By Penelope Paliani-Kamanga
Ntcheu - Malawi’s king, Paramount Chief Gomani V of the Maseko Ngoni, on Saturday November, 2, 2019 wedded his long time sweetheart, Rishaladza Khanyisa Mathebula, from South Africa, in a celebration that brought together Southern African delegates.
The wedding, that was celebrated at the royal district of Ntcheu in central Malawi, saw dignitaries from South Africa, where the bride hails from, Zambia, Mozambique, Eswatini and Zimbabwe.
Other high profile figures that attended the wedding included the country’s First Lady, Gertrude Mutharika, Vice President Everton Chimulirenji, as well as former vice president Saulos Chilima and his wife, and opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera.
The delegates had come to celebrate both the Umhlangano wa Angoni and the royal wedding of their Inkosi ya Makosi Gomani V.
A delegate from Mozambique, Juao Vasshi, said this was the best place and opportunity for the unity of Africa, particularly Southern Africa.
“I am happy that the wedding and the Unmlangano has united us all and I have been able to interact with people from different countries, more so because we share the same cultures and values,” he said.
After presiding over this year’s Umhlangano on Friday, the Inkosi wedded Rishaladza who is also from the Gomani clan in South Africa.
One of the members of the royal family, Owen Gomani, said this was a joyful moment for the Ngoni people, as their kingdom was growing.
“You will see that this year’s Umhlangano is special in the sense that we are celebrating the wedding of Ngwenyama himself. The queen is also one of our own from South Africa where we came from,” he said.
The king’s elder father, Samson Gomani Chikuse, speaking at the wedding’s colouful reception, said the queen’s arrival into the family was a joyous moment for the royal family.
”We, as Ngoni people, have been waiting for her for long and in our tradition and culture, a Ngoni chief needs a wife by his side to help him in many ways,” he said.
Gomani Chikuse said that the royal family was happy that the king married a woman of his choice.
Father of the bride, Mathebula, said that they had unknowingly raised their daughter befitting the title of a queen.
“I am happy to say that my daughter deserves to be called a queen,” he said.
Born Willard Gomani, the Ngwenyama is the fifth in the line of Maseko Ngoni chieftaincy.
Maseko Ngonis originated from Kwazulu-Natal in the Usutu valley that stretches between South Africa and Eswatini.
Mathebula was born on February 29, 1996 and she hails from Giyani, Limpopo Province of South Africa.
Mathebula arrived in the country in style a few weeks ago to prepare for her wedding to the Ngoni king.
The inkosikati told the media that, as queen of the Ngoni, she will be encouraging young girls to remain in school.
Inkosi Willard Gomani V took over the reins of power in 2009 after the death of his father who had only been on the throne for one year.
Umhlangano wa Angoni, started on Friday with Nkhwisulo where the Ngoni offer sacrifices to their departed forefathers, especially Inkosi ya Makosi Gomani I.
Speaking during the Nkhwisulo, Inkosi Njolomole said Umhlangano was an all-important function as the Ngoni of Gomani Maseko honours their forefathers.
“The beers and the cow we have slaughtered here are aimed at ensuring that the spirits of our forefathers have a chance to enjoy what we are enjoying out here. We killed the cow with a spear to depict the life of paramount chief Gomani Chikuse I who was a true Ngoni,” he said.
The word ‘Umhlangano’ means coming together and this is the time all the Ngoni of Gomani Maseko come together to celebrate their departed forefathers, especially Chikuse who was killed in 1896.