The Zulu king’s mortal remains arrived at his home in KwaNongoma accompanied by amabutho and maidens. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo / ANA
The Zulu king’s mortal remains arrived at his home in KwaNongoma accompanied by amabutho and maidens. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo / ANA

EXPLAINED: King Zwelithini to be 'planted' - This is what it means

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Mar 17, 2021

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DURBAN - FOR MANY, hearing that King Goodwill Zwelithini will be “planted” on Wednesday night was a phrase never heard before.

According to senior IFP leader, Blessed Gwala, in KwaZulu-Natal, there is a belief that the King is unlike everybody else. He explained some of the terms of reference being used in the run-up to what’s called “the planting” and memorial service.

Speaking to the SABC, Gwala said the king is different.

"He is just like an angel that has been sent down to earth in order to rule for a certain period of time and then he will also go and allow the other one to come in. You can’t say the king is dead because he can’t die, an angel can’t die. He is a God-sent leader who has come down to do a particular assignment and rule over the people for a certain period, thereafter then he has to depart and allow the other one to take over," he explained.

Gwala said the customary Zulu belief is that the current king’s spirit is expected to transfer into the next king.

"So to say ukhotheme (bowed down) is ukhothema just as you kneel down and then that’s what it means because he will never die and to say nitshala iNkosi meaning that you plant iNkosi is because he will germinate in the next few days or months. The one that will actually be elected formally by the royal family will be the same one who actually has been planted in the past, so that’s how it works," Gwala said.

King Zwelithini passed away on last week Friday due to Covid-19 complications.

He is due to be planted at midnight at a private ceremony, attended only by men, as per his wishes.

The king's body arrived at the KwaKhethomthandayo royal palace in Nongoma earlier this afternoon.

In a solemn procession that started from a mortuary in the central business district of the town of Nongoma to the palace, his body was escorted by Zulu regiments clad in full traditional Zulu regalia.

The king was 72 years-old and a memorial service will be held on Thursday.

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