Culture and tourism have a mutually beneficial relationship which can enhance the competitiveness of a destination. Cultural events enhance interaction and develop positive relationships among the participants and in the process boost individual confidence by awarding the individuals the opportunity for personal development.
Cultural events also have a tendency of bringing people together, leading to improved social solidarity and cohesion, fostering social inclusion, capacity building, community empowerment, social pride and confidence.
The coronation of the AmaZulu King, King Misuzulu kaZwelithini on the 29 October 2022 served as one of the significant cultural events in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, which left a jubilant atmosphere in the Moses Mabhida Stadium, eThekwini where it was held.
A ceremony of this nature was last witnessed in 1971, when King Goodwill Zwelithini, the father to King Misuzulu was sworn into the throne, therefore this ceremony served as a celebration of the cultural heritage of the AmaZulu lineage and their traditions.
King Misuzulu kaZwelithini is the 9th monarch since the famous King Shaka founded and established AmaZulu Nation (SABC News, 29 October 2022). Before the coronation, King MisuZulu kaZwelithini was kept in seclusion for seven days where he was being prepared by the elders for his new role and was kept in prayers for protection by the ancestors.
This period of seclusion also gave him the opportunity to reflect on the events that were about to unfold leading to the final stage of his coronation, following the stage of entering the sacred royal kraal in KwaKhangelamankengane palace in August.
The King requested the final stage of the coronation process to be hosted in Moses Mabhida, eThekwini to embrace the AmaZulu in both the urban and rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal. It was reported that the king was in high spirits, concerned with all the dignitaries and visitors’ safety on their way to Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Each destination has a competitive edge that attracts tourists to choose it over the other destinations, and the province of KwaZulu-Natal has a wealth of culture and heritage, more especially of the dominant ethnic group, AmaZulu, and which serves as a pulling factor for the tourists. The coronation of the AmaZulu king served as a boost for the tourism sector since 82 000 visitors attended this cultural event at Moses Mabhida Stadium (Eye Witness News, 29 October 2022).
Amongst the dignitaries that graced this event were the Head of State, Traditional leaders, Former Presidents, religious organizations, and the business fraternity, who were all present to witness the recognition of King Misuzulu by the democratic government of South Africa as the AmaZulu King, and where the South African president, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa was to hand over the certificate of recognition.
The economic assessment conducted by the City of Durban estimated the visitor spend of R65m in the province on accommodation, restaurants, and leisure activities, boosting the local economy by as much as R130m and in the process sustaining 207 jobs (SATravelNews, 28 October 2022).
The MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs, Siboniso Duma said: “The coronation of the AmaZulu King is a once-in-a-lifetime event and we are honored as the province of KwaZulu-Natal to be the host province.” He further emphasized that hosting this coronation will also have impactful economic spin-offs for the KZN province, particularly for the tourism sector.
In this cultural event, calls were made by various dignitaries for the unity of the Zulu Nation since the divisions in the Zulu Monarch automatically lead to the division of the Zulu nation. Another call was made to the Zulu Monarch to preserve the Zulu culture and King Misuzulu kaZwelithini was specifically requested to spearhead the delivery of basic services and work in collaboration with other stakeholders such as the government and the business sector to suggest viable strategies to attract investors to the province, in order to fight the unemployment scourge that was sitting at 33,9% in the second quarter of 2022 (StatsSA, 2022).
The new King of AmaZulu, after signing the handover certificate and fully taking over the Zulu throne, he addressed thousands of AmaZulu who were in attendance and promised to rebuild the nation, forge unity with other nations, and be honest while carrying out his leadership duties (IOL, 29 October 2022).
South Africa’s Tourism Recovery Plan is believed to be well on track in the KZN province with the revival of the major sporting events such as the MTN 8 semi-finals, Amashova Cycle Race, and the World Football Summit, coupled with the coronation of the AmaZulu King, a cultural event that was last witnessed in this province 51 years ago, and which serves as a boost the province’s tourism development and promotion.
As a country, we need to use new innovations when hosting sporting and cultural events that serve as the national flag carriers, to be among the world’s sought-after destinations for both international and domestic tourists.