Ba phathi bohlelo Minister Dr Nkaosazana Dlamini Zuma and uMtwana waste Ndlunkulu uQedi,

Ondlunkulu beSilo kanye nabaNtwana basendlunkulu,

Amakhosi onke, Izinduna nemikhandlu yobukhosi,

President wa maloba ubaba u Jacob Nxamalala Zuma

Utwana waka Phinda Ngene

Your Majesties Kings and Queens from all over the country, the continent and other parts of the world,

Especially Nkosi ya Makhosi Mbelwa from Malawi,

Ibutho likaZulu nazo zonke izizwe,

Abaphathiswa bakaHulumeni kuzo zonke isigaba zombuso,

Your Eminence Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and

Abaholi bezenkolo,

Abaholi bama qembu ezepolitiki,

Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Mr Sihle Zikalala and other Premiers,

Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders, Inkosi Mahlangu,

Chairperson of the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders, Inkosi Chiliza and Deputy Chairperson Inkosi Zulu,

President of Contralesa, Kgoshi Mokoena,

Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

Members of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures,

Mayors and Councillors

Fellow mourners,

Isizwe sonke samaZulu nabantu be Ningizimu Afrika:

(Bantu bakithi), today is a difficult day. Ilanga lishone emini!

We are bidding farewell to our leader, His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu, Isilo Samabandla Onke.

It is a difficult day because A huge tree has fallen. Uwile umuthi omkhulu.

Our nation is in mourning. Isizwe sonke siyalila.

It was with the heaviest of hearts that we received the news last week that our beloved leader and king had, after a courageous struggle, succumbed to the deadly disease that has taken the lives of so many people.

I want to thank umtwana waka Phinda Ngene (Ubaba uButhelezi) who kept me and the nation informed at all times of His Majesty’s condition. He and i spoke with sadness and empathy on a number of occasions about the difficult situation the King was going through

The passing of Isilo Samabandla Onke has been met with grief and sorrow throughout our land.

On behalf of the people of South Africa, I express my deepest condolences to the Royal Family and to the Zulu nation on this profound loss.

Many leaders and peoples of other countries across the African continent and other parts of the world have expressed their sorrow since hearing of his Majesty’s passing. We also received the heartfelt condolences of the United Nations Secretary General Mr Antonio Guterres.

As we mourn our beloved King we also received the sad news about the passing of President Magafuli, President of Tanzania. I spoke to her Excellency Vice President Hassan this morning and conveyed the condolences of the people of South Africa to the government and the people of Tanzania our sister country on their loss. As we all know Tanzania is a country that stood with us during our struggle for freedom and sacrificed a lot and halted and delayed their development so we can be free.

The passing of his Majesty means that We have lost a revered leader who had the distinction of leading the Zulu people for half a century.

The significance of his long reign and his legacy is not lost on us.

History will recall that after many years of conflict and turmoil, it was in the course of his reign that the Zulu kingdom achieved the stability and harmony that had so long eluded it.

It was during the course of his reign, that his people – alongside all the people of our nation – realised their dream of freedom from the injustices of colonialism and apartheid.

And it was during his reign that the decades of dispossession – and the wilful destruction of our knowledge and economic systems, culture and governance institutions – came to an end.

Imbube will be remembered for being the staunchest defender of his people. He not only defended and advanced the interests of the Zulu people but advanced their culture, their customs, their traditions and a deep sense of identity and nationhood.

He is celebrated across our beloved continent Africa because he valued diversity and respected the cultures of other kingdoms and nations.

During the tumultuous period of political transition in this country, he played a significant role in the achievement of democracy.

The King will be remembered for his role in bringing peace and stability to KwaZulu-Natal during the difficult times our country went through.

As a leader, he preached peace and unity. He abhorred violence and its consequences.

As the country moved towards democracy, he called for an end to political killings, travelling around the country meeting and encouraging people to resort to peaceful means of resolving conflict.

At some point as he sought to deal with the problem of violence – he said:

“Who will I lead if all my father’s people are killing each other?”

His Majesty was a man who believed that the pursuit of violence is ethically and morally wrong.

His Majesty was one of our most revered traditional leaders.

