Celebrating King Zwelithini on his birthday: A look at the life of the late Zulu King

Celebrating King Zwelithini on his birthday: A look at the life of the late Zulu King

Today, 14 July, would have been the 73rd birthday of late Zulu King Zwelithini.

PAY ATTENTION: Click “See First” under the “Following” tab to see Briefly.co.za News on your News Feed!

In honour of his birthday, Briefly News decided to take a look at the life of the late royal and his legacy.

Early life and education

Goodwill Zwelithini was born on 14 July, 1948, in Nongoma, Natal - now known as KwaZulu-Natal - to King Cyprian Bhekuzulu kaSolomon and his second wife, Queen Thomo.

He was King Bhekuzulu and his wife's eldest son and heir to the throne. King Zwelithini attended the Bekezulu College of Chiefs and there after was privately tutored, according to SA History Online.

Becoming the Zulu king in his 20s

After his father's death in 1968, the then 20-year-old King Zwelithini wasn't immediately appointed new ruler. Instead a regent was chosen and King Zwelithini continued his studies.

Read also

Alick Macheso age, family, houses and cars, songs, properties, worth

Three years later, in 1971, he was officially crowned in front of 20 000 people.

One of South Africa's most famous polygamists and father to 28 children

During his lifetime, King Zwelithini had six wives. He took his first wife at the age of 21, two years before he was installed as the eighth monarch of the Zulus.

From his six marriages King Zwelithini fathered 28 children.

Sibongile Winifred Dlamini, known to many as maDlamini or Queen Dlamini, was King Zwelithini first wife. They got married on 27th December 1969, and their marriage of forty-five years gave rise to five children, although her eldest son Lethukuthula Zulu passed on last year.

In 1974, King Zwelithini tied the knot to Buhle KaMathe. According to reports, the late king paid 150 head of cattle lobola for Buhle's hand in marriage and the couple had eight children together.

Read also

Prince Zulu: "King Misuzulu’s blood is bigger than we think"

Queen Mantfombi Dlamini was King Zwelithini's third wife and the sister to King Mswati III. They got married in 1977 and had eight children.

In 1988, Thandekile "Thandi" Jane Ndlovu became King Zwelithini's fourth wife. They had two daughters and a son together.

Four years later, King Zwelithini took his fifth wife, Nompumelelo Mchiza. They were married for nearly three decades and had three children. Mchiza resided at the Enyokeni Palace, which is regarded as the King’s “traditional” palace and hosts the Umhlanga Reed dance every September.

Thirty-five-year-old Zola Zelusiwe Mafu is King Zwelithini's sixth and last wife. She was selected to become the king's wife when she was seventeen, and for the past seven years, she has lived in one of the royal homes. Queen Zola is the mother of the youngest King Zwelithini children, Prince Nhlendla.

PAY ATTENTION: Never miss breaking news – join Briefly News' Telegram channel

Read also

King Misuzulu Zulu bio: age, wife, education, latest news

Lavish lifestyle of King Zwelithini and his wives

Zwelithini has come under fire in the past for reckless spending and a lavish lifestyle. He has defended himself by stating her requires the exorbitant budget because it was derived from the tax revenue his subjects generate.

In 2018, King Zwelithini's budget was bumped up to R7 million. That same year he splashed a lot of money on an extravagant 70th birthday bash.

The lavish birthday parties were often accompanied by luxury gifts. Briefly News previously reported Businessman Ibrahim Yusuf gave the king a luxurious Lexus SUV as thanks for backing his circumcision device. The vehicle is worth close to R1 million, according to a report by The South African. Jacob Mnisi, also a businessman, gave the Zulu king very expensive bottles of champagne and whisky on his 69th birthday.

Read also

List of King Zwelithini wives and children (with images)

Julius Malema gave the king a bull and 4 pregnant cows for his birthday. President Cyril Ramaphosa gave the king Ankole cows as a gift after he was elected as the president of South Africa.

Celebrating King Zwelithini on his birthday: A look at the life of the late Zulu King
King Zwelithini with Julius Malema. Photo: City Press / Gallo Images / Getty.
Source: Getty Images

In 2012, King Zwelithini raised eyebrows when he asked to KZN government for a staggering R18 million to build new properties. According to Wikipedia, R6m of the money would have gone to a palace for his youngest wife, Mafu.

He also wanted R20 million for renovations on Queen Mchiza's home. His wives also came under fire after they splurged R350 000 on linen, couture clothes and luxury vacations, according to BBC.

King Zwelithini's controversial statements

King Zwelithini has had his fair share of controversy. In January, 2012, he came under fire for calling same-sex relationships "rotten". Then-President Jacob Zuma reprimanded the Zulu King over his remarks. However, King Zwelithini's household defended the by claiming his statements were taken mistranslated.

Read also

Jacob Zuma's fourth wife, Gloria Bongekile Ngema, biography

According to the statement, the King didn't condemn same-sex relationships, he merely voiced his concerns over the state of moral decay in the country.

In March, 2015, King Zwelithini, said during the Phongolo UPhongolo Local Municipality community meeting that foreigners should return home because they are competing with Saffas for jobs.

His statements were labeled xenophobic by the SAHRC and slammed by the DA as "highly irresponsible," especially since tensions were already high between locals and foreigners.

Celebrating King Zwelithini on his birthday: A look at the life of the late Zulu King
King Zwelithini during the annual Reed Dance at Enyokeni Royal Palace on September 07, 2019 in Nongoma. Photo: Sandile Ndlovu / Sowetan / Gallo Images via Getty.
Source: Getty Images

Health issues and deathHealth issues and death

In February, Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has been admitted to hospital and is being treated for his diabetes in the ICU ward.

IFP MP Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi revealed the Zulu King had been admitted to hospital after a blood test revealed "several unstable glucose readings" over the last couple of weeks.

Sadly, his condition quickly deteriorated and King Zwelithini passed away on 12 March, 2021, at the age of 72.

Read also

Facts about the personal life of Mxolisi Zuma and his corrupt acts

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, shared a statement that revealed the passing of the Zulu king, which took place while he was still in hospital.

Shortly after the king's passing, President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed that he would be honoured with a Special Official Funeral Category One funeral.

Legacy and successor

King Zwelithini's wife, Queen Mantfombi, was named regent following his death. She became the regent until an official successor is named.

However, not even a month after her husband's passing, Queen Mantfombi died.

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi confirmed the news in a statement:

“It is with the deepest shock and distress that the royal family announces the unexpected passing of Her Majesty Queen Shiyiwe Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu, regent of the Zulu nation.

Enjoyed reading our story? Download BRIEFLY's news app on Google Play now and stay up-to-date with major South African news!

Source: Briefly News

Online view pixel