Ritual: bull takes 20 min to die

2009-12-07 00:04
King Goodwill Zwelithini pictured in his traditional attire - designed with specifications for the Zulu king - during the annual umkhosi wokweshwama ceremony. (Siyabonga Masonkutu)

King Goodwill Zwelithini pictured in his traditional attire - designed with specifications for the Zulu king - during the annual umkhosi wokweshwama ceremony. (Siyabonga Masonkutu)

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Pietermaritzburg - Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini lambasted people who criticise other people’s culture and called for the revival of circumcision during his address at the Umkhosi wokweshwama ceremony at the Nyokeni royal palace in Nongoma on Saturday.

The king’s call for circumcision has received support from Premier Zweli Mkhize who attended the ceremony.

President Jacob Zuma also arrived at the ceremony and watched with thousands of amabutho as more than 30 young warriors fought the bull as it jumped and kicked while running around the kraal.

The king named the young warriors, aged between 16 and 19 years, Izinnyosi (bees). The young men took off their shirts and in the chilly afternoon, stood half naked inside the kraal, ready to face the beast.

Barehanded, they held the bull by its horns and wrestled it to the ground where they killed it. It took about 20 minutes for the bull to die.

Photographers were not permitted to bring their cameras inside the grounds of the palace. Women and children were sent away from the kraal - in case the bull broke out and injured someone - and all men had to be inside the kraal behind the Izinnyosi warriors.


Thousands of people from far and wide, including amabutho from Pietermaritzburg and the surrounding areas, attended the ceremony.

Zwelithini said the excitement created around umkhosi wokweshwama has helped the Zulu nation to be “careful how we conduct our rituals”. He also noted that some people attended because of the hype created prior to the ceremony.

He said it was “despicable” to suggest that Zulus have no respect for animal rights. He also dismissed claims that the bull’s tongue was pulled out when it was alive. He said pictures that were published in the media were “doctored”.

“The bull has teeth. I cannot fathom how you can pull out a bull’s tongue without cutting off your hand.” The king said he would have liked to ignore the court challenge by Animal Rights Africa over the bull killing.

Referring to the court ruling on Friday, the king said umkhosi wokweshwama is a “wonderful” ritual that would not be spoiled by people who “claim to know our culture more than we do”.

“This ritual fulfils what it needs to fulfil. A nation without its customs and beliefs is likely to be lost forever. It informs us of who we are, where we are coming from and where we are going.”

He said he had been fasting and praying to the ancestors during the period leading up to the ceremony.

Love animals

The king said he was saddened by people talking about matters of which they are ignorant. “They say we abuse animals, this is talking without sense… We love and appreciate animals.

“How dare they tell us about our beliefs on how to nourish our nation? What happens here inside the royal palace is the climax of how our families are built. I feel it is time for me to teach about this.”

He said the Zulu nation has practised the ritual for over 3 000 years. He said the first fruit ceremony is to give praise to ancestors for the crops and livestock.

The king appealed to the Zulu nation to respect and tolerate other people’s cultures whether “we see something wrong or not”.


“In the context of the fight against HIV and Aids I should announce my intention to revive the practice of circumcision amongst young men,” the king announced.

Reacting to the king’s call for circumcision, Mkhize said it will assist “in the fight against the pandemic, although on its own does not prevent the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases”.

“The king is in consultation with me and the government of KZN with the view of seeking professional and medical interventions to ensure that young men in this province are circumcised.”

The king said circumcision was stopped by King Shaka. “Now we are facing different challenges of disease. Young boys will now be circumcised here in my palace. We will use modern ways, doctors will do the circumcision.”

He declared a war on HIV/Aids and TB, saying that doctors and nurses will not win this fight alone.

King Goodwill urged warriors to protect women and children from the scourge of HIV/Aids.

Read more on:    zweli mkhize  |  king goodwill zwelithini  |  ukweshwama ritual  |  hiv/aids


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