Zulu king presented with two lion cubs

2010-09-27 00:00

IT was literally a present fit for a king when old friends of the royal family presented Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini with two lion cubs from Johannesburg during the King Shaka commemoration at KwaDukuza sports grounds on Saturday.

King Zwelithini was visibly excited as he posed for pictures while holding the male and female cubs.

He was soon joined by the rest of the royal family who eagerly took turns to hold the cute young lions.

The surprise gift arrived in a cage, which was opened by employees of the SA Lion Park in Johannesburg, Nadien van Wyk and Chaine Oosthuizen. Holding and caressing the cubs, they reassured the audience that they are not dangerous. The king then did the same and posed for pictures with the cubs before handing them to other members of the royal family to appreciate the present.

Thembi Lerole made the surprise gift. His Johannesburg-based family has been close to the Royal family since the days when the late king Cyprian Bhekuzulu, the present king’s father, was still alive.

“The Lerole family used to visit the royal family when the king was still alive. I am delighted about the gift from the old family friends,” king Zwelithini said.

The cubs will be kept and raised by the Lion Park on behalf of the king.

Zwelithini announced that the name for the female cub is going to be Nandi, in honour of king Shaka’s mother, Queen Nandi.

The male cub is going to be called Mpande, in memory of the king’s grandfather, Mpande, who was the brother of Shaka and Dingane.

In his speech, the king called on KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize to help ensure that all the youth who were circumcised this year to gather at Nyokeni Royal household in December for the ­ukweshwama ceremony (eating of the first fruits).

King Zwelithini had re-introduced the ukusoka practice in January this year on evidence that circumcision sharply reduces HIV transmission, some 200 years after King Shaka had scrapped it.

“Let us avoid things that perpetuate HIV and Aids and other diseases. I want to commend those in charge of Aids programmes in KZN for the good work they are doing in fighting the scourge.

“I appeal to everyone to avoid Aids by not practising unsafe sex,” the king said.

The king also banned the use of the formal royal greetings of Bayede and Ndabezitha towards amakhosi, saying these are royal greetings reserved for Zulu kings only.

He also appealed to drug lords to stop spreading drugs among the youth, saying they are destroying lives and the future of the nation.

As is customary, during the ceremony the king was also presented with gifts such as rare books and cattle.

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