Mourners gather in South Africa for funeral of controversial Zulu prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi

Mourners gathered in South Africa on Saturday for the funeral of controversial Zulu prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, former premier of KwaZulu-Natal province and leader of South Africa’s largest ethnic group, the Zulu.

Buthelezi died on Thursday after battling a short illness at the age of 94. He was a prominent politician and leader of the Zulu people for more than five decades.

His funeral was held in Nongoma, the town in northern KwaZulu-Natal province that was the seat of the Buthelezi dynasty. It was attended by many prominent political figures and members of the royal family. KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala said that Buthelezi had “worked tirelessly for the liberation” of South Africa and its people.

Deputy President David Mabuza said Buthelezi had “devoted his life to healing the divisions of the past and uniting all of South Africa, and he leaves an indelible legacy of courage, peace, and reconciliation.”

Buthelezi was a divisive figure, lauded for his involvement in the fight against apartheid but criticized by the African National Congress for his opposition to the 1994 transition to democracy. He retired from political office in 2019 after leading the Inkatha Freedom Party for nearly 40 years.

Not many, however, disputed the massive contribution Mangosuthu Buthelezi had made to South African politics and his roles as an advocate for peace and unity. His funeral was testament to how much he was respected and appreciated by his people and in South Africa as a whole. May he rest in peace.