Queen Shiyiwe Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu, who became the regent of the Zulu throne after the death of King Goodwill Zwelithini in March, has also passed away, the royal family has confirmed. The 65-year-old was a wife of the deceased king.
Queen Shiyiwe was the sister of King Mswati III, the controversial leader of Eswatini. By virtue of her own royal lineage, Queen Shiyiwe was regarded as King Goodwill’s prime and stately wife. King Goodwill and Queen Shiyiwe were together for about five decades.
The statement from the traditional prime minister of the Zulu people, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, read: “It is with the deepest shock and distress that the Royal Family announces the unexpected passing of Her Majesty Queen Shiyiwe Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu, Regent of the Zulu Nation”.
While not revealing what had caused the queen’s demise, the statement said her death “has taken us by surprise and left us utterly bereft”. It is expected that the eldest son of Shiyiwe and Goodwill, a 47-year-old man, will now be the regent of South Africa’s largest ethnic group.
The Zulu are the subject of a lot of anthropological and historical interest as well as the source of African pride for those on the continent and out. From the legendary King Shaka to the one who just passed, Zulu history continues to be made on the particular ethnic level as well as in the larger context of South African history.
The funeral of the departed King Goodwill was attended by royalty from around the world. Through his half-century reign, the monarch did establish significant relationships across the world. Now, his successor would pick things up in a world vastly different than what King Goodwill knew in 1968.
A Zulu king’s successor is never immediately revealed to the general public after the departed king has been buried, or, in local parlance, “planted”. According to Gugu Maibuko of the University of KwaZulu Natal, “[h]iding the real name of the next king prevents possible tensions within the family, since these are extended families where choices may vary.”
This is a political tactic to prevent palace intrigue in the death of a king. A successor must be found agreeable by all the elements of the royal clan. King Goodwill’s will be chosen among his 28 living children and is most likely going to be a man.