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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

King Shaka Celebrations: Address by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, M.P.

INKOSI OF THE BUTHELEZI CLAN CHAIRMAN, HOUSE OF TRADITIONAL LEADERS (KWAZULU-NATAL)
AND UNDUNANKULU KAZULU 
AND MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 5, 1996

The Masters of Ceremonies, Mr L.M. Zulu and Mr M.B. Gwala, MPP; Inkosi C.E. Zungu and the Reverend B.J. Mngomezulu who conducted devotions for us; Prince Gideon kaMnyayiza kaNclahuko, Provincial Minister of Social Welfare and Population Development; Inkosi N. Biyela, Chairman of Enseleni Regional Authority; Inkosi P. Biyela, Chairman of Inkanyezi Regional Authority and Inkosi M.B. Mzimela, Deputy Chairman of the House of Traditional Leaders of the Kingdom of KwaZulu; Inkosi B.N. Mdletshe, Chairman of Hlabisa Regional Authority; the Honourable the Premier of the Government of the Kingdom of KwaZulu Natal, and Honourable Ministers present; members of the Zulu Royal House present; amaKhosi of the Kingdom of KwaZulu Natal; members of the National Parliament; members of the KwaZulu Natal Parliament; the Mayor of Mtubatuba, Mr M.C. Zungu; other Mayors and Councillors present; Indunas; other distinguished guests; members of the Zulu Nation, ladies and gentlemen.

For almost half a century people of the Kingdom of KwaZulu have come together to celebrate the memory of the great deeds of the Founder of our Nation, King Shaka ka Senzangakhona. These many ceremonies have customarily taken place on or about the anniversary of the burial date of King Shaka. Year after year we have celebrated the legacy which we have inherited because of the historical achievements brought about by King Shaka who forged the many people of this Region into a united, strong and well-organised Nation. We have celebrated the legacy of our Zuluness which each year has grown stronger and more important for us, both as individuals and as members of the Zulu Nation. With our Zuluness we have celebrated those intangible, cultural and spiritual elements which make us what we are, in spite of and notwithstanding the differences of daily life. Indeed, on occasions such as this one, we realise that our Zuluness in which all that we all share, creates an element of unity amongst us which not only can no one take away from us, but also we ourselves can not ignore.

We live in an age in which there is a great deal of rhetoric about the notion of building a united Nation out of all the diverse peoples of South Africa. We as Zulus have always indicated our desire to participate in the making of a great South African country in which people may share our country's opportunities and resources and be bound by a common destiny. However, we as Zulus have always indicated that the building of a South African Nation should take place on the basis of building blocks, which are provided by the existing diversity of our respective cultures, traditions and separate nationhoods. Unfortunately, there are many people in our country who believe that national reconciliation can be achieved by levelling and obliterating our diversity, forcing the people of South Africa to be alienated

South Africa and is generating a new solidarity. On the 27th of September 1996, traditional leaders from throughout the country convened in Durban at the invitation of the Minister of Traditional and Environmental Affairs of our Kingdom, Inkosi N.J. Ngubane. Our Kingdom became the catalyst of a Conference on the Unity of Traditional Leaders which took place on that day. Important resolutions were adopted in which all amaKhosi agreed that henceforth they would act in unity of intent and purpose in dealing with the many constitutional, legislative and policy issues confronting our country.

During this Conference amaKhosi claimed for themselves and for their own people the right to directly participate in the governance of the country at all levels. Specifically, amaKhosi have demanded that the cultures, laws and traditions of our traditional communities be respected. We as amaKhosi have declared to the world that there is something wrong in the priorities of our country because we have not yet seen an effort being made to direct resources towards the development of rural areas. We have clearly stated that the social and economic development of traditional communities should become the priority item of any government, which claims to speak on behalf of the majority of the people of South Africa. We have also declared that the preservation of our culture and the development of our communities are not contradictory, and that we must ensure that development is brought about in a manner which respects the cultural and traditional characteristics of our communities. The time has come to empower traditional authorities with much greater delivery ability, so that within our own communities there is the necessary financial, logistical and infrastructure capacity to foster our development.

