King Goodwill Zwelithini dies: Who will inherit his throne?
King Goodwill Zwelithini has passed away at the age of 72, after a long battle with diabetes.
Zulu nation mourns death of a king
The royal house confirmed the news in a statement, revealing that the king had been kept in intensive care for weeks after his glucose levels showed worrying signs of instability.
In the wee hours of Friday morning, King Zwelithini succumbed to the metabolic disease.
“On behalf of the Royal Family, we thank the nation for your continued prayers and support in this most difficult time,” the royal house noted.
King Goodwill Zwelithini: Who will be the heir to his throne?
Zwelithini is the longest-serving king of the Zulu nation, holding the throne for about five decades. Staking his claim on a seat of power was no easy feat.
Zwelithini was only 20 years old when the monarchical responsibilities were placed on him after his father, King Cyprian Bhekuzulu, died in 1968.
The young king would spend three years hiding on the outskirts of the kingdom — there were numerous reports of plots to kill him — before he was officially crowned king in 1971.
As the nation mourns the fall of a king, in the royal circles, murmurs are abuzz on who will occupy his powerful seat. At this time, the royal house has not made any official statement on Zwelithini’s last-dying words — if there were any.
Unlike in most Western monarchies, there is no direct ritual practised in replacing kings. The process of replacing an heir is a complex one that, more often than not, breeds feuds.
A common practice in the Zulu kingdom, however, is that whoever becomes king must come from pure royal blood. Of Zwelithini’s rumoured 32 children, it’s believed that two princes hold a strong claim.
Prince Misuzulu, aged 42, the son of Queen Mantombiof the Swazi royal bloodline is a frontrunner. Then there is Prince Lethuk’thula who is a decade older than Misuzulu. He is the son of Queen Sibongile from the Dlamini bloodline.
Neither of these two names has surfaced as contenders for the throne. We suspect, however, that more updates on this pertinent issue will surface after the burial of King Zwelithini.