Thousands fete South Africa’s new Zulu king

Thousands fete South Africa’s new Zulu king

Thousands fete South Africa’s new Zulu king

Thousands of people gathered at the Zulu royal palace in South Africa on Aug. 20 to witness the crowning of a new king in the country’s richest and most influential traditional monarchy.

Misuzulu Zulu, 47, ascended to the throne once held by his late father, Goodwill Zwelithini, during traditional ceremonies that were partially overshadowed by a bitter succession dispute.

“Today the Zulu nation starts a new chapter,” the new sovereign told well-wishers speaking from a podium in a large white marquee, wearing a traditional leopard skin and a necklace of predator claws.

“I promise I will work to unite the Zulu nation.”

Although the title of king does not bestow executive power, the monarchs wield great moral influence over more than 11 million Zulus, who make up nearly a fifth of South Africa’s population.

From early morning, men and women in colorful traditional outfits started to assemble outside the marble palace on the hills of Nongoma, a small town in the southeastern province of KwaZulu-Natal, the Zulu heartland, to honor the new monarch.

“It’s a great day, we are making history,” Bongani Khumalo, 80, who is part of the regiments of warriors in charge of protecting the king, told AFP.

Amid the festivities, however, an acrimonious family dispute over the throne raged.

As celebrations got underway, an eleventh-hour legal appeal from a branch of the royal family to block all ceremonies was struck down by a court, local media reported.

In Nongoma, lines of Zulu warriors, known as amaButhos and holding spears and shields of animal skin, marched into the palace grounds.

For hours they enacted war dances under the warm winter sun waiting for the king to appear.

In keeping with tradition, he had killed a lion a few days before the ceremony.

Zulu King,