Thousands of people came out to celebrate the coronation of Misuzulu ka Zwelithini as Zulu king in South Africa on Saturday.
The 48-year-old pledged to unite the Zulu nation after his accession was contested. But the controversy did not dampen the spirits of those who went to the KwaKhangelamankengane Palace in KwaZulu-Natal province.
Members of the traditional Zulu regiments sang and chanted in celebration.
“It’s a great day, we are making history,” Bongani Khumalo, who was one of the warriors charged with protecting the king, told the AFP news agency.
The Zulu warriors and maidens also danced as part of the festivities.
The throne has no formal political power, but a fifth of South Africa’s population is Zulu and its monarchy remains hugely influential.
The focal point for the event was inside the sacred cattle kraal where Misuzulu ka Zwelithini went to invoke his ancestors before being announced to both the living and the dead as the new Zulu monarch.
The new king then emerged wearing black feathers and holding a spear and shield.
“Today the Zulu nation starts a new chapter,” he is quoted by AFP as telling the crowds. “I promise I will work to unite the Zulu nation.”
The ceremony took place amid a row about whether he was the rightful heir. The half sisters of the king claim their late father’s will, which paved the way for Misuzulu to become king, may have been forged.
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