King Goodwill Zwelithini

Heraldry in Africa
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Arthur Radburn
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King Goodwill Zwelithini

Postby Arthur Radburn » 12 Mar 2021, 13:02

King Goodwill - BoH 1975.png

King Goodwill Zwelithini of the Zulus died today. He was the first (and, to date, only) traditional leader in South Africa to register arms at the Bureau of Heraldry. The arms, designed by the Bureau, were registered in 1975 :

Arms : Argent, in pale the sceptre of the King of KwaZulu between four huts, over all in base a representation of the Royal Hut, proper.

Supporters : On a ground Sable, two lions Or, armed Argent and langued Sable.

Motto : ILEMBE LEQA AMANYE NGOKU KHALIPHA [Together we shall surmount].

King Goodwill Arms Presentation 1975.jpg

I found this photo of the presentation ceremony. The gentleman on the left is Judge Victor Hiemstra, chairman of the Heraldry Council, and I think the bearded gentleman in the red cloak is the king.

King Goodwill Flag - 1999.gif

In 1999, the king introduced a royal flag, which displays his arms below a symbolic crown. The white field represents purity, and the others colours represent the soil (black), wealth (yellow), royalty (maroon), religion (blue), vegetation (green) and defence (red).

On at least one occasion, the king issued a royal warrant to allow a company to display his arms, with the words "By Appointment To" on its products.
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Arthur Radburn
IAAH Vice-President : Heraldic Education

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Mark Henderson
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Re: King Goodwill Zwelithini

Postby Mark Henderson » 17 Mar 2021, 19:48

I like the African, or is it Zulu, shield shape.
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Mark Anthony Henderson
IAAH Fellow : Design Assistance Request Team Artist

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Arthur Radburn
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Re: King Goodwill Zwelithini

Postby Arthur Radburn » 18 Mar 2021, 13:37

Mark Henderson wrote:I like the African, or is it Zulu, shield shape.

This particular shield shape seems to be popular along the east coast of Africa. In South Africa, apart from the Zulus, it is also used by the Xhosa, and it can be found in the national arms of other countries such as Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda too.
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Arthur Radburn
IAAH Vice-President : Heraldic Education

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Michael F. McCartney
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Re: King Goodwill Zwelithini

Postby Michael F. McCartney » 22 Mar 2021, 03:57

I think that specifying the shield shape as e.g. Zulu is preferable, because there is a
quite different shield shape used by at least one other South African kingdom or tribal state (Lesotho?).

In any case, the term "African" seems a bit overbroad when a large swath of the continent has little or no shared culture - maybe specifying "East African" etc. would be better,?

FWIW the Zulu shield shape seems about the same as a European vesical seal, but I think Zulu shield is a more appropriate term in South Africa.
Last edited by Michael F. McCartney on 26 Apr 2021, 01:40, edited 1 time in total.
Michael F. McCartney
Fremont, California

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Arthur Radburn
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Re: King Goodwill Zwelithini

Postby Arthur Radburn » 22 Mar 2021, 10:24

Michael F. McCartney wrote:I think that specifying the shield shape as e.g. Zulu is preferable, because there is a
quite different shield shape used by the least one other South African kingdom or tribal state (Lesotho?).

In any case, the term "African" seems a bit overbroad when a large swath of the continent has little or no shared culture - maybe specifying "East African" etc. would be better,?

FWIW the Zulu shield shape seems about the same as a European vesical seal, but I think Zulu shield is a more appropriate term in South Africa.

The Bureau of Heraldry generally calls this shape a 'Zulu shield', a 'Xhosa shield' or an 'Nguni shield', depending on who the armiger is and where he/she/it is situated.

Interestingly, though, in this particular instance, as the blazon doesn't specify the shield shape, it would be quite correct, under heraldic principles, to depict these arms on any shape. In fact, the Bureau did once depict it on a heater-shaped shield, as part of a display panel for an exhibition.
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Arthur Radburn
IAAH Vice-President : Heraldic Education

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Michael F. McCartney
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Re: King Goodwill Zwelithini

Postby Michael F. McCartney » 01 Apr 2021, 07:22

This design will fit fairly well on a heater shield, and still be distinctive - so the Zulu shield shape isn't a necessity. (Though in some other cases, a particular Zulu or other African shield could be necessary.)

But I would think that a reasonable deference to the unique and decidedly non-European culture these arms represent, would still argue that the Zulu shield shape would be generally preferable.
Michael F. McCartney
Fremont, California

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Isaac M Schneider
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Re: King Goodwill Zwelithini

Postby Isaac M Schneider » 22 Apr 2021, 10:08

R.I.P. King Goodwill. As to the shield shape, a good naming option might be Swahili, as that language dominates most of the eastern coast of the African continent.
I might be wrong of course, but the use of the vesical shaped shield across countries in the Swahili cultural sphere might indicate it as the source of influence?
Isaac M. Schneider, Fellow
Jerusalem

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Michael F. McCartney
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Re: King Goodwill Zwelithini

Postby Michael F. McCartney » 26 Apr 2021, 01:48

Looking at the blazon from our European & American (decidedly not South African) vantage point, Swahili should work. But within South Africa, where Heraldry has at best shallow roots within the majority of the population, the relevant tribal designations seem more likely to inspire a sense of ownership in newly registered arms.
Michael F. McCartney
Fremont, California


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