As one of the elders of our country, his advice was regularly sought by leaders of different political persuasions, including myself. I remember with fondness the long and in depth conversations i had with him on every thing from rearing cattle, agriculture, leadership, culture including international matters. Being in his presence was a rare privilege. He always exuded Warmth, wisdom and love for the people of South Africa and the entire continent.

His Majesty was a champion of development and progress. He was a great visionary and had deep insights on how best to develop our country and its people.

He advocated for better health outcomes among his people, leading from the front in the fight against HIV, AIDS and TB.

He founded the Bayede Trust, which has worked to mitigate the impact of HIV and AIDS throughout the province.

He encouraged responsible behaviour especially amongst young people.

He challenged the international community to avail more funding against the AIDS pandemic and the South African government to provide treatment to our people.

Let it be clearly understood that moral courage was one of his noblest virtues.

He encouraged young people to be safe from sexually transmitted diseases, from substance abuse and from premature parenthood.

I want to share a remarkable story about a very important project that will be part of His Majesty’s enduring legacy.

One of my responsibilities as Deputy President was as Chair of the South African National AIDS Council.

My predecessor, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, had told me there was a very critical project that he had started with the support from Isilo Samabandla.

This was a project of reintroducing male circumcision – ukusoka.

Scientists had shown that ukusoka reduced the chances of transmitting HIV.

During my term as Deputy President, working with various sectors of society, we saw this programme grow here in KwaZulu-Natal.

Imbube was the champion of this intervention.

He called on amakhosi, Izinduna and community leaders in this province to support the initiative.

Today, we have thousands of young men undergoing safe medical circumcision, a practice that had been suspended by iLembe because he needed men to be ready for battle.

Recognising the new battle of saving lives, Bayede readily called on his subjects and championed ukusokwa as one of the weapons against the spread of HIV and AIDS.

In leading this life saving project his Majesty demonstrated courage and vision.

Siyawubabaza umsebenzi ongaka ka Bayede!

He revived a number of aspects of Zulu culture and heritage. In this respect he proved to all that he was indeed the repository of culture and tradition.

Isilo took it upon himself to restore two Zulu cultural activities that were no longer prominent as a result of colonial interference, namely Umkhosi wo Mhlanga, the annual Reed Dance, and Umkhosi Wo kweshwama, the Ceremony of the First Fruits.

Through his cultural revival programme, His Majesty helped to turn this province into a cultural jewel and a compelling tourism destination.

He worked with the provincial leadership to showcase the Kwazulu Natal province as one of the most attractive destinations for major global events, demonstrating the importance of culture and heritage preservation.

We all remember that Isilo was a great lover of music and had varied musical tastes.

He recognised the importance of musicians as cultural ambassadors and lent his support to the growth of various genres of music such as maskandi, isicathamiya, mbaqanga and choral music.

He believed that through supporting local music, poetry and literature that the stories and histories of our people could not just gain a wider audience but also educate the younger generation.

His Majesty was a bridge-builder between cultures. He appreciated the importance of unity and social cohesion.

In recent years, he held Diwali Bayede celebrations the Ondini royal palace to welcome members of the Hindu community.

He also had outreach activities with the Muslim community in the province.

This went a long way towards bridging divides of race, culture and religion that had all too often fuelled hostilities in the province in the past.

He was a bridge builder between traditional communities as well.

He believed that African kingships should unite to confront social ills in our society and conflict on the continent.

His Majesty worked to quell tensions between locals and foreign nationals.

He strongly believed that the country’s laws on migration and employment should be respected; but he also spoke out against violence directed at foreigners.

The late King was a soldier in the war against gender-based violence.

In December last year, he signed a pledge to fight gender-based violence, child abuse and human trafficking.

He championed men’s dialogues as a way of confronting the attitudes and practices that led to the abuse of women and children.

I felt sorry that due to his illness his Majesty did not have had the opportunity to hear the debate last week in the National House of Traditional Leaders where the concept of developmental monarchs was tabled by i Nkosi Mahlangu and Kgoshi Mokoena. He would have rejoiced to hear how our King’s and Queens and traditional leaders are taking the issue of development in the rural areas.

The National House of Traditional Leaders had a most promising and refreshing engagement on how traditional leaders working with government can get involved and drive development in their communities, and in turning rural areas into centres of employment, investment and economic activity.

