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South Africa's late Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini laid to rest

South Africa's late Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini laid to rest
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, delivers his eulogy during the memorial service for Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini   -  
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PhilL Magakoe/POOL PHOTO

South Africa

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa paid final tribute on Thursday to the late Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, who died last week.

Zwelithini was buried early Thursday in a private ceremony in the presence of his family and very close friends.

Zwelithini was the longest-serving Zulu monarch for more than five decades.

President Cyril Ramaphosa expresses his condolences to the Zulu nation, saying: "It is a difficult day because a huge tree has fallen. Our nation is indeed in mourning.

In a Tweet the leader said: "The King is not dead. Kings do not die."

Zwelithini died at the age of 72 last week in the eastern city of Durban, after weeks of treatment for a diabetes-related illness.

His remains were laid to rest at his birthplace, the small southeastern town of Nongoma in KwaZulu-Natal province.

His role was largely spiritual and ceremonial, and although he had received criticism from South African authorities, he kept his popularity among the Zulu people.

Zwelithini basked in the legacy of famous and defiant Zulu kings -- his ancestors -- who inflicted one of the British Empire's worst defeats in 1879.

But he was also divisive, accused of playing into the hands of the apartheid system's fight against the then-banned African National Congress party, which opposed white minority rule.

An elderly resident, who could not state his age but said he was an agemate of the king's father Fanyana Zwane, said he fondly remembered the monarch as a little boy who enjoyed collecting honey in the bush.

Later, he recalls him as a "forgiving disciplinarian," he told AFP.

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