Read President Ramaphosa’s eulogy for Her Majesty Unkosazana Nomsa Jeanette Noloyiso Zulu-Sandile

The eulogy was delivered by the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Mr Gwede Mantashe on behalf of President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Official Funeral Service of Her Majesty Unkosazana Nomsa Jeanette Noloyiso Zulu-Sandile. The queen passed away last week from COVID-19.

The full eulogy is below.

Program Directors, 
Members of the family of the late Queen,
Members of the Zulu Royal House, the family of the late Queen,
Your Majesties,
Archbishop of the Ethiopian Episcopal Church, the Rt. Reverend Dr. Ngesi
Ministers and MEC’s
Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders, Inkosi Mahlangu, Ndzundza!
Traditional leaders present,
Members of the amaRharhabe Kingdom
Fellow mourners,

On behalf of President Cyril Ramaphosa, government and the people of the Republic of South Africa, I wish to offer my deep and profound condolences to the family and to the AmaRharhabe Kingdom at large on the passing of Her Majesty Queen Noloyiso Sandile. 

We have lost a great leader, and a steadfast matriarch of the most noble character. 

A woman is the cornerstone of society. She is the foundation upon which a home and a nation is built. 

The late Queen was not a mother to her children alone, but a mother to the whole AmaRharharbe nation. Her home was not enclosed by four walls, but was in the community, amongst her people. 

Her life has been tragically cut short, but even in death she continues to impart a positive legacy to our nation. 

She succumbed to the devastating virus that is sweeping across our country; and I wish to thank the royal family for disclosing her condition. 

At a time when so many of our people live in fear and uncertainty, we have to break any stigma that exists around coronavirus, so that the ill and the vulnerable can be cared for, loved and supported. 

Coronavirus is a very real threat to us all. But becoming infected with this respiratory disease is nothing to be ashamed of, nor is it any reason to discriminate against others.

As a family your actions will serve to encourage respect, tolerance and acceptance, virtues the late Queen stood for throughout her life.

Queen Sandile was a woman of valour. She was from a long and illustrious royal line and was the daughter of the late King Cyprian Bhekuzulu ka Solomon and the sister of His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini.

She assumed the throne as Queen Regent in 2011 at the most difficult of times, following the passing of His Majesty King Maxhobayakhawuleza Sandile, Ah! Zanesizwe!

It could not have been easy to be elevated to a position of leadership at such a time. She was grief-stricken and mourning her husband, and her children were still young. 

And yet she clearly understood her duty to her family and to her people. 

In her veins flowed the blood of Queen Suthu the mother of King Mgolombane Sandile, and of Rharhabe ka Phalo, the pioneer of the Rharhabe Kingdom. But she also carried with her the spirits of Charlotte Maxeke, Cecilia Makiwane, Dora Nginza, Winnie Nomzamo Mandela, Albertina Sisulu and the legions of women pioneers this country has produced.

She was the embodiment of principled servant leadership, following in the footsteps of Princess Emma Sandile, the daughter of King Mgolombane Sandile. Princess Emma was part of the first contingent of AmaRharhabe royalty to receive formal education at Zonnebloem in Cape Town in 1857.

Princess Emma Sandile became the first African woman in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa to own land in her own name. I know that Princess Emma was a great inspiration to our beloved Queen Noloyiso Sandile.

The empowerment of women was a cause that was dear to the Queen. 

She understood only too well, as we do, that enabling women to take their rightful place in all sectors of society is key to the health of any nation. 

She did not hesitate to speak out against regressive practices that held women and girls back from realizing their full potential. She abhorred gender-based violence, discrimination against women, the prevention of women owning land or property, and women falling victim to cultural practices that relegated them to a lower status than men.

In tribute to the late Queen, as government we will continue to engage with the National House of Traditional Leaders in their quest to address and overcome outdated cultural practices and laws that are discriminatory towards women and girls. 

The hallmark of progressive leadership is being able to move with the times. By adapting to the demands of modern society, all the while firmly retaining proud traditions passed down through the centuries, the institution of traditional leadership will continue to thrive and retain the confidence of the people. 

Queen Noloyiso was a proud traditionalist, but she was also a modern leader. They are not mutually exclusive, but mutually reinforcing. We can be confident that her legacy continues to inspire young women in her community and across the country.

Another aspect of her legacy of which we can be proud is the integrity she displayed since assuming the duties of leadership. Her regency was characterised by unity and provided stability to the kingdom. 

The proud institution of traditional leadership is greatly disadvantaged when disputes over succession unfortunately find their way into the public space and generate news headlines. The first and most ideal option should always be to resolve these disputes internally within the Royal Households. 

Our kings and queens are an integral part of South Africa’s past, her present and her future. As government we stand ready, willing and prepared to ensure this great institution is preserved for time to come. An institution that exemplifies dignity and honour. 

Our traditional leaders are our partners in development, something the late Queen fully understood and appreciated. 

There are no ‘royal issues’ or ‘traditional issues’, there are issues that face us all as a nation. The many challenges we face as a country can only be overcome if we work together, side by side. 

The grave threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic is not one of the urban areas alone, of the rich or of the poor. The passing of the Queen as a result of coronavirus serves as a stark reminder that none of us are immune.

It is only through our vigilance, and our extreme caution to protect ourselves and those around us, that we will overcome this pandemic. 

I have no doubt that had she lived, our Queen would have been at the forefront of educating our communities, in leading by example, in encouraging acceptance of those infected with coronavirus, and in caring for the ill. 

She was a leader, but was known for her humility, her great compassion and her community activism. She understood the greatest duty of leadership is to be ever-present amongst the people, and to be alive to their concerns and needs.

We look forward to working with the Crown Prince Jonguxolo in addressing the many challenges this community faces, foremost amongst them economic underdevelopment, land degradation and poverty. 

The Queen was a visionary, it was her dream to see this community turned into a center of development and progress, and for the living conditions of her people to improve. We owe it to her legacy to see this dream fulfilled.

As we bid a fond farewell to our Queen, we wish the Royal family and the entire Rharhabe Kingdom together with its fraternal Kingship of amaGcaleka peace and comfort during this moment of grief and pain.

But we are assured that she has left behind a legacy of good works, of strong leadership, and of activism in the community. She will be sorely missed.

I thank you.

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