The Buganda kingdom has mourned the passing of Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu, King of the Zulu Nation.
His Majesty King Goodwill passed on yesterday at Inkosi Albert Luthuli hospital where he was admitted there last month to be treated for diabetes.
“I announce to you the death of King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, the King of the Zulu Nation.” Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga said.
Katikkiro said the deceased was a friend to his highness the Kabaka of Buganda Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II. He also attended the royal wedding of Kabaka Mutebi and her highness Nnabagereka Sylvia Nagginda in August 1999.
Born on July 14, 1948, he was the eighth monarch of the Zulu nation, South Africa’s largest ethnic group, and a direct descendant of the Zulu warrior kings who fought against colonial rule. The eldest son of King Cyprian Bhekuzulu ka Solomon and his second wife, Queen Thomozile Jezangani ka Ndwandwe, he was educated at the Bekezulu College of Chiefs and then privately tutored at the Khethomthandayo royal palace.
He was crowned in 1971, three years after the death of his father; subsequent assassination attempts had forced him into hiding. When he was able to take the throne, his role was largely ceremonial as head of a quasi-independent homeland under the apartheid government.
During the 1980s and ’90s, as violence in the KwaZulu region threatened to upend South Africa’s transition to democracy, the king was at times a voice of peace and dissent in the negotiations.
During his 50-year reign, King Zwelithini played a crucial role in cultural programs and initiatives aimed at promoting social inclusion and cohesion among diverse groups. He was a leader who encouraged health education, especially as a strong ally of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in the fight against HIV/AIDS and in South Africa’s response to #Covid-19.