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We are one people: Cultural activists laud Zulu King unity talks

Zulu King, Misuzulu ka Zwelithini who was crowned Saturday in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, has called for the unity of the Nguni people in that country and those living in neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe.

Matabeleland is home to thousands whose roots are in South Africa following the migration of King Mzilikazi in1840s to Zimbabwe to form the Ndebele State.

While South Africa recognises monarchs, Zimbabwe’s constitution only recognises chiefs, and efforts to resuscitate the Ndebele monarchy have been met with strong resistance from the state.

Speaking during an occasion to mark his coronation at KwaKhangelamankengane Palace, where he entered the sacred cattle kraal to invoke his ancestors before being announced to both the living and the dead as the new Zulu monarch, King Misuzulu said it was important for people who originate from Zululand to unite

“We are the ones in the whole of Africa with nations outside the country as you can see there are people from Zambia,” said the King.

“There are those in Zimbabwe and Eswatini. Even in Mozambique, there are people from KwaZulu. All those people, we would like them to meet with them and unite.”

Corah Ndebele of the 1893 Mthwakazi Restoration Movement (MRM) said the King’s remarks point to the strong historical connections between the people of Matabeleland and KwaZulu-Natal

“It is something known the world over that Mzilikazi left Zululand and came to settle here in Zimbabwe,” said Ndebele.

“Many people originate from KwaZulu and because of migration they moved to other places within the Southern African region. Unity is very important as far as our culture is concerned. There is nothing wrong with us uniting and visiting one another. She added: “There is the Mhlahlandlela festival held in commemoration of King Mzilikazi’s death. It would be good that people from KwaZulu, Zambia and others come and become party of the festival. This is our culture.”

Ibhetshu LikaZulu secretary, Mbuso Fuzwayo said the unity called for by the new Zulu King was purely for cultural purposes.

“The issue is cultural,” he told CITE.

“The Nguni across the divide should come together for cultural exchange.”

Prince Zwide Khumalo of King Lobengula’s Royal Trust also said the remarks by the Zulu King were important.

“The starting point is that we have the same origin; we are all of a Nguni nationality,” he said.

“We are only separated by geographic boundaries. Because of migration issues of Mfecane the likes of Sotshangane, Zwangendaba and Mzilikazi left Zululand and moved northwards. So we have the same origin and the issue of unity and the expression of a need for that is because we have the same cultural identity and same value systems.”

He explained further: “Our customs and lifestyles are not very different because of that similar origin. It makes sense that we must know one another and establish links.

You would find that for example those in Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania have lost their language and the Shangaan in Mozambique have lost the Zulu language because of movement and mixing with other tribes. However, as the Ndebele we have been lucky because we have retained other than losing the intonation and pronunciation, we have retained the Zulu language and we have even retained certain Zulu words that are no longer used in Zululand but we have them here. For instance, if you are to take uchago (milk) that side they call it ubisi, which is originally a Sotho word.“

He said there is a need to maintain those links purely from an identity or cultural point of view

However, social commentator, Qalani Nhliziyo said the King’s remarks imply the Zulu monarchy considers itself international.

“The Zulu monarchy is implying it is international and those who fled must be reunified and reintegrated into the kingdom and he mentioned the countries where Zulu people are domiciled,” said Nhliziyo.

“This is going to historically undo Mfecane which happened two centuries ago through the aggression of the Zulu founding king, Tshaka himself. Now Misuzulu has been advised that the unity of all the Nguni can actually strengthen the Zulu domination in South Africa over other nations like the Afrikaans, Venda, Xhosa, Sotho and others – and the Zulu will emerge as one of the greatest kingdoms with a majority of voters and can impose itself over South Africa.”

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