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Author: Mangosuthu G. Buthelezi
Title: Inkatha, "Zuluness" and the historians
Publication info: Ann Arbor, Michigan: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library

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Source: Inkatha, "Zuluness" and the historians
Mangosuthu G. Buthelezi

Evanston, IL: Program of African Studies, Northwestern University
no. 4, pp. 9, 1992

SPEECHES: Inkatha, "Zuluness" and the Historians

The following is a speech given by Mangosuthu G. Buthelezi, President of the Inkatha Freedom Party and Chief Minister of KwaZulu, at the annual celebration of King Shaka Day on the 21st of September 1991 in Stanger, in the Republic of South Africa.

Mr. Masters of Ceremonies, Reverend the Honourable C.J. Mtetwa and Dr. the Honourable T.T. Mdlalose; His Majesty the King of the Zulus; their Majesties the Queens and the King's Immediate family; other colleagues in the KwaZulu Cabinet and other members of the Legislative Assembly; the Honourable Consul-General Mr. Myrick and other Honourable members of the Consular Corps; the Mayor and Councillors of Stanger; the Venerable Archdeacon P. Ntombela and other Ministers of Religion present; our guests Lord and Lady Lee; Dr. and Mrs. Sal Marzullo and other distinguished guests present; leaders of Inkatha Freedom Party and of other organisations present; my brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of Africa.

Every year when I come to speak at a Shaka Day celebration here at Stanger, I am made aware of how important this place is in the history of the Zulu people. It was King Shaka who conquered and ruled so that the millions who are now here living today would have a place in the world of which they are proud.

King Shaka did not found his empire for himself. He worked for his people, he conquered for his people and he ruled for his people that they may be secure and may live out their lives in a protected environment.

The strife that is so tearing Black families apart and which is so pitting Black Zulu brother against Black Zulu brother, really shames the very memory of King Shaka. He and the long line of illustrious Kings who followed after him, and who are represented here today by His Majesty the King of the Zulus, strove in all they did to bring people together and to make them live together in harmony.

The great unity that there was amongst Zulus down through the ages is a unity that we desperately need today. We need unity for every son and daughter of KwaZulu and we need unity for the sake of South Africa itself, and for the sake of the justice which must now come in the new political dispensation. We need this unity not to gang up as Zulus against anyone, but in order to make our contribution to the birth of peace in our Region and in the rest of South Africa and towards the birth of a new South Africa.

On this day when we remember who we are and where we came from, and we remember how great were the exploits of our founding King, King Shaka ka Senzangakhona, conquered wherever he went, and wherever he went he united people.

We know this because we have learnt it from our grandparents who learnt it from their grandparents who learnt it from those who were alive when King Shaka conquered and united and established his empire. They were alive when King Shaka pressed as far south as the Umzumbuvu River and conquered far to the north into what is now Moçambique and the Transvaal.

All history records the greatness of King Shaka's exploits. All the colonial powers who were involved in Southern Africa, have written histories in which the greatness of King Shaka is recorded.

Quite independently of the history of KwaZulu itself and quite independently of the history of our illustrious Zulu Kings who followed in King Shaka's footsteps, there is the history of Moçambique and there is the history of Zimbabwe which also tells of the great unifying forces which came forth out of KwaZulu.

When Soshangane left KwaZulu to cross the Lebombo mountains and journey northwards and eastwards into what is now Moçambique, he took with him some thousands of Zulu warriors who also conquered where they went, and who also united wherever they conquered.

Just as our Kings produced the unity of the people in KwaZulu, so Soshangane produced the unity of the people of the Shangaan nation which came into existence because he had that Zulu power in him to unite and so join those he united that they became invincible before all their foes.

Then we also have the history of Mzilikazi who travelled westwards and northwards to the Transvaal and ended up founding the Ndebele people of Zimbabwe. They too were so united that they became invincible to all their foes. Zwangendaba went to Malawi and founded the Angonis of Malawi and the Angonis of Zmabia. H.E. President Kamuzu Banda of Malawi told me when he arranged for me to go to Embangweni, to visit Nkosi Yamakhosi Mbelwa II, that the work Angoni is a corruption of the word Abengoni.

Whether we are talking about the unity of the people in KwaZulu, or we are talking about the unity of the Shangane people, or we are talking about the unity of the Ndebele people, we are talking about the genius that is in we Zulus to bring about unity. All the Ndebele people know that they are one people with us. All the Shangane people know that they are one people with us. All the Angoni people know that they are one people with us.

