels increased as a lion skin was distinctly seen entering a small cordoned off area for the king to carry out his final private rituals.

When the king finally emerged, walking through a row of assault rifle-bearing police officers the mass of bodies closed in, almost as if suffocating the open-air cattle pen.

After the ceremony, Misuzulu took his seat on the throne of the Zulu kingdom and was welcomed by non-stop screaming from a sea of maidens, amabutho and dignitaries from Swaziland, Zambia, the UN and SA.

In the presence of other gathered royal family lines, the newly-crowned king addressed the Zulu nation for the first time in his newfound capacity.

“Today people of the king, this is a big day in the history of the Zulu nation. From today, I promise that the Zulu nation will be united,” said Misuzulu. 

His comments come after two opposing factions announced their own successors to the thrown, princes Simakade and Buzabazi. 

As purple-hues lit the evening sky, the masses filtered through bumper-to-bumper traffic leaving the royal palace, only sounds of joy reached the ears of those gathered to witness the historic crowning.

Misuzulu announced an official state coronation will be held at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. 


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