It’s no surprise the Observer kowtowed to the King – he in effect owns the newspaper.
The Observer ‘unreservedly’ apologises to the ‘Monarchy and the Royal Family for any embarrassment that the article may have caused’.
The paper goes on to restate that it remains ‘committed to its mission statement which is to protect the institution of the Monarchy in particular His Majesty King Mswati III and the Queen Mother and to promote the image and the interests of the Kingdom of Swaziland without prejudice to the people of Swaziland’.
The article was an obituary for Inkhosikati LaMasuku and included information about the love life of King Sobhuza II, King Mswati’s father.
Here’s the article in full – judge for yourself whether apologies were in order.
The Observer published a second article on the same topic the following day (17 March 2012). To read that click here.
16 March 2012
SO much has been said about the circumstances around the romantic life of Inkhosikati LaMasuku and King Sobhuza II but very little has been recorded except for what was gathered by anthropologist Hilda Kuper, who told the story of the king as she saw it.
Her contemporaries may have invaluable information about her but in celebrating her well travelled journey of accomplishment in her roles as parent and wife to one of the world’s greatest statesmen we can only just look back and relive her earlier days through the very little that we can put together.
Journalist-cum-gospel artist Thabile Mdluli (nee Masuku) had a stint with the Inkhosikati, who expressed her wish to have her past documented in a book. She told Thabile that she would have loved it if the story was told or written by a woman.
It was then that I also jumped at the prospects of teaming up especially because of my close relations with the Masuku tribesmen. Of particular interest on my part was to somehow balance the gender perspectives in the writing.
It was through these informal encounters that we got the opportunity to learn slightly more about the Inkhosikati’s romantic life with the king.
We learnt of her early and humble yet strict and conservative Christian beginning, what with the family’s strong adherence to the doctrines of the South Africa General Mission (SAGM). It was at Swazi National High School where Pauline Fikelephi Masuku was part of a choir of graduating students that she first caught the king’s attention with her striking beauty, ‘tall, graceful, honey coloured, radiantly lovely’.
Princess Pholile, a daughter to King Sobhuza, was her classmate and he told his daughter to bring her to him. Kuper says “she came reluctantly and afraid”.
He spoke to her and found her as intelligent as she was beautiful. She responded to his kindness and unaggressive charm; she told him of her family and her own ambitions.’
That marked the start of a protracted romantic journey that involved love letters the king sent her via his daughter Pholile.
Because she had told him about her wishes to become a nurse, the king did not disturb this wish but continued to woo her in the fashion commoners do.
Fikelephi was very much in love especially because of the king’s gestures but back home there was this religious thing where traditional customs were loathed as ungodly. At the heart of these customs was polygamy, something that did not go down well with her. It was for this reason that she was helped by her parents to escape to South Africa, where she finally pursued her nursing in Durban and Johannesburg.
King Sobhuza was not to give up easily; he continued flooding her with those love letters and melodious messages. This again brought her closer to him because she had fallen in love with him.
Back in the land, King Sobhuza was driving from Lobamba to Lozitha when a buck came galloping past and this was rather strange given the scarcity of such game around the area so he consulted a sangoma, Guvela Mkhabela who unpacked the riddle – that the girl he was in love with was returning to him.
This is according to legend and was also captured by Kuper, who said ultimately Fikelephi was taken to Nkhaba to be initiated as a wife to the king, the Inkhosikati. At Nkhaba, under Prince Mnisi, she was exposed to her rivals and that is where she had a torrid time as she was being hated by some of the other women. “For a girl brought up in a strict Protestant mission atmosphere, it was undoubtedly an ordeal and though many of the queens, more especially laMatsebula, were patient and understanding, instructing her in the ways of tradition, a few showed their jealously in barbed taunts and spiteful tricks. Sobhuza appreciated her difficulties and decided to move her temporarily to a place of her own.”
She was taken to Hlane and for the first time recovered her happiness and freedom. That was the begging of yet another chapter in her life that saw the foundation of her family.
Fikelephi, Pauline Masuku was born on 11 October, 1927 in the Makhwane area, Ekupheleni. She was the second born of Elias Masuku and Linah Sihlongonyane of Siphocosini.
Her parents were members of the Evangelical SA General Mission (SAGM) church.
They were farmers, rooted in the Protestant faith, and not accustomed to certain African traditional customs and beliefs. She attended primary school at Makhwane and Mbabane Central. She completed her secondary education at Swazi National High in Matsapha.
His Majesty King Sobhuza II attended a musical concert at the school, where she sang in the old girls’ choir, comprised of graduate students. It was at this event where the king first noticed her. At their initial meeting, she expressed her goals of pursuing a career in nursing.
The king respected her wishes at the time. Nonetheless his interest in her remained and Princess Pholile became the main intermediary in the courtship which ensued. During the five years of evading the king, she enrolled in a nursing course at King Edward Hospital in Durban and Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg. Eventually though, the king’s wishes were realised.
In 1949, Mfundza Sukati was instructed to take her to the royal homestead of Enkhaba under Prince Mnisi, where she officially became inkosikati. After this she was moved to Lobamba before she settled at her new residence, named Hlane. This was the first western-styled residence amongst the royal residences. On 4th May, 1950 LaMasuku gave birth to her first son. The King named the child Prince Phikanebenkhosi. Following this, she gave birth to three daughters, Princesses Dlal’sile (1956), Msindvose (1960) and Nqobile (1962).
In light of the distance to Hlane, the King acquired a farm in the Masundvwini area and relocated her there in 1953. The King renamed this farm as Etjeni Royal Residence. This was the childhood residence of his Majesty King Mswati III, along with several other members of the royal family.
In the early seventies LaMasuku was instrumental in the establishment of Phocweni Primary School at Masundvwini, Dlal’sile Primary School at Hlane. She was the first member of the royal family to be baptised in the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and thus paved the way for many Swazis to join this Christian denomination.
LaMasuku experienced health problems in her later adult life. Following a long ailment, she passed away at Manzini Clinic on 10 March 2012. Hilda Kuper described her as “an intelligent, industrious, artistic and imaginative craftswoman, who kept herself busy in his absence, crocheting, sewing, embroidering, doing beautiful beadwork and cultivating a vegetable garden”.
She will be dearly remembered by her loved ones and many of those whose lives she touched.
REST IN PEACE NHLANE, MLONDO LONCAMA, THUNDA BATHOLE BAFOKAZANA BASE MZINI WENO KHOKHOZELA NJE NGE NCINAKAZI, MASUKU.