Man mar­ries dead fi­ancée, and buries her

Un­con­ven­tional event en­joyed by friends, fam­ily

Sunday Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - LUNGANI ZUNGU

EVEN death could not keep them part. Jab­u­lani Dlung­wane, 51, who lives in Osindis­weni town­ship out­side Veru­lam, wed­ded his sweet­heart, Sin­disiwe Khu­malo, last week­end.

But this wed­ding was some­what dif­fer­ent, be­cause Khu­malo was dead, hav­ing suc­cumbed to di­a­betes a week ear­lier.

In­stead of bury­ing fi­ancée, Dlung­wane kept his his prom­ise and mar­ried her while she lay in her cof­fin in a tra­di­tional wed­ding at­tended by peo­ple from the com­mu­nity.

“I was hon­our­ing her wish,” said Dlung­wane, who de­scribed his re­la­tion­ship with Khu­malo as blos­som­ing.

A jovial mood pre­vailed among the guests at Dlung­wane’s house.

Khu­malo was buried later the same day.

Dur­ing the wed­ding, Dlung­wane was clad in his tra­di­tional at­tire made of cowhide, (ib­heshu). He stood next to the cof­fin while rel­a­tives ul­u­lated and danced around, as some stunned mem­bers of the com­mu­nity watched on.

In the real sense of a Zulu tra­di­tional wed­ding, the crowd ul­u­lated while Dlung­wane made his tra­di­tional dance near the cof­fin which was wrapped with a blan­ket.

He said: “We had al­ready de­cided on the date. Un­for­tu­nately, my wife died be­fore our wed­ding which was set to hap­pen in the next two weeks. I had to hon­our her, even in death. I loved her with all my heart.”

Dlung­wane still speaks of his wife in the present tense. He said he over­came the odds that were stacked against him and his wife.

“But noth­ing deters me from giv­ing her the love that she de­serves,” he said.

He said he has faced a bar­rage of crit­i­cism from peo­ple.

“I have been blamed for mar­ry­ing my wife when she was dead but I don’t care. I did what I wanted to do and I’m happy and I know she is happy wher­ever she is,” he said.

Com­ment­ing on the prac­tice, inkosi Phathi­sizwe Chiliza, chair­per­son of the house of tra­di­tional lead­ers, who is well vested on tra­di­tional mat­ters, ex­pressed con­cerns on how Dlung­wane had han­dled the process.

He said the prac­tise of mar­ry­ing the dead was done in Zulu cul­ture, but the cer­e­mony was not to be pub­lic, but con­fined only to the fam­ily.

“It is done,” said Chiliza. “He was sup­posed to per­form this pri­vately with the fam­ily of his wife and later bury her with dig­nity.

“It de­fies our tra­di­tion when peo­ple ul­u­late at a funeral. It is not sup­posed to be.”

A neigh­bour who at­tended the wed­ding-cum-funeral, Bhekinkosi Chiliza, 55, said he had never ex­pe­ri­enced such an event be­fore.

“It was my first time to see such a wed­ding. I’m now ap­proach­ing my 60s but I have never seen some­thing like this. I’m baf­fled, to say the least.

“Peo­ple are free to do things in which­ever way they want. I’m not God, I can­not be point­ing fin­gers,” Chiliza said.

He said he was one of the many guests who feasted on the slaugh­tered cow and guz­zled tra­di­tional beer.

An­other neigh­bour, Joseph Mtha­lane, 49, said it was a mar­vel to at­tend the cer­e­mony.

“I’m happy for him and you see he is also happy for what he has done. I com­mend him for be­ing brave be­cause we don’t know what they dis­cussed with his wife be­fore she died.”

Mtha­lane said his friend­ship with Dlung­wane spanned decades. Dlung­wane said he will mourn his wife.

PIC­TURE: DOC­TOR NG­COBO/ AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)

Jab­u­lani Dlung­wane hold­ing a pic­ture of his fi­ancée, Sin­disiwe Khu­malo.

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