South Africans are calling for a state funeral be held in honor of Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, the revered monarch of the country’s largest ethnic group, whose death was announced Friday.
King Zwelithini, 72, passed away early Friday after being hospitalized for an ailment for several weeks, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a condolence message on social media.
“His Majesty will be remembered as a much-loved, visionary monarch who made an important contribution to cultural identity , national unity and economic development in KwaZulu-Natal and through this, to the development of our country as a whole,” President Cyril Ramaphosa wrote on Twitter Friday morning.
Many South Africans swiftly beckoned the president to temporarily relax South Africa’s coronavirus restrictions that prohibit mass gatherings at funerals, so the departed King can be accorded a public ceremony befitting of his status.
Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini was an influential leader throughout his reign. In 2010, he prompted a return to the tradition of male circumcision in order to combat high rates of HIV in KwaZulu-Natal, after studies indicated it significantly reduced transmission.
“He was powerful”, Kwaena Moabelo, a 46 year old resident of Johannesburg, told CNN. “He was more progressive than his predecessors.”
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