King Goodwill Zwelithini puts a ring on it

2014-07-27 15:00

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He may be turning 86 next month but Mangosuthu Buthelezi sure knows how to dance.

The elderly politician led the amabutho (regiments) in dance yesterday at the wedding of Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini to his sixth bride, Queen Zola Mafu.

The monarch, who turns 66 today, tied the knot in Ulundi with his 27-year-old bride, who joined the royal family almost 10 years ago at the age of 17.

The wedding was held in front of more than 10?000 well-wishers – including throngs of tourists – who made the long journey to the former KwaZulu-Natal capital.

Among the guests there for the second day of the three-day nuptials were President Jacob Zuma, dressed in traditional attire, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko and Deputy Science and Technology Minister Zanele Magwaza-Msibi.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu and most of his executive council also attended.

Mafu, a Swazi princess, danced for the king and Zuma, and Buthelezi and Mchunu.

When she arrived, the queen, who will live in the king’s Ondini palace in Ulundi, was met by the king and kept her eyes turned down as a sign of respect.

Three covered VIP and VVIP areas kept the A-listers cool while amabutho from across the province sweated under the blazing sun in the Ulundi football stadium, where the public part of the wedding was held.

Queen Zola Mafu and her Swazi entourage during the ceremony. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya/City Press

The arrival of the dignitaries was preceded by a cavalcade of motorcycles from Zululand bike clubs.

The royal couple exchanged traditional wedding vows to authenticate the payment of lobola and to confirm the couple’s commitment to the responsibility they are taking on as man and wife.

After the stadium ceremony, the royal couple left for Ondini, where a private dinner was held for the two royal families and their invited guests.

The public was treated to a feast in the massive tents erected around the stadium.

Mafu arrived from Swaziland overnight with her entourage, passing Ondini to a temporary overnight residence in accordance with tradition.

Yesterday morning, she and her entourage visited her future home for the first time in a ceremony of song and dance involving both her and the Zulu entourage.

Today will be the final leg of the wedding, in which prescribed gifts are exchanged ahead of a day of feasting during which thanks are given for the union.

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