King Goodwill Zwelithini marries 6th wife

2014-07-26 12:03

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People are trickling into Ulundi’s football stadium ahead of the wedding by custom and tradition later today of King Goodwill Zwelithini and his sixth wife, Queen Zola Mafu.

More than 10 000 people are expected to eventually fill the stadium and the adjacent Ulundi multipurpose centre, where the spillover of members of the public will be accommodated, when the royal couple perform their traditional wedding rites during the afternoon.

A tent city has been set up around the stadium, with a massive police contingent already in place to control the crowd expected later in the day. Vendors are setting up in the streets around the stadium, expecting a busy day as people flock into the area to catch a glimpse of the monarch (66) tying the knot with his bride (27).

Mafu came into the royal family in 2004, at the tender age of 17, with her pregnancy causing something of a stir, given the monarch’s role in calling on the youth to abstain from sex in a bid to stem the tide of HIV infections.

Last night Queen Mafu’s entourage arrived in Ulundi from Swaziland, passing the Ondini palace where she will live, en route to a temporary home.

This morning, she and her bridesmaids arrived at Ondini with their entourage for the leg of the wedding in which they will dance and sing to their future in-laws, who will reciprocate.

The media have been asked to stay away from this part of the wedding to allow the families some privacy.

The monarch and his bride then travel separately to the stadium for the next stage of the wedding, which is open to the media, arriving separately with the entourage. Both will perform traditional dances and songs as part of the wedding proceedings before they solemnise the bond in a short ceremony during which both attest that lobola (bride price) has been paid in full and that they are both aware of the consequences of their actions.

The royal couple will then perform a dance before moving off to Ondini, originally the seat of King Cetshwayo, for a private luncheon and an afternoon of dance and song.

Tomorrow will mark the final leg of the three-day wedding, in which prescribed gifts are exchanged ahead of a thanksgiving feast.

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