A 90th Birthday Tribute to Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi

On Monday 8th October at Yeshiva College in JHB, the Jewish community gathered in the hundreds, to pay tribute to the incredible Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, in celebration of his 90th Birthday. The SA Jewish Board of Deputies, together with the SA Zionist Federation, SA Friends of Israel, and the Office of the Chief Rabbi – hosted this event in honour of this wonderful man. 

Prince Buthelezi has always been a warm friend of the Jewish community, particularly in his home province, but also at a national level. Furthermore, at a time when standing up for Israel has become increasingly unfashionable, Prince Buthelezi’s staunch opposition to anti-Israel bias in the political arena, his advocacy of closer ties between Israel and South Africa,  and his consistent support for a peaceful, negotiated solution to the Middle East conflict has further earned him the gratitude of the South African Jewish community.   

Several addresses were made, honouring Prince Buthelezi, recounting the many times his unwavering support was received, and the friendships and experiences that have grown throughout the years. This included a welcome by Avrom Krengel (President of SAZF), followed by Chief Rabbi, Dr Warren Goldstein who delivered a Dvar Torah, and Shaun Zagnoev (Chairman of SAJBD). Ben Swartz (Chairman of SAZF), also addressed the Prince, recalling the inspiring moments they all shared on their trip to Israel, in 2014. Ambassdor Lior Keinan brought greetings from Israel, stating that “You have a place of honour not only in South Africa, but in Israel, too”. 

Rabbi Avraham Tanzer (Glenhazel Shul and Rosh Yeshiva) presented the Prince with  a Menorah – representing the light unto which he brings to the nation. And together with the grade one pupils, everyone sang Happy Birthday and rejoiced this milestone. 

The man of honour, Prince Buthelezi, then took to the podium, and addressed the welcoming and engaged audience. “From the start, I disagree with the decision taken by the ANC to downgrade South Africa’s embassy in Israel. It is short-sighted and regressive. Moreover it stands in opposition to our country’s role as a mediator for peace.” This very statement was met with loud applause. He then regaled his long and undivided friendship with Jewish familes, such as Arnold and Rosemary Zulman and Dr Mosie and Helen Suzman, whom opened their homes and hearts to the Buthelezi family during the Apartheid struggle.  Towards the end of his speech, Prince Buthelezi unappologetically said “I have no shame in telling the truth about Israel or about my friednship with the Jewish community. Indeed, I am proud” 

The audience was left in awe, but such a great, yet humble man. 

Happy 90th Birthday, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi. It is an honour and privelage to call you a friend.

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