A SOUTH African king who is visiting Zimbabwe has apologised for the xenophobic attacks that took place in his country earlier this year, describing the attacks on foreigners as a regrettable episode in the continent’s history.
King Bungane III of the royal Kingdom of Embo sent out a profound condolence message to families of the victims of the horrific attacks in isiZulu.
Ironically, the attacks are reported to have been triggered by statements by another South African king, Goodwill Zwelithini of the Zulu Kingdom, who was also expected in Zimbabwe together with his Embo counterpart, but opted out at the last minute.
King Zwelithini’s daughter Princess Nonkosi, however, graced the event.
King Bungane is in Zimbabwe for a wedding of a family friend held yesterday in Gwanda, and is expected to attend the official opening of a 1 000-seater Brethren-in-Christ church in the same town today.
Speaking during a Press conference at a hotel in Bulawayo yesterday, the Embo king condemned the attacks and killing of foreigners by his countrymen.
“We are in deep pain about the killings and the foreigners who were lost during the xenophobic attacks . . . we deeply apologise about the lives that were lost. We are one as Africans and we will continue fighting for such acts to stop.
“What causes people to fight is that they are not aware of their purpose as Africans,” said the king in his message. King Bungane blamed the xenophobic attacks on the artificial borders that were put in place by Europeans when they colonised Africa.
He chronicled the Embo kingdom’s history, which he traced back to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), adding that some of his ancestors also had roots in Zimbabwe, while he also had cousins in several other countries on the continent.
The Embo kingdom’s people, the AmaHlubi, are led in present-day South Africa by their king, Isilo Bungane III, who also takes this name from previous rulers of the AmaHlubi.
One of the best known of these rulers of AmaHlubi was king Langalibalele who resisted domination when the British came to rule over Natal and impose themselves on the native communities there.
The Embo king said Africans were one people and his kingdom would fight against the idea of artificial borders between African states. He added that his kingdom would also push for Africa to use one currency as a way of uniting people and making them aware that they were one people.
“We totally do not subscribe to the notion of violence. We clearly believe that we are one regardless of isiNdebele that is interrelated to isiZulu. We condemn the killing of our brothers, we condemn the killing of our sisters. We deeply, deeply condemn this.
“Remember that conference in Berlin that divided us. That is where the problem started. We don’t subscribe to that. We don’t believe in borders because we say we are one. We as the Embo are saying we are going to fight against that and we must have one currency because we are one.
“We as the people of Embo are one. If you go to South Africa you will find us, Sudan you will find us and in Ghana it is the same thing. Then how do you kill such people? We as Embo people don’t believe in the notion of fighting or swearing because we believe if I swear at you I might be swearing at my cousin,” he said.
King Bungane III, however, refused to be drawn into discussing the statements made by King Zwelithini which are largely believed to have sparked the xenophobic attacks.
“I don’t believe I’m the right person to discuss this. I think the qualified person to talk about this is King Zwelithini. I cannot talk on his behalf or on behalf of his kingdom. If you ask me a question about the Royal Kingdom of Embo I will answer that,” he said.
King Bungane is leading a delegation of artistes and chiefs who are scheduled to attend the official opening of the Brethren-in-Christ church, whose construction was financed by South Africa-based Zimbabwean businessman Mr Justice Maphosa and South African business mogul Mr George Moyo.
The two businessmen are also the organisers of the events and Mr Maphosa’s younger brother, Justin, is the one whose wedding was graced by King Bungane.
Last month King Zwelithini was reported to be coming to Zimbabwe as part of the guests for the wedding and the official opening of the church, but he later cancelled his intended visit after it drew a lot of excited interest among locals.
However, the organisers of the event yesterday said King Zwelithini was never invited for the three-day fiesta which kicked off on Friday night with a free gospel music concert.
“I must make it clear here that King Zwelithini was never invited for this function. The king who was invited is King Bungane, the one you are seeing. That is the correct position,” said Mr Moyo.
Asked on how much the two businessmen had used in building the church, holding the free gospel concert as well as catering for the expenses of the artistes, Mr Maphosa was evasive. Instead, he chose to blast the media for previewing the events, particularly his brother’s wedding which he said was a private function.
Reports from Gwanda are that journalists were barred from covering the five-star wedding which literally ground business in Gwanda to a halt.
King Bungane is accompanied by Princess Nonkosi, Chief Zwide KaLanga and a host of South African artistes among them Staon of Bongo Maffin and jazz crooner Tsepo Tshola.
The artistes are billed to perform at the official opening of the Brethren-in-Christ Church today. Sunday News