UKZN Hosts Women’s Day Dialogue with the Zulu Queen
‘Everything I do for the community, I do for myself, so I can draw strength from the same people that I’ve had the privilege of helping.’
These were the words of Her Royal Highness Queen Ntokozo kaMayisela in her address at a Women in Conversation Dialogue hosted by UKZN.
KaMayisela, the founder of Kamaskolo Foundation and the In-Between Girls Programme (which every woman can relate to), said the Lord Almighty puts individuals in situations outside their comfort zones to build their characters and reward them at the right time.
She also led women in a song titled: Wemadoda Sabelani.
In her welcome address, the Executive Director of UKZN’s Corporate Relations Division, Ms Normah Zondo, highlighted how the event was aimed at celebrating women and the struggles and achievements they faced daily.
Said Zondo: ‘We are honoured to host the Queen who is passionate about gender equality and women empowerment - two subjects that are part of UKZN’s transformation agenda as an Institution. The University has worked with traditional leadership and the royal family in the past to advance several causes, and we see this dialogue today as a continuation of that work which is part of our broader efforts in contributing to the advancement and development of all communities in the province. We are encouraged by the Queen’s work to advance women’s empowerment and fight GBV, and we hope that through her foundation, she will work closely with the University.’
Dr Gugu Mazibuko, the Academic Leader for African Languages in the School of the Arts, reviewed Zulu rituals involved in King Misuzulu KaZwelithini’s traditional crowning which included witnessing the late King Goodwill’s burial; the succession of the Regent Queen KaDlamini Zulu and her death; the cleansing ceremony; the hunting and killing of a lion; the entry into the kraal; and the state ceremony scheduled to take place at Moses Mabhida stadium announcing the King as the Constitutional Monarch.
Recalling iconic women such as Princess Mkabayi KaJama, Queen Mthaniya KaSibiya, Queen KaMsweli and Queen Nandi KaMhlongo, Mazibuko noted how women have always played powerful leadership roles in the Zulu culture.
Mazibuko examined other important traditional customs for women, including Umkhosi Womhlanga (Reed Dance), Umhlonyana (Coming of Age Ceremony), Umemulo (21st Birthday Celebration) and Umkhosi Wesivivane (for unmarried women).
UKZN PhD student and businesswoman Ms Thandi Ngxongo discussed the principles of respect, humility, hard work, unity and resilience instilled in her by her grandparents. A qualified engineer with a UKZN degree and MBA, she encouraged women to take full advantage of any opportunity they got because ‘someone is always watching.’
Highlighting her journey to becoming the owner of a petrol station, she said it was important to ‘pursue your vision and put together a plan to make it happen.’
Emphasising the importance of uplifting others, Ngxongo said: ‘Don’t underestimate the power of influence. Invest in your own self-development so that when you sit at the table, you have something of value to offer.’
In closing proceedings, Interim Senior Director for Student Services at UKZN Professor Fikile Mazibuko noted how songs at the event related to issues of GBV in the country.
Thanking the speakers, organisers and performers, Mazibuko acknowledged the Queen for her foresight, insight into the family unit, and her long-standing spirit of servitude. ‘Thank you for reminding us of home and leaving us better informed,’ she said.
The event was facilitated by alumnus Dr Lusanda Zwane and included amazing performances by the Red Lights choir as well as a moving poetry rendition by Ms Lucy “Impondokazi” Mbali titled: Ahh Ndlovukazi.
To watch the event, click here.
Words: Hlengiwe Khwela
Photographs: Albert Hirasen and Sethu Dlamini