In the heart of the Zululand District Municipality lies the historic town of Ulundi, also known as Mahlabathini. A journey through its streets and conversations with its residents reveal a singular truth; Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi is the driving force behind the town’s very existence.
Once the regal capital of Zululand, Ulundi’s transformation into the thriving community it is today owes much to the vision and relentless efforts of Prince Buthelezi. As we delve into the annals of time and talk to the people who call this place home, his indomitable spirit and dedication to the town’s development come to the forefront.
Prince Buthelezi, a name synonymous with leadership in South Africa, emerges as the central figure in Ulundi’s narrative. During his tenure as the Chief Minister of the KwaZulu Bantustan in the late 1970s and early 1980s, he embarked on a mission to reshape Ulundi’s destiny.
Ulundi Local Municipality, Councillor Wilson Ntshangase said, “Ulundi on its own is the brainchild of the Prince of KwaPhindangene, as you can see where we are standing it was a forest. But Ulundi is now a developed town through the ideas of Prince of KwaPhindangene…”
One of his most remarkable achievements was the founding of iThala Bank. This wasn’t just a bank; it was a lifeline for the local community, aiming to bring essential banking services within reach of all. Prince Buthelezi’s vision was clear – to stimulate economic growth within Ulundi by providing access to financial services.
But his impact didn’t stop at finance; Prince Buthelezi actively nurtured entrepreneurship within the town. Collaborating with local business leaders, he established numerous enterprises, paving the way for job creation and economic prosperity.
iNduna YeNkosi yakwaXimba Mtongani Bukhali says, “Ulundi is new, it did not exist. It was called aMahlabathi. When Ulundi was built there was a store called iThala, which developed or morphed into the iThala bank, along with the rest of the developments which were part and parcel of Prince Buthelezi’s vision. So for Ulundi to even exist it is all because of Prince Buthelezi.”
Shenge to return home for the last time:
Today, Ulundi stands as a living testament to Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s vision. Its streets are lined with thriving businesses, markets teem with activity, and there’s an undeniable sense of pride among its residents. His legacy isn’t merely a memory; it’s an integral part of the town’s identity.“
“Ulundi was built eMahlabathini, where Prince Buthelezi rules the Buthelezi clan…” says Bukhali. He adds to say that the name Ulundi comes from Ondini, the house or the King’s royal palace, uCetshwayo which was burnt and destroyed by the boers. Buthelezi started by rebuilding the royal palace before creating Ulundi…”
However, as we celebrate Ulundi’s growth and development, there’s a bittersweet note on the horizon. Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the man who breathed life into Ulundi, will soon find his final resting place in the town he nurtured, developed, and helped flourish.
Ntshangase said, “People of Ulundi will always admire the Prince of KwaPhindangene, because as a person of Ulundi who grew up here, I am what I am because of the efforts of Prince Buthelezi.”
It’s a moment of reflection, a chance to pay homage to the visionary who guided Ulundi’s transformation. As the sun sets over this town, casting its warm embrace over its vibrant streets, Ulundi prepares to say goodbye to a figure who wasn’t just a leader but an anchoring visionary in its history.
In the end, Prince Buthelezi’s legacy lives on in the hearts of Ulundi’s people, in the thriving businesses he fostered, and in the very soul of a town he helped build. As he finds his eternal rest in Ulundi, the town stands as a living monument to his enduring commitment and unwavering dedication.