When I visited President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia last year, as I was having supper with my colleagues who accompanied me to Zambia, a message came from State House from President Kaunda, that I must switch on the TV and see my people. I was of course watching the TV programme at that time, as Paramount Chief Mphenzeni of the Angonis of Zambia was on the screen, celebrating the Ceremony of first fruits, Umkhosi Wokweshwama which they brought with them from KwaZulu when their forbears migrated north.

I was thus totally astounded to read what Professor Shula Marks had to say about our Zulu commitment to unity and to our culture we experience today.

She says that these commitments come from the fact that we felt threatened and we actually reinvented history so that we could paint a picture of Zulu unity. In a British Broadcasting Corporation radio interview, she said: "The Zulu today tend to see Shaka as their Napoleon, the great conquering hero." And later she says: "I think that all real rediscoveries of roots are reinventions and I think one has to look to the creation of a new history and a call on tradition by Inkatha as very much rooted in present needs and concerns ..."

I really am astounded. Every year we come together to find unity in our numbers and to find strength in that unity because we remember who we are and where we came from. Professor Shula Marks now has the audacity to stand there and tell us that we are reinventing history because we have a need for a certain image now.

It does not always take a Zulu to understand Zulu history but if there are any reinventions of history, reinterpretation will come from those who try to reinvent history and reinterpret history to cause our political defeat and our humiliation.

I always say that those who cannot understand politics today, really cannot understand the history of yesterday. Professor Shula Marks says that what she calls "the warfare" which has "plagued Natal for the past six years, since the mid-1980s, has actually been between Zulus over what it means to be a Zulu."

There is no recognition that Zulus have been attacked by political leaders because they are leaders who wanted the Zulu might to be brought behind their revolutionary endeavours. There was no perception by Professor Marks that the terrible carnage and killing that has taken place between Zulu and Zulu has been instigated for political reasons by politicians who want to destroy our unity so that they can scheme and work their advantage amongst us. The people who triggered off the violence in the greater Durban area in August 1988 were not even Zulu-speaking.

We who are Zulus know that we never fight about our Zuluness. Some who forget that they are Zulus can fight against their brother because they want to achieve their own political ends. Down through the ages we have always had those who are prepared to do this, and down through the ages Zulus have always closed ranks against them.

I am, in fact, puzzled by the academic Anglo-Zulu war that is going on just now at most of the English Universities in South Africa, and which is backed by certain Academics in the United Kingdom. There seems to be a campaign to scale down Zulus as Zulus, and concerted efforts to re-invent Zulu history. There is an effort to write what is now supposed to be a 'Proper History' of the Zulu people, which is no more than propaganda against the Zulu people in favour of certain political organisations.

It is because I regard this place where we have erected a monument to King Shaka as so very important, that I am exhorting you here today to make the Peace Accord actually work on the ground. You will all know that I signed the National Peace Accord last Saturday the 14th September, as did the State President Mr. FW de Klerk, Dr. Nelson Mandela and some 20 other political parties and organisations.

Let this place move faster than other places. Let this place prepare to establish the Peace Accord. Come together in this place more easily and faster than people come together in other places to make the Accord work. Honour the memory of our great founding King, King Shaka, who so united us that all history will never tear us apart again.

Nothing on God's earth is powerful enough to destroy the identity of the Zulu people. We are here because history brought us here and we will go into the future because history will take us into the future. This is a place which must work for the future that we want our children to enjoy. This is a place that must establish the kind of thrusts and the power in politics which can not only win against racism and fear, but can go on to mount victories against poverty, ignorance and disease. We accept that we will always have our own defectors. But the Zulu people as Zulu people will resist with all the might at their command, any efforts to divide or dismantle them from whatever quarter such efforts emanate from.

Every fight we now have between us, and every conflict in which Black brother kills Black brother here in KwaZulu, is a fight and a conflict which undermines the foundations on which we will have to build a democracy after apartheid. When therefore I ask you to make the National Peace Accord work in this district, I am asking you to do something for democracy and for justice and for this future of our children.

It is now my privilege to present you our Monarch, the son of King Cyprian Bhekuzulu, the son of King Solomon, the son of King Dinizulu, the son of King Cetshwayo, the son of King Mpande, son of Senzangakhona and brother of King Dingane and of King Shaka, the founder of the Zulu Nation.

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