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Message by HRH Prince Ntuthukoyezwe Zuzifa Buthelezi

on behalf of the Buthelezi Family

at the Memorial Service Hosted by the Mangosuthu University of Technology

in honour of 

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP

Founder of the Mangosuthu University of Technology

Founder and President Emeritus of the Inkatha Freedom Party

Traditional Prime Minister of the Zulu Monarch and Nation

Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan

The Chancellor of the Mangosuthu University of Technology, Mr Sandile Zungu;

The Acting Vice Chancellor and Principal, Professor Marcus Ramogale;

The Administrator, Professor Lourens van Staden;

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Sibiya, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr van Koller, and Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Dr Manyane Makua;

The Registrar, Dr Phumzile Masala;

President and Members of the MUT Convocation;

Members of the Student Representative Council;

Staff, students, friends of MUT and distinguished guests.

On behalf of the family of His Excellency Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, uMntwana waKwaPhindangene, I wish to thank the leadership and community of Mangosuthu University of Technology for honouring our father.

I am here as the son of Prince Buthelezi, representing my sisters, the Hon. Princess Phumzile Nokuphiwa and the Hon. Princess Angela Sibuyiselwe, as well as the grandchildren, great-grandchildren and extended family of uMntwana waKwaPhindangene. I am also here on behalf of the Buthelezi Clan, whom my father served as Inkosi for seventy years.

We have all been blessed by the outpouring of support and kind words from so many people, throughout the world, on the loss of our father. It has been a tremendous comfort to know that we do not mourn alone. Indeed, our grief, as great as it is, is but a microcosm of the grief that has swept the nation upon learning of Prince Buthelezi’s passing.

Tributes have come from near and far, from Heads of State and former Heads of State, from the diplomatic corps, from academia, conservationists, the religious community, political parties, Amakhosi, jurists, royalty, community development organisations, and countless ordinary people, who loved and admired Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

We have been quite overwhelmed by the beautiful words and extraordinary memories expressed about our father. We always knew, of course, that he was a remarkable man; a great statesman and a champion of our people. But we did not know the full measure of the man until this moment, when so many came forward with their personal stories.

I suspect that even now we do not know the full measure of his contribution to freedom, democracy, social justice, constitutionalism, equality, stability and peace. His legacy will continue to unfold in the years to come as more and more of his history enters the public discourse.

I eagerly await the day that all of his documents, speeches and correspondence, spanning seven decades of public life, will be made available to the world. Then history will be properly told.

Fortunately, the momentous project of gathering, arranging and digitising all his papers has already begun. At the instance of Mr Graham McIntosh, a long-time friend of my father, Africa Media Online began creating Prince Buthelezi’s digital archive more than two years ago.

Initial funding to begin the project was graciously provided by Mr McIntosh, the Eric Thorrington-Smith Trust, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and the Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Foundation. The Oppenheimers have also committed funds for the next phase, as we have only just scratched the surface of all that needs to be preserved.

Africa Media Online, one of the leaders in the field of digital archiving, speaks of Prince Buthelezi’s collection as the largest personal collection it has ever seen or worked with. It consists of millions of pages of documents, and more than a million photographs, audio-visual materials and artefacts.

My father was meticulous in keeping records, and anyone who knew him knows that he was a letter-writer par excellence. All of his public speeches were committed to paper, whether he was speaking to an audience of thousands, or just a handful of dinner guests. Many people, particularly his political opponents, were taken by surprise when he pulled out a written memorandum; realising that he had come more than prepared for the task at hand!

He kept every piece of paper, until our home at KwaPhindangene, and all his offices, and various storerooms, simply overflowed with documents; among which, are the only surviving copies of some very historic records.

