No warrior would flee the homophobic field of battle
King Zwelithini cowers behind claims of misinterpretation while taxpayers. including gays and lesbians, fund his royal lifestyle
If I was truly black (and I've been told I am not), then perhaps I would have stood a better chance of understanding Zulu monarch Goodwill Zwelithini.
I'd understand the rituals, traditions and beliefs that this 63-year-old king has inherited from an impressive lineage that stretches as long and far as the rolling hills of KwaZulu-Natal.
I'd understand, as a woman, the desire of young girls whose breasts are still growing and whose virginity is intact, to cover the lower part of their bodies in reeds to dance for a king.
If I was a daughter whose ancestry was connected like synapses to the bloodlines of a Zulu matriarch, I might understand the homophobic words of an ageing king.
But I'm not. I'm a klong, an amaColoured, the result of an intricate mixing of all sorts of bloodlines. Where I began, I will never quite know.
In this culture-less state, I should, I suppose, refrain from criticising that of which I am not part. But my klong status allows me, as an outsider, to say this: king or no king, there are some things that are not acceptable and what King Zwelithini reportedly said on Sunday was not.
"Traditionally, there were no people who engaged in same- sex relationships. There was nothing like that and if you do it, you must know that you are rotten. I don't care how you feel about it. If you do it, you must know that it is wrong and you are rotten. Same sex is not acceptable," he reportedly said.
I don't care who bats for the boys' team or the girls' team. I do, however, care about the South African team. Saying gay people are rotten is not acceptable - whether it is uttered by a prince or a peasant.
When this country decided to legislate the Civil Union Act in 2006, it gave life to a section of our constitution that had been born in 1996 - that we are all equal.
When our country's founding fathers and mothers sat down to negotiate the new South Africa's birth certificate - the constitution - they made it clear our reconstituted country would be fundamentally different, given the unacceptable disregard for human rights that had gone before.
The king of the Zulus, the king of Jacob Zuma, is no different than many of our important leaders who say one thing when the masses ululate before them and an entirely different thing when they see their words or actions in print the very next day.
It's JZ talking about the damage Christianity has wrought on African society and the next day his fixer, Mac Maharaj, saying he had been misquoted. It is always a matter of interpretation or, in the case of the king, a case of misinterpretation.
And we, the media, are the bloody-minded culprits who misinterpret and act as the serpent in the new SA's Garden of Eden. We slither across a perfect landscape, spread whispers about factionalism and dissent, we sway minds because we have been bought or persuaded that these "leaders" must be a target of our deadly venom.
If King Zwelithini made those comments last weekend as reported, it was precisely because he felt he could. He was among his people and therefore had licence to speak his mind.
And we, the people of this country, who might have gay colleagues, gay friends and who might be gay, are supposed to be fine with the king's comments. It's culture, some people say. He is the monarch, the king of the Zulus.
The true irony is that this king - unlike the royals from the Bafokeng, but so like many other kings out there - is dependent on the largesse of the state for his lifestyle and purchase of a fresh set of skins for when he celebrates the 133rd anniversary of the Zulus klapping the British at the Battle of Isandlwana.
The homosexuals among and amid us - the taxpaying gays and lesbians - are the king's financial backers. Each year, his royal household puts out the begging plates, like Zulu Oliver Twists, saying to the good men of the Treasury: "Please sir, I want some more."
I hope King Zwelithini realises that perhaps, just perhaps, the skins he wore at Isandlwana last Sunday might have been bought by the taxes paid by the rotten and unpalatable gays that he so clearly holds in contempt.
And that, like all those politicians who act dumb when they've spectacularly messed up, his household's pathetic platitude of misinterpretation, misquoting and misinformation is sometimes just not good enough.
A true leader of his people would be a man - a real man - and stand by his statements, instead of cowering behind a prince's royal rebuttal. How proud would the kings who defeated the children of the Boers and the Brits be of their son, King Goodwill Zwelithini, if he stood his ground?
So who is the rotten one now? The gays or the king hotfooting it out of the homophobic field of battle?