LAUNCH OF THE BIOGRAPHY OF MR ISHWAR RAMLUTCHMAN MABHEKA ZULU
PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
TRADITIONAL PRIME MINISTER TO THE ZULU MONARCH AND NATIONFOUNDER AND PRESIDENT EMERITUS OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
Umhlanga: 18 March 2023
The man of the hour, Mr Ishwar Ramlutchman Mabheka Zulu, President of theSivananda World Peace and Community Development Foundation, and his lovely wifeMrs Eswari Ramlutchman;Her Royal Highness Queen Nompumulelo Zulu of Enyokeni;The Deputy Minister of Health, the Hon. Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo;The KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the Hon.Ms Bongi Sithole-Moloi;Consul of the Republic of India in Durban, Mr Prem Sagar Kesarapu;The Hon. Mr Velenkosini Hlabisa MPL, President of the IFP and Leader of the OfficialOpposition in KwaZulu-Natal;His Worship the Mayor of King Cetshwayo District Municipality, Councillor AT Ntuli;Mrs Mathabo Kunene, the Executive Managing Trustee of the Mazisi Kunene Museum;Ms Ela Gandhi of the Phoenix Settlement Trust and the Gandhi Development Trust;Distinguished guests and friends.
Before I begin my remarks, allow to say how grateful I am to His Majesty King MisuzulukaZwelithini for the kind message of support he has sent for this occasion.
We feel the absence today of His Majesty King Goodwill Zweltihini kaBhekuzulu, whoenjoyed such a long and close friendship with Mr Ishwar Ramlutchman. The message ofsupport from his son, King Misuzulu kaZwelithini closes that gap for us and allows us tocelebrate this occasion with both tears and joy.
It would have been a time of purerejoicing had His Majesty our late King been able to witness this moment himself. I knowthat he would have been very proud of his son, Mr Ramlutchman Mabheka Zulu.
I cannot tell you how much pleasure it gives me to stand before you on this occasion andlaunch the biography of Mr Ramlutchman. This young man has been a friend not only tome, but to the Zulu Nation and to the people of KwaZulu-Natal, for decades. He is one ofthe most remarkable philanthropists I have had the pleasure of knowing; a builder ofbridges across cultures and a unifying force wherever there is diversity.
One should never be surprised to see Mr Ramlutchman in traditional Zulu attire, just as Imyself am often in the attire of the East. Mr Essop Pahad used to refer to me as an“Indo-Zulu”, and I am proud of that. My grandson, Mabheka, is certainly a Zulu-Indian.He and I share this special bond between cultures.
I have watched Mr Ramlutchman grow from a young man under the mentorship of SriSwami Sahajananda, to become an example to us all of servant leadership. If onesought to understand the concept of an entrepreneurial spirit, Mr Ramlutchman couldprovide the benchmark. He has excelled in business, in community development and innation-building.
But of all the accolades one could heap on his head, to me the greatest measure of theman is the unwavering loyalty he gave to our late King, His Majesty King GoodwillZwelithini kaBhekuzulu. It was a tremendous source of comfort to me to know that mylate nephew had the support and friendship of a man like Mr Ramlutchman. Theircloseness was always a blessing.
Indeed, when we grieved the loss of His Majesty our late King in 2021, my thoughtsturned to Mr Ramlutchman just as his thoughts turned to me. I was grateful for thecomfort and support that he provided in that very painful time, to me and to my family. Itwas just one more expression of the wonderful friendship he has always shown towardsme.
So when he told me, in 2019, that his biography was being written, and invited me tocontribute the Foreword to it, I was truly honoured. He deserves every word of praisethat I could give. I would like, therefore, as we launch this important biography, to readyou the Foreword I wrote, for it expresses the fullness of my admiration and respect forMr Ishwar Ramlutchman.
In the words of Sri Swami Sivananda, Founder of the Divine Life Society, “The highestuse of life is to live in the service of all beings.”
“The life’s journey of Mr Ishwar Ramlutchman Mabheka Zulu spans little morethan four decades. Yet the details of his life could fill several volumes, for Ishwar hasdone the work of a lifetime in philanthropic service.
For now, we will have to be content with one volume. But I have no doubt that the bookyou hold in your hands will become Volume One in a great series, for this story is stillbeing written.
Throughout my life I have pursued social cohesion and reconciliation. I have beenhumbled to be called a Zulu Indian, because of my close friendship with the Indiancommunity in South Africa. To me, it is essential to build bridges across cultures,bringing diverse people together.
