As millions around the globe join hands in remembering the life of His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, King of the Zulu Nation, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Africa South Area wishes to add its voice to those honouring his life.
Elder S. Mark Palmer, Area President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the Africa South Area says, “We were terribly saddened to hear of the passing of His Majesty. He had been in our prayers for a full recovery during his hospitalization, but Heavenly Father has other plans for him. We extend our deepest sympathy to the members of the Royal Family and the Zulu nation for this great loss.”
His warmth, personable nature and generosity were some of his hallmark traits.
The Church witnessed this firsthand last year February. His Majesty, along with Her Majesty Queen Nompumelelo Zulu, His Highness Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi and other family members, endured flight delays and drove several hours to attend a special reception held prior to the Church’s dedication ceremony for the Durban South Africa Temple.
At the ceremony, the King showed great hospitality and kindness to the visiting Church leaders, including Elder Ronald A. Rasband, an Apostle of the Lord. He also presented them with traditional Zulu gifts.
“We will never forget the gracious and personal welcome extended by the King to leaders of the Church on that occasion,” says Elder Palmer.
His Majesty was a devout Christian, one who not only followed Christian principles but encouraged the sharing of them.
Leaders of the Church were honoured by the King’s invitation to share the gospel of Jesus Christ amongst his people. At the temple pre-dedication ceremony, His Majesty said, “I decree that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints be allowed to spread the gospel in the country and especially rural Kwazulu-Natal.”
His Majesty said that the gifts he had offered should act as a physical reminder of his invitation to Church leaders: when looking at the gifts, they “must remember what I’ve said and what I ask the Church: to assist my people in rural areas and to assist with the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Elder Palmer recounts that in turn, “Elder Rasband gave the King a personalized copy of the Book of Mormon which contains the following words: ‘Our kings and our leaders were mighty men in the faith of the Lord: and they taught the people the ways of the Lord (Jarom 1:7).’ These words could also well be used to describe His Majesty.”
King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu was a champion for the underprivileged. One of the defining characteristics of his reign was his interest in alleviating suffering and increasing self-reliance. His Majesty the King invited the Church to partner with him to care for the poor and needy, invest in education and improve the food security of his people.
As we feel the void of the loss of this mighty ruler, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recommits itself to that partnership: one of upliftment, improving the lives of the poor, furthering the tenets of self-reliance, and above all, of sharing the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Says Elder Palmer: “May his legacy of service be an example to all, and may his family and the Zulu nation feel the peace that comes from the Comforter in this time of great sadness and sorrow. May all be blessed by the words of our Saviour: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you (John 14:27).”