Cow-fund­ing suitor has com­pe­ti­tion from chief

CityPress - - News - SIBONGAKONKHE NKOSI and SIZWE SAMA YENDE sizwe.yende@city­

A bas­ket­ball coach’s dream to marry King Mswati III’s eldest daugh­ter, Princess Sikhany­iso, could be dashed.

Mzwakhe Phiri (30), an owner of Dunky­laine Bas­ket­ball Academy and an aer­o­bic in­struc­tor in the king­dom’s cap­i­tal, Mba­bane, is now fac­ing com­pe­ti­tion from an­other suitor, Inkosi Sandile Ngo­mane (42), who pre­sides over the

Hhoyi Tra­di­tional Coun­cil in Mpumalanga’s Nko­mazi area.

Phiri is al­ready dat­ing the Swazi princess, but he has been un­able to raise the 50 cows he needs to open lobola ne­go­ti­a­tions with the royal fam­ily. The lobola it­self could be 300 cows or more, which has de­layed Phiri’s plans. His neigh­bours in Luh­hu­ma­neni, near Pigg’s Peak, had planned to do­nate cows to help him win Princess Sikhany­iso (30) over. But they may be too late, be­cause love ri­val Ngo­mane was seen at the reed dance in Swazi­land last week, where he made a pub­lic ges­ture of be­ing in love, known as ku­mukha, in front of the monarch and his mother, Queen Ntombi Th­wala.

In fact, he was so warmly re­ceived by the royal fam­ily that he was al­lowed to ap­proach them – gen­er­ally, no one is al­lowed to do this.

Ngo­mane con­firmed to City Press this week that he wanted to pro­pose to Princess Sikhany­iso.

“I have am­bi­tions to marry the princess, but I’ve not pro­posed to her,” he said.

Ngo­mane said that, as part of the ges­ture, he planted a feather on the princess’ head and had wanted to put a waist­band on her, but his nervousness got the bet­ter of him.

“The feather fell be­cause I was ner­vous. I picked it up and planted it on her head, but I left the band on the floor as I was too ner­vous,” he said about his first at­tempt at the courtship.

Ngo­mane said that he had been “prom­i­nent” at Princess Sikhany­iso’s birth­day cel­e­bra­tions over the past few years and was now known by the royal fam­ily. He added that cer­tain fam­ily mem­bers had urged him “to try my luck”.

“All I can say is I have not agreed to any­thing with the princess, but, if things go well, I will try to get those cows,” he said.

Un­like Phiri – a for­mer pro­fes­sional bas­ket­ball player in Italy, Mozam­bique and Fin­land – Ngo­mane is a wealthy busi­ness­man who owns sev­eral farms in Mpumalanga and is chauf­feured around in lux­ury cars.

Al­though Phiri has been seen close to some of the Swazi princes, it may seem that his pub­li­cised love af­fair with Sikhany­iso had landed him in hot wa­ter. Ru­mours on Swazi so­cial me­dia has it that heav­ily armed sol­diers raided Phiri’s apart­ment about two weeks ago and took valu­ables be­lieved to have been presents from the princess. Swazi­land’s lo­cal main­stream me­dia has stayed clear of the mat­ter for fear of the king.

Phiri re­ceived words of com­fort from friends on his Face­book page, telling him to stay strong.

The lat­est turn of events will cer­tainly shock the peo­ple of Luh­hu­ma­neni, who were hop­ing to have the princess as their neigh­bour. The sub­jects of the vil­lage chief, Prince Mnikwa Dlamini, had agreed to help Phiri raise the herd of cat­tle as lobola. Prince Mnikwa ap­proached King Mswati III’s Jo­han­nes­burg-based brother, Prince Thum­bu­muzi Dlamini, for help.

At­tempts to reach Phiri on his phone failed.

AL­LUR­ING Princess Sikhany­iso

SUITOR Chief Sandile Ngo­mane

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