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Durban - A KwaZulu-Natal octogenarian, who has been described as a “walking encyclopedia” of Zulu history and lore, has been honoured before national Heritage Day on Tuesday.
Skhushu Mzimela, 85, has been given an Amafa Heritage KZN award, presented to individuals and groups that contribute to preserving and fostering the heritage of the province.
Mzimela is respected for his knowledge of the oral history of the province and its people.
Born in Dlangubo, outside Eshowe, Baba Mzimela, as he is affectionately addressed, said he learnt all he knows from his elders.
“I did not go to school at all.
“When I was growing up I looked after the cattle on our farm and I always listened to the stories my mother and other elders around me spoke about.”
Mzimela said heritage was important and he wanted his grandchildren and great grandchildren to understand their history and the history of others in South Africa.
He was also a member of the uKhiphinkuzi regiment, which was founded by King Bhekuzulu Nyangayezizwe kaSolomon, father of the current Zulu king.
Mzimela is fond of the history of Isihlahla Samagwala, which directly translated means “The cowards’ tree”.
It is an area where Shaka Zulu grouped and groomed his soldiers for war; however, if they were considered cowards and showed agony when put through certain tests, they were killed.
Zinhle Ndaba, project manager in planning and economic development at the uThungulu District Municipality, said of Mzimela: “We call him a walking encyclopedia because he has a lot of historical knowledge that he has managed to store in his brain at his age and teach others about. He has contributed a great deal of information to many people without expecting payment.”
Jabu Sithole, council chairman of Amafa KZN, said people should celebrate heritage.
Other recipients of Amafa awards, which were presented last week, include Mike Clark, who has written three books on local history and wildlife in the Transkei region; the 1860 Indentured Labourers Foundation for their work in creating awareness of the cultural values of the indentured labourers; and Nomcebo Ngubane, the founder and leader of Uthweba Traditional Group, which produces traditional attire in the KwaXimba area of Cato Ridge.
l A host of events were planned to celebrate Heritage Day on Tuesday.
Music lovers were to be treated to Old Mutual Music at the Lake Concert with Black Coffee at 2.30pm at the Durban Botanic Gardens.
The PRC heritage celebrations were due to take place at Pufaro Park in Newlands East from 9am. This celebration was to start with a colourful street parade from Musa Dladla Road and end at Pufaro Park.
Castle Lager will attempt to break a world record by having the biggest braai.
The Durban leg of the braai will take place at the Moses Mabhida People’s Park.