The new king Misuzulu Ka Zwealthini (centre) hopes to unite the Zulu nation just like his father. Photo: Collected

The largest ethnic group in South Africa is the Zulu. The Zulu monarchy is very influential in that country. The state government provides a budget of 49 lakh dollars every year. Recently in South Africa, the new king Misuzulu Ka Zwelethini has made his debut after many dramas in the royal family of the Zulu kingdom. After nearly a year of family feuds, Prince Misuzulu Ka Zwealthini was crowned Zulu King in a traditional ceremony at Nongoma Palace.

To commemorate the royal occasion, Misuzulu ka Zuelthini wore the skin of the lion he had hunted the previous day. Through that lion hunt he had to prove that he was the right leader to lead the Zulu nation. More than 10 cows are slaughtered in preparation for the festival.

The former king’s son is 48 years old, but some members of the Zulu royal family have argued that he is not the rightful heir to the throne, and that the late king’s will has been forged.

Thousands of people attended the coronation. At the beginning of the day the new king paid his respects to his ancestors by entering the sacred cattle pit. The South African government will welcome him in a state ceremony next month. But in modern South Africa the Zulu king has no formal political power.

Note that the Zulu kingdom has a proud history. In 1879, the Zulus defeated the British troops at the Battle of Isandlwana and gained worldwide fame. But the battles over the succession to the throne were always fierce, and sometimes bloody. The legendary Zulu king Shaka ka Senzangakhona killed his own brother in 1816 to usurp the throne. A few years later he himself was killed in a plot by his nephew.

But after the death of the last Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelthini ka Vekuzulu, more than a year ago, the royal family’s recent events have become an embarrassing public drama.

Different factions within the Zulu royal family have variously sued and tried to make their preferred candidates king.

Former king Zuelthini had six wives and at least 28 children. He ruled for more than half a century.

In a controversial will, the late king named his third wife, Queen Montfombi Dlamini Zulu, as regent. The aim was for him to rule the kingdom until the inauguration of a new king.

Queen Montfombi held the most prestigious seat among the wives of the posthumous king. Because he himself came from another royal family. His father was the late King Sobhuja II and his brother was King Meswati III of the neighboring kingdom of Eswatini.

Queen Montfombi’s marriage to the Zulu king stipulated that their first son would claim the throne after her husband’s death.

When Queen Montfombio died after three months as queen mother, it was naturally assumed that her son Misuzulu ka Zwealthini would take over. He was also named as heir in his mother’s will. But the goal was tied when two more sons of the posthumous king staked their claim to the throne.

The royal family was divided into three. And each faction wanted their favorite prince to be king – Misuzulu ka Zuelthini, Simakade ka Zuelthini and Bujabaji ka Zuelthini.

The President of South Africa officially recognized Misuzulu Ka Zuletini as the new Zulu king last March. But Missuzulu’s own brother Mbonisi Zulu sued and petitioned the court to stop the coronation. However, the court dismissed his plea and allowed the inauguration ceremony to continue.

According to Zulu tradition, just a week before Missuzulu’s inauguration, some members of the royal family supported his half-brother, Prince Simakade, as the new king. They argued that Prince Simakade was the first son of the late king. But Zulu State Prime Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi dismissed it as a ‘stupid provocation’.

A few days ago, the three brothers of the new king, Zuelthini, called a press conference and announced Prince Bujabaazi as their preferred king. They claim that of all the boys, the king had the closest relationship with Prince Bujabaji. However, many believe that tribal conflict is at the heart of this civil war.

The new King Misuzulu’s mother came from the Eswatini Kingdom, meaning his son could not be 100% Zulu. Queen Montfombi was not fully accepted as the king’s original wife by many members of the royal family.

(21 August/RZ)