11 September 2016

South Africa: Zulu King Fumes At Gender Equality Commission

Photo: IRIN
The annual reed dance (file photo).

The Commission for Gender Equality, which recently ruled that the controversial "Maidens Bursary Award" was unlawful, unfair, unreasonable and unconstitutional, and should be discontinued, has ignited the full wrath of King Goodwill Zwelithini.

Zwelithini, who was addressing more than 30 000 young women and dignitaries at the 2016 Umkhosi woMhlanga at Enyokeni Royal Palace in Nongoma Saturday night, pulled no punches when he laid into critics of the reed dance and virginity testing, branding them hypocrites.

It was a clear reference to the commission, which called for the bursary scheme awarded to young women in the Uthekela District Municipality for remaining virgins, to be scrapped.

As a condition of receiving the bursary, young women had to undergo virginity testing every school holiday. Should they be found to have lost their virginity, the bursary would be taken away.

The bursaries were given to the girls during the Mayoral Matric Excellence Awards, where 100 matriculants, including those who were not virgins, received awards for excelling in their matric exams.

Respecting the Zulu nation

Zwelithini said critics recently said the reed dance was abusing the rights of young women.

"They said we should not allow children under a certain age to come to the reed dance... Where are these 'know it alls' when we hear that there is a place where there are many young women being impregnated by older men? The girls are only 22 year-old. It's disgusting and a disgrace," he said.

He said South Africans needed to decide who kept their children safe from diseases and temptations in the world.

"These organisations, looting money with spades... talk too much. They don't even know about the kingdom or what the reed dance is about. They know nothing about us. They do not have Ubuntu because they don't know what they are talking about."

He said the monarch had extended an invitation to the commission to attend the reed dance so that it could write "factual information" about the Zulu culture.

He asked the young women if they had been dragged to the reed dance and they said they had attended willingly.

"Must they [the commission] jump off a cliff?" Zwelithini asked?

"Yes, they must jump off a cliff!" the young women responded.

Zwelithini said the commission should respect the Zulu nation.

"If they were established to fight with us then they must come to the palace and tell us, we know war."

The king asked the young women again if someone had held a gun to their heads and "shoved" them into the buses and the young women said no one had.

"No gun went off? You went into the buses willingly and you should come in your millions next year to send a clear message to the whole world.

"If the Commission for Gender Equality respects you and itself, it will stop being hypocrites... seeking attention in the media by using the Zulu nation. We are tired. We are going to ask it to come here to come and see for itself what happens here."

Zwelithini went on to say, "Why are they afraid of coming here? Instead they keep poking us in the eye. You know what happens when you keep poking someone's eye? One day they will tell you to Fuck Off. I am tired."

Provoked

He told the young women that in the past he agreed to be governed when he was a king.

"I can still say today that I don't want to be governed and I want to govern myself. I can say that now and it will happen."

He said critics were welcome to visit the royal family.

"I am saying that because I can see that there are people who are very busy trying to be famous using our name. We made our name in 1879, we don't want war, don't force us to go there."

He said he was not being compensated by anyone in South Africa.

"If South Africa thinks that it can stand on its own without the Zulu nation, it is lying to itself. There is no South Africa without us. Please don't provoke us because we'll reach boiling point..."

He said he was saying this because the nation was being provoked.

"The other day someone said we must do away with Ilobolo... This was apparently in an international newspaper. They know more about us than we do. I was wondering why would I even say that, but they were successful because the matter was abuzz on social media."

He said there had been several attempts to divide the Zulu nation and urged it to guard its culture and customs, especially the reed dance, because it was holy.

"My ancestors will protect me, as long as I am protecting this nation."

He said he could not understand why other cultures wanted to impose their standards on the Zulu culture.

"What is so hard for people to understand that we Zulus have our own beliefs? Does this democracy belong to a certain few? They must tell us if we are not needed..."

He said the Zulu nation respected other cultures but this was not reciprocal.

He went on to say that after 1994, he thought that all cultures would be respected.

"I am not looking down at the western laws, some are good and some are bad. What is bad is that they came here with a black book, the Bible, with the message of God but they had added their own darkness with a bullet and want to shoot us.

"But we spite them because we took the word of God from them."

Political killings

In his address, Zwelithini also criticised the political killings that took place in the run-up to the local government elections.

"The things that were happening in the hostels and the killing of women, these cowards," he said of those who killed several women before and after the elections.

"Killing a woman because she beat you during an election... You are not a man, you are less of a man," said Zwelithini.

He ended his speech by encouraging the young women to abstain from sex because it would discourage them from engaging in sexual relationships with blessers.

"I hear that there are blessees now. Do not become blessees when you are meant to get your own husbands.

"Young women who attend the reed dance don't have blessers, they only have the king," he said.

Source: News24

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