This is a vision that is aligned to the personality of our departed leader.

We recall how he worked with the provincial government, with national departments, with the private sector and with various development partners on water provision and drought relief, on agriculture and farmer development. He was and on bridging the digital divide between rural and urban areas.

He was a champion of rural development who truly believed in harnessing the potential that rural areas have to offer.

His vision on development was perhaps best articulated by another outstanding son of this province Pixley ka Isaka Seme when he made his historic and iconic speech about the re-generation of Africa at Columbia University when he said:’ The brighter day is rising upon Africa. Already I seem to see her chains dissolved, her desert plains red with harvest, her Abyssinia and her Zululand the seats of science and religion, reflecting the glory of the rising sun from the spires of their churches and universities. Her Congo and her Gambia whitened with commerce, her crowded cities sending forth the hum of business, and all her sons employed in advancing the victories of peace-greater and more abiding than the spoils of war.”

Fellow Mourners,

Today we lay to rest a leader, but also a father, a husband and a grandfather.

The Zulu people are in mourning and we all share in their sorrow.

The passage of time since His Majesty’s passing has seen the national flag being flown at half-mast in tribute to his important role in our society.

This is a profoundly difficult and painful time for the Royal Family and for the Zulu people.

It is a time that should be accorded the necessary occasion and respect.

Colonialism and apartheid sought to pit us against each other, as different tribes and ethnic groups.

The past rulers of our country established the bantustan system. This was a system whose origin was all about oppression, exploitation and division.

They told us it was for our own good, but it was just so they could turn vast parts of the country into labour reserves for their own benefit.

They conferred privileges on some traditional leaders, but denied them to others.

They wanted to manipulate the institution of traditional leadership and turn it into an instrument with which to control the African people.

Through this, they sought to foster tribalism and ethnic chauvinism – and perpetuate the oppression and exploitation of the people of our beautiful country South Africa.

In the face of this relentless onslaught, leaders like King Goodwill Zwelithini stood firm, determined that they should serve their people as their ancestors had done before.

His Majesty has left us, but his legacy lives on.

It is a rich and proud legacy, and one for which he will forever be remembered.

It was Cicero the Greek Philosopher who said “the life given us by nature is short, but the memory of a life well spent as eternal”.

Speaking in the National House of Traditional Leaders last week, I said that one of the great strengths of the institution of traditional leadership is that it has endured over centuries – during times of plenty and of peace, and during times of great hardships and conflict.

As we rebuild our country and restore the livelihoods of our people, we can be certain that the institution of traditional leadership will be a firm ally.

Our nation has suffered a great loss.

But let us pick up his spear and continue on our quest to build a better South Africa.

His majesty had faith in his country and its future. He had the faith to believe that we as a people and as a nation would win the battle for development, progress and social justice. He did believe that we would triumph against poverty, inequality and unemployment. He believed that we would be triumphant against gender based violence and fermicide.

As we say farewell to uBayede, we must remember our responsibility as leaders to heal this land.

Duduzekani Ndlunkulu kaZulu,

The King is not dead. Kings do not die.

Their spirits live with us, fuelling the triumph of their kingdoms.

Like most kings his Majesties demise carried much more and great consequence.

Lapho iNkosi itshalwe khona, komila eminye imithi emikhulu esokhosela ngaphansi kwayo, njengoba besikhosela ku Ngangezwe Lakhe.

To the Royal family Ndlunkulu, thank you for sharing your Father with us.

Kuwo wonke amakhosi nabaholi bamaqembu epolitiki, let us build on the legacy of Imbube, let us unite in the fight against poverty, let us fight against gender-based violence, let us create work and opportunities for our youth.

Usithele umzukulu wamaqhawe.

Use yo hlangana neZilo oDinizulu, uCetshwayo, uMpande, uDingane, iLembe eleqa amanye amaLembe ngoku khalipha, oPhunga noMageba.

As the Black Mambazo sang, kukhon’ ikhaya lama qhawe anqobile, the home of triumphant heroes.

Ku lapho Isilo sesi khona no baba mkhulu.

Hamba kahle Ndlondlo Eno phaphe eKhanda

Wena we Ndlovu

Wena we Ndlovu


Long live the king.


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