Messages of condolences are pouring in following the death of the regent of the AmaZulu nation – Queen Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu. The Queen died on Thursday evening at the age of 65. The news of her passing has shocked many.

As regent, she was supposed to reign until a successor to her late husband is chosen and installed. Never before in the history of the AmaZulu has a regent passed away before a new king is installed.

People say the death of King Goodwill Zwelithini followed by his Great Wife is a double blow to the nation and the guidance she provided to women will be missed.

AmaZulu regent 

Queen Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu was the Great Wife of the late King Goodwill Zwelithini. She was a Princess in the then-Swaziland when she was betrothed to King Goodwill Zwelithini in 1973.

Queen Mantfombi was the daughter of King Sobhuza the Second of Eswatini, and sister of the current ruler – King Mswati III. She has been hailed for working closely with the late King Goodwill Zwelithini in reviving traditional ceremonies like the Reed Dance.

The leader of maidens taking part in the annual Reed Dance ceremony, Dolly Masango, has expressed her shock at the passing of the Queen.

“This came at a time where we are still mourning the passing of our king. We were not expecting this, to our Queen, our mother who worked closely with his Majesty in reviving the Reed Dance. She linked the AmaZulu Nation with the Eswatini Kingdom. As maidens, we have suffered a great loss. It is not nice to lose parents at the same time.”

The Zulu nation in mourning after the death of Queen Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu: 

Umkhosi Wesivivane ceremonies

Maiden minders,  women who guide maidens taking part in the annual Reed Dance, have also expressed their shock. A leader of the maiden minders in the Durban metro, Busisiwe Ntombela, says the queen played an important role in hosting the annual, women-only Umkhosi Wesivivane ceremonies.

Ntombela says this ceremony is aimed at preparing women to face life’s challenges.

“Besides the Reed Dance, Queen MaDlamini used to host uMkhosi Wesivivane in August for women. She was dearly loved by women, we are unable to express our shock and sadness. At the end of this ceremony she used to remind us that she will see us at Nyokeni palace, she was our mother and also the mother to the maidens  she used to advise maidens about preserving culture.”

The chairperson of the KwaZulu-Natal House of Traditional Leaders, Inkosi Phathisizwe Chiliza,  says the death of the Queen came at a time when the nation was still trying to come to terms with the passing of the King.

“ This is the time that we need to respect ourselves, to mourn and make sure that we give all support to the Royal household. We want to send our condolences especially to the sons of the King, the Queen mother, uNdlunkulu Guabini, and all total household families, we know the pain they are in this time. ”

Scale down of major events 

The KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Sihle Zikalala, says the provincial government will scale down major events in the wake of the regent’s passing. Zikalala says as regent, she was supposed to be a bridge between two monarchs and the AmaZulu nation.

“During this period of grief and bereavement, we wish to report that as KwaZulu-Natal government,  whilst we will continue providing all services and ensure that the provision of service delivery is not disrupted, we will however scale down big events that were expected to take place until the burial takes place.”

As regent Queen Dlamini Zulu was supposed to reign until a successor to her late husband is chosen and installed. Never before in the history of the AmaZulu nation has a regent passed away before a new king is installed.

Family history 

Queen Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu, was born in 1956. Her father was both the heir to an ancient dynasty and the founder of an independent Swaziland, as the country was known.

After a traditional upbringing in the Swazi royal family, the Princess was married to King Goodwill Zwelithini in 1977. She was announced as regent a little more than a month ago.

Her elder brother Prince Masitsela Dlamini from Eswatini says the news of her passing has left him shocked and heartbroken.

In an interview with SABC radio station Ukhozi FM, Prince Masitsela Dlamini sent his condolences to the AmaZulu nation and the royal house. He said at the time of her death, his sister had not yet appointed a successor.

“What has happened is very painful. We have not yet even visited the Royal House after the passing of the King, She had not even started her responsibilities after being appointed as the regent. She has not appointed the successor, we are heartbroken, and we are out of words. We are sending our condolences to the AmaZulu nation and the Royal family.”

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi has asked the public and the media to give the AmaZulu Royal family space and privacy to deal with the death of AmaZulu regent Queen Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu: 

Way forward 

Doctor Gugulethu Mazibuko from the University of KwaZulu-Natal says the AmaZulu nation is now faced with an unprecedented challenge.

“It came as a shock, after just a short succession of the late Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini the Royal family, the nation is still in the mourning period. This is happening for the first time in the history of AmaZulu. We are all confused and there is no referral where we can say it happened in a particular way and it was resolved in this way. We are all waiting for the Traditional Prime Minister of the nation and the Zulu Royal family to make the announcement on the way forward as the Prime Minister has already made the announcement that there will be no leadership vacuum in the nation.”

Professor Sihawu Ngubane from the University of KwaZulu-Natal says Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi will have to make an announcement on a way forward following the Queen’s death: 

Mazibuko says like many other women in the AmaZulu royal family before her, Queen Mantfombi played a critical and respected role. “It is not something new. A long time ago, if you read the history of AmaZulu, you will realise that Princess Mkabayi was one of the influential, powerful leaders of the AmaZulu, Queen kaMsweli as well she became Regent of King Dinuzulu and in this time and era, there are different leadership roles that are assigned to Royal family women. For instance, the Queen – who has just passed on – was leading the ceremony called Isivivane ceremony, a women-only ceremony. She was leading that which is an annual ceremony cultural ceremony held at KwaKhangela Amankengane Royal Palace. Women had a special place in the King’s heart, they were at the centre of the entire nation because they assign powerful roles in the nation.”

Her Majesty had eight children, including five sons. Authors- Fanele Mhlongo and Nonkululeko Hlophe