As the AmaZulu nation mourns the passing of King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, Amahubo music – or the singing of traditional Zulu hymns – is one of the ways people are paying tribute to him. It was a genre of music close to his heart.

The 72-year-old AmaZulu monarch passed away from COVID-19 related complications in a Durban hospital on Friday.

The King revived Amahubo- traditional Zulu hymns that dominated during traditional ceremonies at the various King’s palaces. These are songs sung by AmaZulu regiments – and women – in times of sorrow or joy.

One of the Durban musicians who revived Amahubo – Mbuso Khoza – has previously performed at events attended by the late monarch. Khoza says Amahubo is also a form of prayer.

Khoza’s group, Afrikan Heritage Ensemble, specialises in Amahubo.

Khoza says Amahubo are also a form of prayer.

“Amahubo are the prayers of the nation and also are also at the corners of who we are, because in the olden days in each time there is an occurrence or there was an occurrence, they would compose a song specifically for that particular moment and also they serve as the prayers of the nation simply because of the messages over the years, tears of the nation, and also trials and tribulations like Isandlwana, and other colonial battles. So Amahubo are at the centre of who we are and Isilo Samantha wonke, he used to smile each time you sing these songs,” Khoza says.

Honouring Isilo Samabandla through Amahubo:

Khoza also shared his fond memories of the AmaZulu monarch.

“How am I going to remember the late King of the Zulu nation, for his love for his people, his love for God and he explicitly announced that he is a Christian and everyone needs to remember that we belong to Jesus and for me that was also being able to bring the stability they need to know God because knowledge for self is about knowing who created you. This is why again Heritage is important. So another thing is remembering the King for honesty on a podium. He will just speak his mind anytime the things that we are afraid to speak. He because a mirror of the nation,  the things that we feel that the government is doing he will just utter them,” says the Durban-based musician.

Praise singer to the late King – Buzetsheni Mdletshe – says he believes he has served the monarch well.

He was among those who visited the KwaKhethomthandayo Royal Palace at the weekend to pay their last respects. And he says he is grateful to have travelled the world with the AmaZulu monarch.

“I am very grateful that I worked with our King and I served him wholeheartedly, I am his longest-serving praise singer. We travelled the world with him by the grace of God, today I am thankful for everything up to this day, I feel I have served well my nation, wena we Ndlovu.”

Amahubo are likely to feature prominently when the King of the Zulu nation is being laid to rest on Wednesday night and during the official memorial on Thursday.

Maidens join mourners

A group of AmaZulu maidens have meanwhile joined mourners to pay their respects to the Zulu monarch.

Dressed in traditional attire, they have been singing and dancing on their arrival at the Kwakhethomthandayo Royal Palace in Nongoma in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

The maidens are among the hundreds who annually descend on the area during the Reed Dance Festival.

File Video: Maidens present reeds to the Zulu King:

It is one of the traditional Zulu ceremonies that was revived by the late monarch.