How Many Wives Did Mangosuthu Buthelezi Have? The Family History of the South African Icon


Mangosuthu Buthelezi, a leading figure in South African history and the founder of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), has often been the subject of many discussions, especially about his marital life. Born in 1928, Buthelezi was a part of the Zulu royal family, which practiced polygamy, sparking the curiosity: how many wives Mangosuthu Buthelezi have? To answer the burning question, he was married twice in his lifetime, with his first wife being Princess Irene Audrey Thandekile Mzila whom he married in 1952.

  1. Buthelezi’s Family Background
  2. Summary of how many wives Mangosuthu Buthelezi have
  3. Buthelezi’s Father’s Wives
  4. Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s Marital History
  5. Opposition and Collaboration
  6. Conclusion

Buthelezi’s Family Background

Mangosuthu Buthelezi was deeply rooted in Zulu royalty. His mother, Princess Magogo, was a significant figure herself, being the granddaughter of King Cetshwayo and the sister of King Solomon. This lineage has its legacy, as his great-grandfather served as the prime minister during King Cetshwayo’s reign.

Summary of how many wives Mangosuthu Buthelezi have

Date Event Summary
1928 Mangosuthu Buthelezi is born Born into the Zulu royal family, Buthelezi’s roots trace back to King Cetshwayo.
1952 Marriage to Princess Irene Their union lasted for over 60 years, depicting Buthelezi’s commitment to one wife.
1975 Founding of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) Buthelezi’s leadership of the IFP marked significant political influence in South Africa.
2004 Buthelezi’s retirement from politics Despite retirement, his influence remained, passing away in 2021 at 92.

Buthelezi’s Father’s Wives

In 1923, a union between Princess Magogo and Mathole Buthelezi was formed. Mathole Buthelezi, being a chief of the Buthelezi clan, had a staggering number of up to 40 wives. This marriage between Magogo and Mathole was an effort orchestrated by King Solomon to mend the rift between the clan and the royal family.

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Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s Marital History

Shedding light on the question, “how many wives Mangosuthu Buthelezi have,” we understand he married twice. His longstanding marriage with Princess Irene Audrey Thandekile Mzila began in 1952 and lasted over 60 years until her unfortunate demise in 2019. In the context of his cultural backdrop, where polygamy was a norm, Buthelezi’s choice to stay committed to one woman at a time stands out.

Opposition and Collaboration

Buthelezi’s influence wasn’t limited to his royal heritage. Politically, he was a firm opponent of apartheid. Yet, his journey was not without criticism. Allegations of him collaborating with the white minority government surfaced, suggesting a strategy to weaken Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC).


Mangosuthu Buthelezi remains an intricate figure in South African history. While he was a traditional leader, he was also a modern-day politician, balancing his beliefs, responsibilities, and challenges. It’s essential to reflect on Buthelezi’s personal life, intertwined with his political legacy, to comprehend the man behind the name fully.


1. How many wives Mangosuthu Buthelezi have?
Mangosuthu Buthelezi was married twice.

2. Who was Buthelezi’s first wife?
His first wife was Princess Irene Audrey Thandekile Mzila.

3. Was polygamy common in the Zulu culture?
Yes, polygamy was a common practice, evident by Buthelezi’s father having up to 40 wives.

4. Did Mangosuthu Buthelezi oppose apartheid?
Yes, he was a vocal opponent of apartheid but also faced criticism for his alleged collaborations.

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— by Nihal Mehta