Durban — The empty chair allocated in recognition of the late Traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Nation Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi at the podium during the Reed Dance ceremony was viewed as a sombre reminder of his death.
The much-anticipated annual dance which took place at Enyokeni Royal Palace at the weekend was met with a sombre and forlorn realisation that “a great tree has fallen”.
The 95-year-old stalwart politician and freedom fighter died on Saturday.
Sakhile Hadebe, a University of KwaZulu-Natal academic in the School of Politics said Buthelezi served the Zulu Monarchy and Nation as Traditional Prime Minister since 1954.
He added that Buthelezi remained fully committed to his responsibility as traditional prime minister until the end of his life.
“The passing of Buthelezi left a massive vacuum at the Traditional Annual Reed Dance over the weekend. Instead of celebrations and enjoyment of the dance, many remembered his humbleness whenever he stood up to introduce His Royal Highness to take to the stage.”
UKZN Cluster leader of African languages and linguistics and Zulu culture expert Dr Gugu Mazibuko said Buthelezi had done “so much work” for the Zulu nation, and the country as a whole.
The Zulu king, instead of declaring the Reed Dance to go ahead, delivered a short speech and cancelled the ceremonies because of the dark cloud that had just befallen the Zulu nation.
King Misuzulu thanked Buthelezi for what he had done for the Zulu nation and the monarchy. He took a decision to cancel the traditional reed dance on Sunday.
“I cry with you, my father’s people. My prime minister stood for the truth until he took his last breath.”
The king asked the Zulu maidens to enjoy day one of the event and dance their hearts out. He thanked them for attending this year’s event and thanked their parents for allowing them to be part of this “big day”.
UKZN’s academic for the School of History Mphumeleli Ngidi hailed Buthelezi for cementing the Zulu nation’s legacy and unifying the Zulu monarchy.
“We have the Ingonyama Trust because of Prince Mangosuthu’s role. He played a very important role in ensuring and intervening in the installation of the current king of the Zulu nation,” said Ngidi.
The historian also applauded Buthelezi’s massive role in the Zulu monarchy, especially in the installation of the current king.
“If Prince Buthelezi’s departure (had) happened before the installation of the current king, I really do think that we were going to see a lot of bloodshed. In that regard, he played a huge role.”
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