Royal wedding draws thousands to Pongola
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The sleepy town of Pongola in northern KwaZulu-Natal came alive on Saturday when thousands of people came from all over South Africa and neighbouring countries to witness the royal wedding of the daughter of King Goodwill Zwelithini, the Zulu monarch.
The wedding, attended by about 5 000 people, took place at the Pongola Rugby Club.
Princess Ntandoyesizwe married Oupa Moilwa of the Bahurutse royal household in North West.
A huge marquee had been erected on the rugby field for the VIPs, while the locals sat in the sun and watched from outside. The crowd broke into song and ululation when the bride and groom were declared married.
The western ceremony was attended by dignitaries including Deputy President Jacob Zuma; Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party; provincial government ministers and royal representatives from Swazi and Xhosa royal families.
Wisecracks abounded at the wedding about the event being the "Pongola July" because of the high fashion on display. The second leg of the wedding, a Tswana traditional ceremony, will be held at the groom's home in Zeerust, North West, on Saturday.
Princess Ntandoyesizwe is the second daughter of the Zulu king to get married after Princess Nandi and Bovulengwe Mtirara of the Tembu royal household tied the knot in Umtata last year.
Ntandoyesizwe, a former beauty queen, is the daughter of Queen Mantfombi, sister of King Mswati of Swaziland.
The bride looked dazzling in her white wedding dress, while the groom was dressed in a sleek navy suit with a gold-trimmed sash across his chest. Local residents who came to witness the wedding said, however, they were disappointed that it was a western-style marriage rather than a traditional one.
"We expected a traditional wedding in line with our culture. A royal wedding is expected to set an example for the people to preserve their culture. It seems everyone is jumping on to the bandwagon of western influences," said Samu Sithole.
The wedding was described as an unprecedented occasion as it was the first time that a descendant of Zulu royalty married someone outside the Nguni ethnic group, which consists of Xhosas, Zulus, Ndebeles and Swazis. Moilwa is a Tswana by birth.
The public ceremony took place amid tight security at the Pongola Rugby Stadium. The South African Police Service (SAPS) had prepared for the event for a week in advance and had contingency plans in place. The SAPS allocated between 100 and 150 officers to each of the three days of celebration.