Africa Media Online has this to say about my father’s archive, and I quote –

“The archive of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi is extraordinary in its detail and depth and, because of that, holds promise for the redefining of our collective understanding of a pivotal period in South Africa’s history, the transition from apartheid, a particularly localised and entrenched form of colonialism, to a democratic dispensation. The narrative of that transition is dominated by the narrative of those who came into power. Yet the narrative told by those in power tells only one perspective of one of the World’s most extraordinary political transitions. The archive of a significant player in that transition, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, has the potential to shift the common understanding of that key time in our history. Its extensiveness, depth of documentation and the character and gifting of the extraordinary man at its centre has the potential to shift the way we see that transition. Prince Buthelezi embodied in himself the collision of forces competing to shape the new South Africa from traditional royalty to modern politician, from churchman to civil servant, from liberation activist to government minister.”

As students and academics, I know that the prospect of this archive becoming available is music to your ears!

But let me warn you, that something as precious as this comes at a precious cost. Millions of Rands still need to be raised to see this project continue to completion. I believe it will be done, for something as important as this simply has to happen.

The documented facts of our country’s past, and of the role that Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi played, need to be preserved, read and discussed. There is a conversation that is yet to be had about the past. Some think they understand it, and some act like demigods trying to direct the narrative for their own selfish interests. But the truth is there. It is documented. We need to bring it into the light so that my father will be vindicated in every stand he took, every word he uttered and every sacrifice he made in the interests of South Africa.

One of my father’s greatest legacies is, of course, the Mangosuthu University of Technology. I remember well his passion to equip young Black oppressed South Africans with vocational skills, that could ensure an income for them and their families. This was at a time when sanctions and disinvestment from South Africa were biting hard, and jobs were difficult to find. Our people were struggling, not only with the indignities of political oppression, but with the hardship of poverty and hopelessness.

My father always cared about education. He believed it to be the tool with which liberation could be leveraged; both political liberation and liberation from the shackles of poverty. He was very strict with my siblings and I about our studies, demanding that we apply ourselves at school and at university. I remember diligently writing to him from school to report on my progress, and to reassure him that I was working hard.

He of course was well educated, having attended Adams College and graduated from the University of Fort Hare. It had been his father’s dream to see his son well educated, and his mother, Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu, ensured that Inkosi Mathole’s dream was fulfilled when her husband, my grandfather, passed away during my father’s time at primary school.

Prince Buthelezi’s legacy as a champion of education became renowned during the liberation struggle. As Chief Minister of the KwaZulu Government, he ensured that more than 6 000 classrooms were built, as well as teacher training colleges and nursing colleges. As the leader of Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe, he juxtaposed the call for our people to abandon their education and burn down their classrooms, with a call to put education first, as a vital tool of our liberation.

While schools across the country burned, students in KwaZulu were in their classrooms, on time, being taught, and being shaped to become the future leaders, administrators, lawyers, journalists, doctors and captains of industry of a liberated South Africa.

That was my father’s vision. He always looked ahead; not because he lacked the passion to fix immediate problems, but because he knew that unless we build for the future while fighting today’s struggle, our fight tomorrow will be that much harder to win. Indeed, at some point, our greatest hopes will wither if we did not constantly enrich the soil in which we are planting them.

Tragically, he was often ridiculed for his approach. But there is not one among us who fails to recognise now that he was a visionary. Had he not ploughed into education the way he did – into the education of hundreds of thousands of youth – our country would be infinitely poorer.

Even in the last few years, there are still those who wrote him personal letters of appreciation, saying that because he founded Mangosuthu Technikon and because he kept schools open, and because he urged them to pursue education, they became people of influence in their own spheres.

That is the man my father was.

Not surprisingly, he was recognised internationally for championing education. I was proud when he was appointed Chancellor of the University of Zululand, my alma mater, in 1979, a position he held for 21 years.

By the way, like any proud son, I had wanted to study at my father’s alma mater, the University of Fort Hare. But the government authorities would not allow it, saying that I had to study at the University of Zululand, for that is where Zulus were meant to study!

When the apartheid policy of building ethnic universities began, there were many voices that said that the University of Zululand should not be supported, because it was a Tribal College or Bush University. But Prince Buthelezi and his first cousin, His Majesty King Cyprian Bhekuzulu ka Solomon, supported the University, understanding the importance of making tertiary education accessible to our youth.