Traditional leaders and traditional communities have been an important force in the building of the new South Africa and they have contributed to bringing our country to where we are now. It seems, however, that there is now an undeclared policy to eliminate traditional leadership and to transform traditional leaders into mere ceremonial figures who can no longer work for the development of their communities as their primary administrators. Hearings were held before the Constitutional Court to verify whether the constitutional text adopted by the Constitutional Assembly on May 8, 1996 complies with the Constitutional Principles which were attached to the interim Constitution as a fundamental pact, promising some meaningful requirements in the new Constitution. During these hearings CONTRALESA appeared through its Chairman, Inkosi Patekile Holomisa and the Deputy Chairman, Inkosi Nonkonyana, and they made a statement that the new Constitution had breached the fundamental pact as it related to the promises made to traditional leaders and their communities.

It is true that in the end the Constitution drafted by the Constitutional Assembly sought to accommodate almost everybody, but refused to make any significant concession to the Kingdom of KwaZulu Natal or to the culture and traditions of amaKhosi and their traditional communities. They even no longer mention the Zulu Monarchy and the Kingdom of KwaZulu Natal, in spite of the fact that in the Agreement for Reconciliation and Peace which President Mandela, the then State President Mr FW de Klerk and I signed on April 19, 1994. It was formally and solemnly agreed that the Kingdom of KwaZulu Natal would be recognised and that also for that purpose international mediation would be held. We are now faced with the fruits of the failure to honour international mediation and with the dramatic choice which confronts us as a Nation and calls upon us to choose between struggling for that which we have inherited from our forebears, or losing it forever to the forces of those who

We must now give a clear warning to those who think that they can choose for us, that which is so totally unacceptable to us. They must know that their behaviour would ignite something that no one would be able to control. Having been the Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan for four decades, I more than many of the people sitting in Cape Town and Pretoria know the heart and soul of the Zulu Nation, and know that there are certain things that we as Zulus are prepared to oppose, whatever the cost may be. What King Shaka did in shaping a new Nation and in creating a Kingdom which lasted to this day, has not been forgotten. We learnt then, and we still know in the depth of our soul, that we are ready to pay the direst cost to defend and protect the dearest values of our Zuluness, that is protecting what God created us to be as a people. For instance, we know that the Zulu Nation will not accept its ancestral land being controlled and administered by the central government. Land is a sensitive and emotional issue which has been the source of many violent conflicts for centuries. We hope that it will be handled with sensitivity and diplomacy.

This is a very emotional and sensitive issue on which the long-term stability, peace and prosperity of our country may hinge. A stalemate has been reached between the Kingdom of KwaZulu Natal and the central government with respect to the control of the land of the Zulu Nation, and not much progress has been made to ensure that title to our land is returned to us as the land's rightful owners. It is our intention to seek all ways and means to reach a settlement with the central government because we believe that our country must achieve reconciliation and peace if we wish to attract the much needed foreign investment, and focus our efforts and energy on the tasks of economic and social development. We are also dramatically aware of the urgent need to create employment opportunities for our people who are the poorest of the poor.

We need to seek reconciliation and a solution to outstanding problems so that we can begin a long journey towards social and economic upliftment. I must be clear in stating the truth of the matter, for I have never created in the people of this Kingdom expectations which can not be met, or made promises which turned out to be lies. It will take generations before we are able to redress the social injustices which we have inherited from our past, and to deliver to the poverty-stricken areas of our country the relief they need. We as the Zulu Nation have the duty to begin this long journey towards prosperity without waiting for hand-outs or the largesse of the central government. We have within our Nation the strength to begin the journey, and we need to wait for no one to hitch a ride to meet our destiny. However we can not succeed in our journey if we don't put right that which is wrong, and if we are deprived of our most basic freedoms and liberties.

I often wonder whether many people ever pause to think about the fact that most of the land under amaKhosi in KwaZulu Natal is not ancestral land in every case, but includes in most cases, land given by King Shaka himself to some of our ancestors as rewards. These rewards were for the valour displayed by our ancestors in the various wars in which they participated. I think it is important to appreciate this fact if we want truly to comprehend just what an emotional and sensitive issue land is to us as amakhosi and people of this Province. The ancestors of many people who live in our areas also participated in the wars of conquest under their amaKhosi and under the leadership of King Shaka. The issue has therefore to be handled with great care and sensitivity as it can create many problems if it is not handled in this way.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.