Mourners from all walks of life gathered in South Africa on Saturday to pay their respects to Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, a prominent Zulu prince who led his people for close to 60 years.
Buthelezi, 95, passed away in his home in Ulundi in the KwaZulu-Natal province on Wednesday this week.
He was an iconic leader of the Zulu people, and a strong voice for traditional African culture and values in South Africa. He is remembered for his contribution to political stability at a critical time for the new democracy after apartheid ended in the early 90s.
However, he was a controversial figure in South African politics throughout his career, earning both criticism and praise for his conservative attitude towards social change.
The ceremony on Saturday was held at his palace in Ulundi and was attended by traditional royal dancers and large crowds waving flags of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), which Buthelezi was a leader of.
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa was also present and addressed the crowd, highlighting Buthelezi’s immense contribution to maintaining political stability during a difficult period in the country’s history.
“Prince Buthelezi’s legacy will remain with us for generations to come,” he said.
Buthelezi’s remains will then be taken to KwaKhethomthandayo Royal Palace in Nongoma, where he will receive a traditional burial on Sunday.
Although Buthelezi will be remembered for his political leadership—having held various influential political positions—many will likely also remember him for his cultural preservation efforts, such as his dedication to preserving Zulu regalia and traditional practices. His death marks the passing of an era, as the nation moves forward into an uncertain future.