It’s not every day that a real life Zulu king comes to Brecon but over the past few years a close personal relationship has grown between Wales and the Zulu nation in Kwazulu Natal, resulting in a visit this July of Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu.
Two years ago, Brecon saw the visit of Queen Mantfombi with an impressive 100-strong Zulu entourage.
2019 is the 140th anniversary of the Anglo-Zulu wars, known for the Battle of Isandlwana and famously for Rorke’s Drift, and to coincide with the anniversary, a series of events are planned.
Not usually open to the public, the Army Barracks on The Watton plays host to a cultural and historical pageant to welcome King Goodwill on Sunday July 21 from 1pm. Winners of the King Goodwill Youth Art Competition will be presented to the king.
The event is free and will feature performances by local choirs and bands and will climax with Beating The Retreat.
On Monday, July 22, Brecon Cathedral stages a Welsh Concert with Brecon Male Voice Choir, harpist Emily Harris and soloists Emily Pugh and Ben Anthony. The evening starts at 7.30pm and is compered by Sir Tim Ackroyd.
The cathedral will also be hosting a welcome Evensong for the King at 3pm on Saturday, July 20.
Tuesday and Wednesday, July 23 and 24 see performances at Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon of Jerry Pooe’s Cetshwayo. The musical is based on the life of King Cetshwayo, and tells the story of the Anglo-Zulu wars, his subsequent capture and his visit to London and meeting with Queen Victoria.
During this historical Brecon visit, King Goodwill will be presented with a specially commissioned illustrated map created by artist Roger Reese, showing the highlights of King Cetshwayo’s time in London in 1882.
In addition, a children’s book written by Janet Holcroft, about the life of King Cetshwayo is released and includes artwork by pupils from Llanfaes School, Mount Street School, Cradoc School and Christ College.
The King Goodwill visit to Brecon has been organised by the Friends of the Royal Welsh Regimental Museum in conjunction with the Army and has been supported by the Armed Forces Covenant and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The King Goodwill Pageant at Brecon Barracks has free admission. Tickets for the Welsh Concert at Brecon Cathedral and the Cetshwayo Musical at Theatr Brycheiniog are available from the theatre box office on 01874 611622.