" "

South Africa pays respects to controversial Zulu leader Buthelezi at state funeral

0 64

South Africa bid farewell to Zulu prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi in a state funeral held today. The funeral drew mourners from across the nation to honor a powerful yet divisive leader whose legacy remains hotly contested.

Prince Buthelezi, the founder of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), passed away at the age of 95, leaving behind a complex legacy deeply intertwined with the turbulent history of South Africa’s transition to democracy.

Mourners clad in black attire and Zulu warrior headbands converged at a small stadium in Ulundi, the ancient capital of the Zulu kingdom and the heartland of the IFP. Among them was Bonga Makhoba, who drove 150 kilometers (93 miles) and spent the night in his car to pay his respects. “He treated all of us Zulus as one person. That is why I am here,” said Makhoba. “I just respect him, and I want him to rest in peace.”

The ceremony featured white marquees for dignitaries, with a black canopy at the center to house the casket of Prince Buthelezi. President Cyril Ramaphosa, who ordered flags to be flown at half-staff nationwide, will deliver a eulogy during the service.

Ramaphosa spoke of Buthelezi’s significant role in South Africa’s political and cultural life, from the liberation struggle to the nation’s ongoing journey. “Buthelezi has been an outstanding leader in the political and cultural life of our nation, including the ebbs and flows of our liberation struggle,” Ramaphosa stated when announcing Buthelezi’s passing.

Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s political journey was marked by both cooperation and conflict. He was once a rival of both President Ramaphosa and the late Nelson Mandela during the negotiations to end white rule in South Africa. His bitter rivalry with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) led him to break away from the party, forming the Inkatha movement in 1975.

Born into royalty, Buthelezi was seen by some as the embodiment of the Zulu spirit—proud and resilient. Yet, others viewed him as a strongman. As the premier of the “independent” homeland of KwaZulu, a creation of the apartheid government, he was sometimes perceived as an ally of the racist regime.

Buthelezi vehemently denied allegations of collaborating with the apartheid government to incite violence and undermine the ANC’s liberation efforts. Tragically, violence between Inkatha supporters and rival liberation groups claimed the lives of approximately 12,000 people in the lead-up to South Africa’s democratic elections in 1994.

In a surprising turn of events, Buthelezi later served as the home affairs minister in the national unity government led by Mandela, showcasing his adaptability and political influence. His slender frame, distinctive rectangular glasses, and charismatic oratory skills made him one of the nation’s longest-serving politicians.

However, Prince Buthelezi’s legacy remains a subject of intense debate, with some viewing him as a statesman who protected Zulu culture and others questioning his historical role and affiliations. As South Africa reflects on his passing, the nation grapples with the complex and contested legacy left behind by this influential leader.

About Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © All rights reserved.