Zulu Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Dies at 95
11:03 09.09.2023 (Updated: 17:10 12.09.2023)
Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the traditional prime minister of the Zulu people, South Africa's largest ethnic group with an estimated 11 million people, making up nearly a fifth of the country's population, has had a long political career spanning the dawn of apartheid and its demise.
According to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the revered prime minister of the Zulu royal family, passed away on Saturday. This occurred merely two weeks after he celebrated his 95th birthday.
''I am deeply saddened to announce the passing of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi,'' Ramaphosa wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
ccording to a statement released by his family, Buthelezi died 'quietly and painlessly'.
South Africa's president described Buthelezi
as "an outstanding leader in the political and cultural life" including throughout the nation's struggle against the apartheid regime.
Born in 1928 in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal, Buthelezi came from a distinguished Zulu royal family. His mother, Princess Magogo kaDinzulu, was not only the sister of the Zulu king but also a celebrated singer of traditional songs.
During apartheid, the prince was the Chief Minister of the KwaZulu Bantustan, a territory allocated to the Zulu by the apartheid government. Buthelezi founded the Inkatha National Cultural Liberation Movement (now known as the Inkatha Freedom Party since 1994), with the goal of promoting the welfare of South Africa's black majority.
In the 1980s, Buthelezi voiced his criticism towards the African National Congress (ANC). Among the issues that fueled their differences was the topic of international sanctions, leading to a heated confrontation. However, as time went on, Inkatha and the ANC managed to discover shared interests and pave the way for mutual agreement.
Buthelezi advocated for the freedom of Nelson Mandela, the leader of the ANC, who was imprisoned at the time. Upon Mandela's ascension to the presidency in 1994, the Zulu prince was bestowed with the position of Minister of Home Affairs, committing himself to this role for a span of ten years.
In 2019, Chief Buthelezi announced that he would not seek re-election as the Inkatha president. He stepped down after 44 years in the position.
Buthelezi, who had eight children, is survived by two daughters and a son. Buthelezi also left a Guinness record: he went down in history with the longest speech ever delivered.
"He gave an address to the KwaZulu legislative assembly between 12 and 29 March 1993. He spoke on 11 of the 18 days, averaging nearly 2.5 hours on each of the 11 days," the Guinness Book of Records said.
President Ramaphosa has promised to explore the remarkable life of the Zulu leader and his varied contributions to the country more thoroughly in due course.