For this, and for so much more, Prince Buthelezi was honoured by the academic world. He received four Honorary Doctorates of Law, from the University of Zululand in 1976, from the University of Cape Town in 1978, from Tampa University in Florida, in the United States, in 1985, and from the University of Boston, Massachussets, in 1986. In 1989, the City University of Los Angeles awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

Prince Buthelezi first received his passion for education from his father. But in his matric year at Adams College, that passion was ignited, when he began assisting his uncle, Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme, the founder of Africa’s oldest liberation movement. Dr Seme had undergone an eye operation and had limited sight. He therefore called upon his clever young nephew to transcribe his correspondence as he dictated it.

Considering their relationship and the time they spent together, it is not surprising that Dr Seme became one of Prince Buthelezi’s mentors, stirring in him deep political convictions and a deep love of country. Dr Seme was a great academic, having studied at Columbia University and Oxford, as well as in the Netherlands. That is extraordinary for the time in which he lived. More extraordinary still was that Dr Seme was admitted as an Attorney of the Supreme Court in 1911.

So he was an exceptional academic. My father admired him greatly and soaked up his wisdom. He often quoted Dr Seme’s iconic speech in London, delivered more a hundred years ago, titled, “The Regeneration of Africa”. In that speech Dr Seme foresaw the chains of Africa dissolving, Zululand becoming the seat of science, and our cities alive with business and commerce. This would happen, Seme said, because (and I quote) “having learned that knowledge is power, (the African) is educating his children.”

That had an enormous impact on Prince Buthelezi.  It is why he founded this institution, which proudly bears his name.

In March this year, when Dr Sandile Zungu was installed as Chancellor of the Mangosuthu University of Technology, my father came to this very hall and spoke, as he so often did, to the students and leadership of this institution. I would like to quote a small part of what he said, for there is no one who can explain my father’s heart better than he himself.

He said, and I quote –

“More than 40 years ago, when we built the Mangosuthu Technikon here in Umlazi, my vision was to create an institution that would equip the youth of this community so that they would be able to shape and own the future.

It was a bold vision, for our people were suffering under the cruel injustice of political oppression and the future did not yet belong to our youth. We were still fighting for that inheritance. But, even as we fought, I knew that we needed to prepare the next generation, so that when we finally won, they would be ready to take the reins and thrive.

With each successive year, this institution produced a battalion of capable young South Africans, ready and equipped to become the leaders, administrators, entrepreneurs and employers our future so desperately needed. And, once we achieved liberation, MUT continued to meet the need for trained, equipped and capable youth who could build our shared future.

I am proud that today the Mangosuthu University of Technology is still fulfilling its original vision: equipping our youth to shape and own the future.”

Prince Buthelezi walked a long road with MUT. He did not simply birth this institution, and then hope it would flourish. He nurtured it and guided it and lent his support at every turn. He was immensely proud to see one of Umlazi’s own installed as Chancellor this year. My only regret is that he never had the chance to meet with Professor Lourens van Staden as he had intended to do, for their busy diaries clashed until it was too late.

But I know what he would have told Prof. van Staden. This institution is a cornerstone of community life. It is a wellspring of hope. It is a weapon against future hardship for so many people. And it must be protected.

Today, on behalf of the Buthelezi family, I wish again to thank Mr Nicky Oppenheimer and the Oppenheimer family, not only for the seed capital provided by Mr Harry Oppenheimer more than 40 years ago, but for their continued commitment to the wellbeing of this institution. Like my father, the Oppenheimer family has maintained the fight for education.

Thank you for honouring Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi. It would have meant the world to him to see the depth of your love. I think he knew, but we could never have shown him enough.

We take comfort now, as we grieve this great loss, knowing that Prince Buthelezi can finally say those words he had hoped to say –

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing”. (2 Timothy 4:7-8) 

With our deepest appreciation, Shenge, we say farewell.

I thank you.

This message was delivered at the Memorial Service hosted by the Mangosuthu University of Technology in honour of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP on 14 September 2023 at Pixley ka Seme Hall, and published on on 14 September 2023.