South Africa holds state funeral for Inkatha Freedom Party founder

Published September 17, 2023
Members of the South African Military Services carry the coffin draped with the South African flag of the Zulu prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, traditional prime minister of the Zulu Monarch and Nation and founder of the Inkatha Freedom Party, at his funeral in Ulundi on Saturday. — AFP
Members of the South African Military Services carry the coffin draped with the South African flag of the Zulu prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, traditional prime minister of the Zulu Monarch and Nation and founder of the Inkatha Freedom Party, at his funeral in Ulundi on Saturday. — AFP

ULUNDI: Thousands of people, some dressed in traditional warrior clothes, on Saturday attended the funeral of South Africa’s divisive Zulu leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who was implicated in a wave of deadly violence that marked the country’s emergence from apartheid.

Mourners crowded a small stadium in Ulundi, the ancient capital of the Zulu kingdom in eastern South Africa, to pay tribute to the founder of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), who died on Sept 9 aged 95.

Buthelezi was once a rival of Ramaphosa and his former boss Nelson Mandela, as the pair led negotiations to end white rule in South Africa, and for years was locked in a bitter rivalry with the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

The party was his political home until he broke away to form the Inkatha movement in 1975.

Born of royal blood, he was to some the embodiment of a proud and feisty Zulu spirit, while to others he often acted as a warlord.

“The sun has set on an era and on a life that witnessed and had an impact on much of our country’s modern history”, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a eulogy.

Earlier, family members dressed in black led a coffin covered by an animal skin and an IFP flag across a red carpet inside the stadium before it was placed under a black canopy on the pitch. Around it sat mourners, some wearing traditional leopard skins and holding spears and shields made from cow hides.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2023

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