A historic wedding

2014-07-26 00:00

A PALACE finally gets a queen.

History will be made this weekend when King Goodwill Zwelithini (66) marries his sixth wife, Zola Mafu (28), as she will be taking up residence in the Ondini Palace.

Swazi princess Mafu, a fiancée of the king since 2004 and by whom he has a child, has up to now been living at the KwaKhangela Palace near Nongoma.

The Ondini Palace, just outside Ulundi, was built in 1995, but has yet to have a royal in residence.

“It’s important to us as a Zulu nation,” said Inkosi Phathisizwe Chiliza, chairperson of the KwaZulu-Natal House of Traditional Leaders.

“This is the first time there has been a queen here since the palace of King Cetshwayo was brutally destroyed in 1879. This is why we are encouraging people, especially the youth, to come to the wedding and learn about our history.”

The original Ondini Palace, home to King Cetshwayo, was burnt down by the British on July 4, 1879 after they had defeated the Zulus in the Battle of Ulundi at the end of the Anglo-Zulu War.

The area has a particular significance for the Zulus, said historian Professor Jabulani Maphalala, as Cetshwayo’s father, King Mpande, is buried in Ulundi.

“Mpande was the most peaceful king,” said Maphalala, adding that his long reign saw the creation of many cultural ceremonies “during a time of prosperity and peace”.

Culture and tradition will play a key role in this weekend’s royal wedding. “It will be the most traditional Zulu wedding — everyone will be wearing skin attire or traditional attire.”

Maphalala said though the wedding will be no different from that of a commoner, as the king is “custodian of all that is done by the Zulu people”, the traditional elements will be observed down to the smallest detail.

He said that the abayeni(the bridegroom’s party) and umthimba (the bridal party) will be the two most prominent groups dancing and singing at the event.

The songs are constructed in a call and response pattern, Maphalala said, and everyone can join in and be part of the wedding. The role of a priest or religious minister is taken by an uMmeli — “he’s something like a policeman or lawyer, and he repeatedly emphasises the question ‘are you taking this person as a wife?’”

Chiliza said as many as 30 000 people could attend the wedding.

Chiliza and his fellow amakhosi have organised the gifts of cattle and sheep from all over the province that will be slaughtered to provide food for those attending the wedding.

The wedding celebrations continue as long as there is food and there are people. “It could last until the end of next week,” said Chiliza.

• Stephen.Coan@witness.co.za

a son, and a delay ahead of wedding

Stephen Coan

THE royal bride Zola Mafu joined the Zulu royal family in 2004 when she was 17. She has since been living at KwaKhangela Palace with fellow Swazi Queen Mantfombi, daughter of King Sobhuza II, whom the king married in 1977.

In 2005 she gave birth to a son, Prince Nhlendla. There has been controversy over the paying of lobolo for her and the wedding has been delayed several times.

The king first married in 1969 to Sibongile Dlamini, prior to his installation as king in 1971. He married Buhle Mathe in 1974, and in 1977 he married Queen Mantfombi. In 1988 he married Thandi Ndlovu and in 1992 he married Queen Nompumelelo MaMchiza

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