King Goodwill Zwelithini, leader of South Africa’s Zulu people, has been laid to rest in a private ceremony on Wednesday.
He was 72.
Zwelithini died from complications related to diabetes last Friday.
He was the Zulu nation’s longest-serving monarch, reigning for more than five decades.
Zwelithini was laid to rest in a traditional ceremony known as “ukutshalwa kweNkosi,” which includes a “planting” rather than a burial. Only senior members of the royal family were able to attend.
According to DailySabah, bare-breasted women in elaborate necklaces and headbands danced and sang as they paraded to the funeral parlor.
The men (“amaButho,”) or Zulu regiments, followed the women. They donned traditional leopard skins and ostrich feathers – wielding spears, shields and clubs known as “knobkerries.”
The Zulus are the largest ethnic group of South Africa’s 60 million people.
President Cyril Ramaphosa was among the speakers at a memorial service: “It was during his reign that the Zulu nation achieved harmony and peace. It was during the course of his reign that his people alongside all the people of our country realised the dream of freedom from the injustices of colonialism and apartheid,” said Ramaphosa.
Former President Jacob Zuma, who is Zulu, and Princess Charlene of Monaco, from South Africa also attended the memorial service.
“We feel extremely naked, we feel like somebody has undressed us, deprived us of the blanket that covered us,” said town mayor Albert Mncwango.
Zwelithini was named king during apartheid in 1971 when he was just 23, three years after his father passed.
Zwelithini, a beloved ruler, is survived by his six wives and 28 children. His successor is yet to be confirmed.
Anglo-Zulu War, also known as Zulu War — a six-month war in 1879 in Southern Africa. Ultimately, the British won but the Zulu’s are credited with doling out one of the British Empire’s worst defeats in 1879.