First fruit ceremony in shambles

2011-12-12 00:00

KING Goodwill Zwelithini lashed out at the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government for organising a shambolic 20th edition of the uMkhosi woSelwa (first fruit) ceremony held at eNyokeni Royal Palace in Nongoma at the weekend.

Almost 90% of the King’s speech went unheard by thousands of Zulus who had gathered at this most sacred Zulu ceremony because the sound system faltered during his keynote address.

The king was forced to address the audience without it.

The monarch asked angrily, “Why did you bring a sound system that needed to be repaired to such a sacred royal ceremony?

“What is going on here? What if this thing of yours [microphone] fell and hurt me?”

Addressing Premier Zweli Mkhize directly, the king asked why the budget for the ceremony had been slashed by more than half of that for last year’s ceremony, despite the fact that it coincided with the 40th anniversary of his coronation.

The Witness reliably learnt that the budget for this year’s function was reduced by the provincial Arts and Culture Department from last year’s R1,4 million to a mere R500 000 this year.

The king said budget cuts are meant to pit the new MEC for Arts and Culture, Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha, against the royal family.

“But I know that le ngane yabantu kudlalwa ngayo [this child — the new MEC] is being made a scapegoat.

“I know there is a misunderstanding between the head of department and the new MEC, which is the cause of all these troubles…”

The king challenged the provincial government to clarify whether it is still interested in funding the annual ceremony. If it is no longer prepared to do so, “I could appeal to my father’s people to contribute towards its funding”.

“I don’t want to be bluffed as if people loved and honoured me. I don’t want to be pretended to.

“This ceremony is a prayer to us as it is a covenant between our forefathers and God.

“As I am celebrating 40 years on the throne, I did not expect to have a reason to complain …”

Ndabe Sibiya, a spokesperson for the premier, said the premier has noted the concerns raised by King Goodwill regarding the cut in the budget for the ceremony and has promised to deal with the issues raised internally and to report back to the king.

As for the reportedly sour relations between the new MEC and the HOD, the premier said he believes the matter does not warrant a public response at present.

The king said that in South Africa’s constitutional democracy there are people “who have proclaimed themselves as police and judges who are guarding what we do”.

“When we are about to hold our ceremonies as a Zulu nation, we hear these minorities commenting, although some of them, if not all, know nothing about the Zulu culture. They also don’t subscribe to any culture, but see themselves fit to comment about our culture, which they do not understand.”

He said the time has come for the Zulu people to know that, just like all the nations, the Constitution also protects them to be able to practise their culture.

In a reference to the challenge by animal rights groups to the bare-handed killing of a black bull by Zulu warriors, the king said: “We are baffled by people who think that we have to explain to them what we do and why we have to do it … We do not need people to tolerate us, but for them to accept that we have the right to practise our religion as Zulus and we will not stop doing it.”

The killing of the bull by the recently proclaimed Zulu warrior Inala Regiment proceeded without injury, except that the pursued bull pushed a policeman against the kraal.

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