South Africa: Misuzulu’s Long Journey to the Throne

Forty-eight years ago, a child was born to the powerful and influential Zulu and eSwatini royal families and was aptly named Misuzulu Sinqobile kaZwelithini.

His first name, Misuzulu, means “he who would strengthen the Zulu nation”, while Sinqobile means “we have conquered”.

His father, King Goodwill Zwelithini and his mother, Queen Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu, from the Kingdom of eSwatini, were delighted when he was born on 23 September 1974.

On Saturday, President Cyril Ramaphosa will hand over the certificate of recognition – the last step of his journey of taking over as king of the 11 million-strong Zulu nation.

King Misuzulu was destined to succeed his father, King Zwelithini KaZwelithini, but he was utterly oblivious to that fact growing up as this was kept a secret from him.

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who knew King Misuzulu when he was a toddler, said it was a joyous day when he was born because the elders knew that he was next in line to be king.

This was because he was born to a great wife, said Buthelezi.

“When the nation pays lobola, as in the case of Queen Mantfombi, that woman becomes a chief wife, who will give birth to the heir apparent,” he said.

King Misuzulu was born at Hlabisa hospital, northern KwaZulu-Natal.

From then on, he trekked between KZN and eSwatini, then under King Sobhuza II.

Prince Thulani Zulu, King Misuzulu’s uncle, described his nephew as a shy but courageous man.

“He knew when to talk and when not to talk when he was growing up,” said the prince.

King Misuzulu was a relatively unknown figure until the deaths of his father, King Zwelithini, on 12 March 2021 and his mother, Queen Mantfombi, a month later in April.

His name was mentioned publicly as the person who would take the throne, pitting him against his half-brother Simakade, King Zwelithini’s first son, who was born out of wedlock, and Prince Buzabazi.

King Misuzulu spent most of his childhood in eSwatini, where he attended primary school. He later returned to South Africa, where he attended high school at the prestigious St Charles College in Pietermaritzburg.

He has a degree in international studies.