One of Africa’s most legendary monarchies, the Zulu Kingdom, will officially install its king on September 24, 2022 to end South Africa’s latest acrimonious royal feud.
According to oral history, the succession of the Zulu throne was often fierce, chaotic and sometimes bloody. Legendary King Shaka Ka Senzangakhona in 1816 assassinated his brother to ascend the throne.
September 24 is considered Shaka Day, a day in honor of the revered Zulu king when thousands of Zulus visit his graveyard to pay homage to his role in uniting the Zulu kingdom.
Over the weekend, Misuzulu Ka Zwelithini, 47, was crowned Zulu King at Kwakhangelamankengane Royal Palace in South Africa. He succeeded his father, Goodwill Zwelithini, whose 50-year reign ended with his death in March 2021.
The ascension would not have formally cemented its legitimacy without the newly crowned Zulu king performing this important ritual in Zulu culture. It’s the slaying of a lion before entering the royal kraal, the traditional last rite before a public coronation as Zulu king in Durban next month.
Buzetsheni Mdletshe, the king’s praise singer, told the Daily News that King Shaka killed a lion with his own spear before ascending the throne. According to him, although this rite is extremely important in cementing the authority of a Zulu king, Misuzulu is the third royal to have honored this ritual.
He recalled that King Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu before his coronation also killed a lion to follow the almost forgotten plan laid down by King Shaka.
The King’s Praise Singer said that lions are spiritually regarded as kings in Zulu culture, therefore killing a lion before ascending the throne signifies that the successor has killed another king. He will wear the skin of the slain lion to inform the Zulu community that he is the chosen one, quelling any rebellion or doubt that will be raised before his official coronation on September 24.
He explained that cows must be slaughtered to purify the newly crowned king after killing a lion.
The king’s next ceremony after the purification is for him to enter the sacred cattle kraal to engage spiritually with the ancestors before his exterior as the new Zulu king.
The Zulu Kingdom is famous for the Battle of Isandlwana where they defeated British troops in 1879.