Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu highlighted his nation's special relationship with India on Monday.Speaking at a pre-Diwali celebration at his royal palace in Ulundi in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province, Zwelithini, 71, said, "My association with the people of India and the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, goes a long way."

We have been interacting with Indian dignitaries for years now to build good relations and transfer skills, Zwelithini said, welcoming Consul General of India Anish Ranjan and leaders from the South African Indian community.Zwelithini, who became king in 1968 after his father King Cyprian Bhekuzulu kaSolomon's death, said he was looking forward to visiting India.

"This is indeed the best demonstration of what I have stood for, in all these years, which is respect, acceptance and social cohesion. Thank you for responding to my clarion call for standing for what is good for our times and for future generations," Zwelithini said, thanking the organiser of the pre-Diwali celebration Ishwar Ramlutchman.Ramlutchman, head of the Sivananda World Peace Foundation, is the only Indian-origin South African who has been anointed as Prince of the Zulu Kingdom for his charitable work in the region.

"Benevolent deeds by Sivananda World Peace Foundation in building schools, houses for the under-privileged, and community halls is the best display of democratic practices. All this is not only about tolerance but it is also about acceptance of each other's cultures," Zwelithini said, as he watched young Indian and Zulu artists perform their individual traditional dances and also combined Indo-African dances that have evolved in South Africa.

Describing Diwali as the triumph of light over darkness, the King called on all present to leave the event committed to remain united against all the dark forces in their daily lives.Leading Indian-origin businessman Vivian Reddy, who was singled out by the King for his support, thanked the monarch for always recognising Indian cultural and religious events."King Goodwill is a leader in social cohesion initiatives in the province," Reddy said."Whenever the Indian community comes under attack from racists masquerading as community leaders, he has consistently called them to order," Reddy said.

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