Number of visitors increase at King Shaka Visitor Centre

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The King Shaka Visitor Centre in KwaDukuza, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, preserves information about King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu and the AmaZulu nation.

In the wake of the AmaZulu monarch’s death, the centre has seen a high number of visitors. The longest-serving Zulu monarch departed at a Durban hospital on Friday.

He will be buried tonight.

King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu’s final journey to the Kwakhethomthandayo Palace: 

In Zulu culture, the term ukutshala refers to the belief that a King never dies but his spirit lives on. The King Shaka Centre, near Durban, is also home to the grave of one of the most renowned Zulu Kings, Shaka. Part of the centre is painted white.

Tour guide at the centre, Sthembiso Cele, explains that this site became a national monument in 1936.

“The monument was built in 1932 during the reign of King Solomon and it became a national monument in 1936 and it was built to pay tribute to the King.”

Next to King Shaka’s grave is a dark and flat rock on which he died when his brothers Dingane and Mhlangana stabbed him. Mbopha Ka-Sithayi, Shaka’s servant, assisted the brothers.

Cele says that the rock was removed from its original location and taken to the centre.

“We call it assassination rock as it is believed that the King was killed sitting on this rock, but not on this spot as it was removed from its original spot where it was. Shaka was killed on the 24th of September in 1828. That is why we celebrate Heritage Day on 24 September.”

Some popular versions of Zulu history note that when Shaka died, he told Dingane and Mhlangana that they would not rule.

After Shaka’s death, Dingane also killed Mbopha KaSithayi and Mhlangana, as he viewed them as a threat to his intent to rule. Even after becoming King, Dingane was not at ease.

Cele, giving more details on the historical significance of the location of the centre, says, “It means a lot because that is where we sustain the history of the King as it was built here in KwaDukuza. This was his palace as he moved his palace during his reign from KwaBulawayo near Ulundi and finally, he settled in KwaDukuza in 1836.”

Heritage officer at the centre, Gugu Ndlovu, says that since the departing of AmaZulu King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, the number of visitors has increased.

“I have seen the increase of visitors who come here to pay their respect to the King and some looking for books and documentaries about King Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu as they believe that his ancestors are here. They want to buy more books and materials and keep them for themselves. We are looking forward to the improvement of our centre in the near future. I am sure we will continue looking after it and hoping to extend more artefacts and displays and improve what we have at the moment.”

The King’s official memorial will take place tomorrow.

LIVE Proceedings: AmaZulu King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu Part 2