Why King Misuzulu will not attend Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s funeral on Friday

King Misuzulu KaZwelithini. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya/African News Agency(ANA)

King Misuzulu KaZwelithini. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Sep 11, 2023


Despite their long association and the fact that Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi played an important role in getting King Misuzulu KaZwelithini to take over the throne after the death of his father, he will not be able to say his last goodbye.

Buthelezi will be buried on Friday in what is expected to be a State funeral attended by high-profile mourners.

King Misuzulu and some of his inner circle will have to stay away because of centuries of cultural practices of some of the Nguni monarchs (Zulu, Swati, Ndebele and Xhosa).

It will not be the first time the King of the Zulu nation has not attended a funeral since March 2021.

Shortly after the death of his father King Goodwill Zwelithini in March 2021, he was taken to eSwatini as he was already designated as the next king and he missed the funeral, while the rest of his siblings attended it.

Again, King Misuzulu, who was a Prince by then, also missed the funeral of his mother, Queen Mantfombi Dlamini-Zulu in May 2021. He only came back later to join a memorial service where it became clear that he was going to take over the throne.

Cultural experts have time and again explained that Zulu monarchs (and some Nguni kings as well) do not attend funerals, and that people who have been to funerals or anywhere where there is a corpse or a bereavement, have to spend time away, later cleansed before they could meet or come anywhere near the king.

According to a Zulu belief, death is bad luck and the king should not be anywhere where there is a bereavement or a grave.

It is for that reason King Misuzulu is not staying at KwaKhangelamankengane palace as the grave of his mother is located within the palace.

As a result, despite the long service Buthelezi has rendered to the royal family since 1955 when he was appointed by King Bhekuzulu to be the Zulu’s monarch’s traditional prime minister, to his service under King Goodwill Zwelithini, King Misuzulu won’t attend his funeral.

Instead, he will send a delegation to represent him and the delegation will only be able to meet with him a week later and brief him on how it went.

Because of the same cultural practices, on Tuesday the delegation of Amakhosi (Chiefs) from all over KwaZulu-Natal will start by meeting with King Misuzulu before it visits the Buthelezi family to mourn his death.

[email protected]

IOL Politics