I am therefore quick to recognize a kindred spirit. When I met a very young IshwarRamlutchman at the ashram of Sri Swami Sahajananda in Durban, some twenty yearsago, I saw in him a natural bridge-builder.
He was already serving on the Board of the Divine Life Society and his commitment toSwami Sahajananda Saraswati was remarkable.
Swamiji and I shared a vision for educating South Africa’s children and assisting themost vulnerable. Through our friendship, and the ensuing partnership between theKwaZulu Government and the Divine Life Society, we built thousands of classrooms,clinics and care centres, crèches, skills training centres and homes for children and theelderly. The Divine Life Society was a much-needed powerhouse of humanitarian action.
Ishwar and I became close because of the work of Swami Sahajananda, but ourfriendship continued based on the work of Ishwar himself. He excelled at selflessservice, living out the injunction of Swami Sivananda to put life to its highest use.
What struck me most was that Ishwar was not working just for the Indian community.
Hehas done more for struggling black communities than many black philanthropiststhemselves.
His Indian roots are clearly important to him. He serves as Executive Vice President ofthe Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin, as Honorary Patron of the Divine LifeSociety in Rishikesh, and through the Sivananda World Peace Foundation, which heleads as President, he arranges Diwali celebrations and supports the International Dayof Yoga.
But as much as he encourages us to attend the functions of the Indian community, heidentifies completely with the Zulu people as well, joining us whenever we performtraditional rites and ceremonies. He has immersed himself in Zulu culture, learning ourtraditions and honouring our values, while still remaining fully Indian.
It is not difficult to see why His Majesty the King of the Zulu Nation has embraced Ishwaras a “son”, giving him the name “Mabheka Zulu”, and asking him to serve on theIngonyama Trust Board. It is not merely that Ishwar walks so easily in two cultures, butthat he does it with great dignity and wisdom.
It is out of love for the people of South Africa that he serves. The knowledge that he isserving his country is his only reward.
Accordingly, he is known throughout South Africa, but particularly in KwaZulu Natal, forhis philanthropy and devotion to peace. He is that rarest of human beings who walks thetalk. Rarer still, he knows both how to make money and how to give it away.
From a young age Ishwar won awards for his entrepreneurial spirit and businessacumen. His capacity for creating success in business has enabled him to sowgenerously into projects that strengthen communities, empower the next generation, andmeet the immediate needs of vulnerable families.
He has built houses and education centres. He has sown into conservation, educationand community development. He has, in fact, come to embody the spirit of ubuntu botho.
I admire that he is an active citizen and an humanitarian. I also admire that he is a manof his word. Before the passing of Swami Sahajananda in 2007, Ishwar made acommitment to Swamiji to erect eight Sivananda Peace Pillars across South Africa.These Peace Pillars, found throughout the world, are a tangible reminder of the need to
build bridges between diverse people. They are inscribed with the teachings of amultitude of religions, chosen to reflect the universality of the ideal of peace.I had the honour of unveiling the first of Ishwar’s Peace Pillars in 2009, together with theKing of the Zulu Nation and the Head of the Nazareth Baptist Church. Within three yearsall eight Peace Pillars had been unveiled. But Ishwar did not stop there. He went beyondhis original commitment, erecting further Peace Pillars in many communities.
In Mitchell Park in Durban, one such Pillar is flanked by busts of former President Nelson Mandela and His Majesty the King of the Zulu Nation, exemplifying the message of unity in diversity, peace and nation-building.
It has been a pleasure watching the growth of Ishwar Ramlutchman, from a youth underthe mentorship of Swami Sahajananda, to a man who leads us by example. I considerhim and his family a part of my own family. I am therefore delighted to see his life storybeing told.
Mr Ishwar Ramlutchman Mabheka Zulu has taken charge of his destiny and is doingwhat he believes must be done. He has not waited for luck in business, or a calling tophilanthropy. Instead, he has worked hard to become the man his faith calls him to be.
I am proud to know him.”
These are the words in the Foreword to the book before us. What follows is an accountof a remarkable life. It is my hope that this book will be read far and wide, and willbecome a manual of sorts for those who seek to serve.
I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Mr Ramlutchman, for I more than anyone perhaps,know how time-consuming and complex a matter it is to commit to paper the extensive
details of one’s life. I thank him for giving us this gift of insight into his life and character.And I wish him strength for the next volume as he continues his journey.
I thank you.