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Durban - ‘Go home my dear daughters, run and go to your Creator!” This was the heartfelt goodbye from King Goodwill Zwelithini to eight young Zulu maidens and two minders, who died in a bus accident on Sunday.
The maidens were returning home from eNyokeni Palace, Nongoma, after attending the annual Reed Dance (uMkhosi woMhlanga) at the Enyokeni Palace, in Nongoma.
They were on their way home to uMzumbe, near Hibberdene on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast on Sunday when the bus crashed near melmoth.
A sad and emotional Zwelithini told a gallery of about 100 guests that he had cried alone in his room after he had been told of the tragic accident after the Reed Dance ceremony.
“At the beginning of spring, a time when flowers blossom, as a nation we lost our flowers, my daughters, maidens of the reeds, the first borns,” he said.
“When I heard of this (accident), most of the queens were at the palace, waiting for the hour (sunset), waiting for the time to tell me what has happened.
“When they got into my room they found me crying, literally, I was crying about (the children), zife zize kumina (they died coming to me), it was painful and it is still painful, that is why I release them to the kingdom,” he said.
It was the first time the king had spoken about the accident.
He was speaking at Sibaya Casino at the launch of the Zulu Royal Family’s TV show, eBukhosini, which will air on community TV channel, 1KZN TV in early October. It is available on DSTV, channel 261, and on Top TV, channel 187.
Said the king: “The 1st of September 2013 will be remembered as a day on which our faith was tested as parents and as a people.
“It is on that day that (eight) of our maidens perished in a bus accident returning from the annual Reed Dance… In the same accident we also lost other people, two minders and many were injured,” he said.
“I release you because our love will not bind you from going home, go home my daughters, run and go to your Creator,” he said.
He urged the about 100 guests to pray for the affected families “whose worlds have been shattered”.
The king said many messages of condolences had been communicated from across the world.
“To my daughters who have gone too soon, I say thank you.
“Thank you for hearing my call and thank you for being good ambassadors of our culture and kingdom. You have been our ambassadors to the end,” he said.
“As your father and your king, I release you to the power and the kingdom greater than us all.
“I release you, as I know that our love would not bind you from going home.
“And, I pray that they will be comforted by a power greater than any of us, spoken through ages in Psalm 23: ‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for You are with me’,” he said.
“Yes, as great people we have been pained, but we are still standing.
“And, we are indeed grateful that the world is standing with us,” he said.
eThekwini mayor, James Nxumalo, called for a moment of silence in remembrance of the 10 women who lost their lives.
“May their souls rest in peace… We convey our deepest condolences to the Zulu Royal Family and the families of those who have lost their lives in the tragic incident that followed a colourful and successful uMkhosi woMhlanga.
“We extend our moral support and prayers during this time of sorrow,” he said.