Shalo Mbatha, a lecturer at the Department of History at the University of Zululand, recently spoke to Kaya Breakfast on the history of the monarchy and the significance of rituals that happen during the burial of a king.
The conversation gave deeper insight into some of the observations happening this week.
Listen to the conversation here:
Mbatha is the published author of a ground-breaking and best-seller history book about the Zulu nation called ‘uZulu: umlando nobuqhawe bukaZulu.’, as well as his latest one called Zulu Empire, Decolonised.
The Burial of a King
Mbatha highlighted why it’s important for the King’s funeral not to be open to the to the public, and why it’s been kept exclusively for the Royal family for generations.
“His majesty gets buried between sunset and the following day’s sunrise, and those rites are not for public consumption, they are sacred, they only belong to the royal family. Remember this is a King of people who are more than 20 million in Southern Africa and across the world.”
Zulu Empire, Decolonised
She briefly spoke about how important it was to write the book andshared how her book was one of the first to be written in-depth about the monarch from a female perspective. Mbatha felt that it would inspire other groups to write their own history from their own perspectives. The book covered 800 years of Zulu history, long before twhite settlers landed in South Africa.
“My son would ask me questions I could not respond to, like why is there such disparities in the way black people lived and white people lived. This was around 1994. There more I tried to explain it the more he couldn’t understand it because he didn’t grow up under apartheid. There more I tried to get answers the more I realised there was a gap and the information we had was inadequate.”
The Mourning Period
“There are two sets of mourning periods, one for the royal family members and one for his subjects. The subjects have a mourning period for one year… certain thing cannot happen between couples for one year, and the royal family abstain from activities for 12 months.”
She also added that following the mourning period, which will be after a year, the Amabutho [Regiment] will go on a hunting spree, to signal the end of the mourning period. Festivities will follow this, and the royal family will then shave their heads on the 3rd day.