EXPLAINER: Why Mangosuthu used the ‘Prince’ title, even though he came from the Buthelezi clan

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi in 1974. Picture: Independent Archives/ African News Agency

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi in 1974. Picture: Independent Archives/ African News Agency

Published Sep 14, 2023


The issue of the late Mangosuthu Buthelezi using the Zulu Prince title has been a subject of debate in many quarters and for decades.

There were also debates about whether he was a core member of the Zulu Royal Family or not, as he comes from the Buthelezi clan.

The debate gained momentum after the publication of Mzala Nxumalo’s book where it was claimed that Buthelezi is not a prince and should not be using the title.

Nxumalo argued that there are many people who deserve the title, but they are not using it and Buthelezi should drop it.

The debate raged on and it became a tool for discrediting Buthelezi during the apartheid era where it was often claimed he was imposing himself on the royal family.

The recent challenge in this regard was raised in the ongoing court battle for the Zulu throne where it was claimed in court papers by Princess Ntombizosuthu and Princess Ntandoyenkosi and their mother, Queen Sibongile Dlamini, that Buthelezi was imposing himself.

In a remark while making his ruling regarding the matter in March 2022, KwaZulu-Natal Deputy Judge President, Isaac Mjabuliseni Madondo dismissed that and said Buthelezi is a core member of the Zulu Royal Family.

On Wednesday during the memorial service of Buthelezi in Ulundi, Prince Thulani Zulu, the former spokesperson for King Goodwill Zwelithini and King Misuzulu once again clarified the matter.

He dismissed the claims that Buthelezi was not entitled to use the title of Prince.

Zulu said Buthelezi is of Zulu royal heritage, as he is the son of Princess Magogo Constance, the daughter of King Dinuzulu.

As such, he is a descendant of King Cetshwayo, the legendary Zulu King whose army was able to defeat the British at the battle of Isandlwana.

“He is called Prince because he was born by Princess Magogo KaDinuzulu who is also a sister to King Solomon who is our grandfather as we stand here. That’s why he is called Prince,” Zulu told the thousands of mourners.

He added that because of her Zulu royal heritage, when Princess Magogo married Inkosi Mathole Buthelezi who had 10 wives, she became the senior wife and Buthelezi succeeded him as the chief of the clan in Mahlabathini.

“That’s why he (Mangosuthu) was also an Inkosi (Chief) of the Buthelezis,” he added.

It is also a common practice in the Zulu royal family that all children from the Zulu royal family are called Abantwana (Prince or Princess), regardless of whether you are an offspring of a prince or princess.

Within the royal family court, all people are referred to as Mageba, the clan name of the Zulu surname.

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