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Zulu king enrages gay community

Goodwill Zwelithini, king of the Zulu tribe in South Africa, called gay people “rotten.”
ZumaweddingEnlarge
South African President Jacob Zuma (L) sings and dances with his newlywed Tobeka Madiba (R) at their wedding ceremony on January 4, 2010 in a colourful Zulu traditional wedding outfit at Zuma's rural homestead of Nkandla, some 400 kilometres north of Durban. Wearing leopard skins and carrying a Zulu shield, South Africa's polygamous President Jacob Zuma on married today for fifth time, in a traditional ceremony in his remote hometown. The 67-year-old and his new bride Thobeka Madiba, 30 years his junior, danced in an open field at his homestead in Nkandla, a village deep in the countryside of KwaZulu-Natal province. (RAJESH JANTILAL/AFP/Getty Images)

Perhaps only in South Africa can a leader deliver a homophobic speech wearing a leopard fur outfit and have people take him seriously.

Which is exactly what happened Jan. 21, during the celebrations of the 133rd anniversary of the Battle of Isandlwana near Dundee.

According to The Witness newspaper, Goodwill Zwelithini, the ruling king of the Zulu tribe, said the following about homosexuality:

“This is something new within the Zulu nation and it needs to be condemned. No matter who you are, if you are doing it, you are rotten.”

The Royal Household later issued a statement saying it was “shocked and dismayed” by the “reckless translation” [from Zulu], The Mercury reported.  

His majesty was apparently only remarking about today’s rampant sexual abuse:

"During the good olden days, our forefathers dedicated their lives for the good of the nation. Men would go for months in the battles to fight the enemies without their wives but did not harass each other sexually and there were no cases of rape of women,” he reportedly said. “Nowadays, you even have men who rape other men. This is a clear sign of moral decay. We condemned those involved – no matter who you are.”

Homosexuality, of course, is not a new phenomenon in the Zulu culture, otherwise there probably wouldn’t even be a Zulu word for gay people: inkonkoni.

And it’s certainly not the first time a Zulu leader has gone on a homophobic rampage.

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