When the clouds gathered on Friday afternoon before heavy downpours swept through several parts of Durban, more than 300km away in the royal palace of Kwakhangelamankengane in Nongoma, Amazulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini had just emerged from the sacred ritual known in Isizulu as ukugonqa (seclusion).
The 48-year-old king of Zulu and of Swati royal lineage had spent the past five days away from public view, gearing up for one of the most momentous occasions of his life and the mammoth task of carrying the cultural aspirations of one of the biggest nations on his shoulders.
The last time the Amazulu nation witnessed such a watershed moment was 51 years ago. Misuzulu was only three years old and would have never known that he would one day be accorded the same status as that of his father.
Buzetsheni Mdletshe, a respected praise singer recalled fondly the festivities of 1971 when Misuzulu’s father, Zwelithini, was crowned to succeed king Cyprian kasolomon.
He said while the 1971 coronation was an exciting moment for the villagers, there were also fears that violence might erupt.
“I remember before the ceremony, Izinduna (headmen) had been holding peaceful talks with various amabutho (regiments) and various factions. Leading up to the coronation, there were intense divisions in the royal house over the rightful heir,” Mdletshe said.