One King, two burials: The politics of funerals in South Africa's Transkei

Dennie, Garrey
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King Sabata Jonguhlanga Dalindyebo, deposed Paramount Chief of the Thembus, was buried twice. The first interment took place on 20th April 1986; the second took place on 1st October, 1989. The first interment was secretive, hasty and without salute - a pauper's burial. The second was a visible organisation of grief, a public performance, highly orchestrated, and supremely lavish - a king's burial. The first interment attracted minimal media comment; the second was a well chronicled affair receiving significant attention from both the local and international media. This paper represents some musings upon the contrasting burials of Chief Sabata Dalindyebo. Its primary aims are to explore the kinds of contests which produced the different burial rituals, [or lack thereof] and to subject the rituals themselves to closer examination in a search for their meanings. The most crucial argument advanced in this paper is that the struggles which surrounded the control of the burials of the Thembu King were urgent attempts to appropriate the dead body in a bid to inscribe and to re-write specific political messages on the corpse, and to erase others. Furthermore, the burial of Dalindyebo provided a powerful platform from which these messages could be disseminated to a larger audience.
African Studies Seminar series. Paper presented October, 1990
Burial. South Africa, South Africa. Politics and government. 1978-1989