South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa paid final tribute on Thursday to the late Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, who died last week.
King Zwelithini was buried early Thursday in a private ceremony in the presence of his family and very close friends.
King Zwelithini was the longest-serving Zulu monarch, reigning for more than five decades.
President Ramaphosa expresses his condolences to the Zulu nation, saying: “It is a difficult day because a huge tree has fallen. Our nation is indeed in mourning.
In a tweet the leader said: “The King is not dead. Kings do not die.”
King Zwelithini died at the age of 72 last week in the eastern city of Durban, after weeks of treatment for a diabetes-related illness.
His remains were laid to rest at his birthplace, the small southeastern town of Nongoma in KwaZulu-Natal province.
His role was largely spiritual and ceremonial, and although he had received criticism from South African authorities, he kept his popularity among the Zulu people.
King Zwelithini basked in the legacy of famous and defiant Zulu kings – his ancestors – who inflicted one of the British Empire’s worst defeats in 1879.
But he was also divisive, accused of playing into the hands of the apartheid system’s fight against the then-banned African National Congress party, which opposed white minority rule.
An elderly resident, who could not state his age but said he was an age-mate of the king’s father Fanyana Zwane, said he fondly remembered the monarch as a little boy who enjoyed collecting honey in the bush.
Later, he recalls him as a “forgiving disciplinarian,” he told AFP. – Rédaction Africanews/AFP