Amazulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini has cut short the traditional reed dance following Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s death on Saturday.
Misuzulu was speaking on the first day of the yearly event at the Enyokeni Royal House in KwaNongoma, northern KwaZulu-Natal.
The news of Zulu traditional prime minister Buthelezi’s death at his KwaPhindangene homestead in the morning overshadowed the solemn occasion.
Misuzulu stood by with an empty chair on his right side, symbolising the collapse of his and the nation’s prime minister.
The reed dance was shortened to honour the nation’s prime minister, with just KwaZulu-Natal EDTEA MEC Siboniso Duma and the king presenting short speeches.
The king’s statement that there will be no second day was the biggest difference to this year’s celebration.
“To respect the prince (Buthelezi) we decided with the premier (Nomusa Dube-Ncube) to cancel tomorrow’s edition of the dance. Tomorrow will be the day we go home to respect the situation we’re faced with so we are closing today. We will come back next year.”
He said it was tradition that proceedings don’t continue as normal in situations like these.
Misuzulu praised Buthelezi for his “honest service” to the nation and the royal house and added that they had big plans ahead.
“What he (Buthelezi) has done, not just for the royal house … his integrity and always standing up for the truth until the end. What befell us today as a Zulu nation is unusual so I’m mourning with you and the whole nation.
“We had a lot of the nation’s work lined up that I don’t know how I will do without him. I will also have sleepless nights because we worked very well with him (Buthelezi) until the end.”
Dube-Ncube and several amakhosi missed the reed dance to attend to the Buthelezi family.