Shortly after the Book of Mormon was translated into the Zulu language, eight people began a historic journey by van from Durban, South Africa, to Ulundi, capital of KwaZulu in the province of Natal.
Purpose of the recent 265-kilometer trip was to present to Dr. Mangosuthu G. Buthelezi, chief minister of KwaZulu, a copy of the Book of Mormon, which was translated into Zulu in 1987. (See Church News, Jan. 9.)Elder Spencer H. Osborn of the First Quorum of the Seventy and first counselor in the British Isles/Africa Area Presidency, presented to Dr. Buthelezi a copy of the book that had been personally autographed by President Ezra Taft Benson.
Accompanying Elder Osborn for the presentation were his wife, Avenelle; South Africa Cape Town Mission Pres. Reed C. Snow and his wife, LaNae; Durban South Africa Stake Pres. Colin Bricknel and his wife; Jennifer; and Ray Wilson, a South African resident who coordinated the Zulu translation, and his wife, Muriel.
Dr. Buthelezi is chief of South Africa's 6 million Zulus. He is equally at home in the skins, feathers and beads of his Zulu forebears as he is in well-cut business suits. His prestige is such that he has conferred with Pope John Paul II, President Ronald Reagan, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and other world leaders.
After receiving the copy of the Book of Mormon from his LDS visitors, Dr. Buthelezi said the book would be a "treasure to my people." He thanked the group for having made the long trip from Durban, and especially thanked Wilson for the many hours he had spent working on the Zulu translation.
"I have been blessed with many opportunities to have fellowhip such as we are having today," said Dr. Buthelezi, who told the group that in his leadership, "I keep Christ central to everything I do."
"I am always aware that Christian wisdom grows in its sharing. Without fellowship, one's faith can be firm but it can be firmer in fellowship. . . . Wherever there is Christian fellowship, Christ's gospel to mankind should be made central. The Bible has a timeless value for everything we are and for everything we do. I have a deep respect for those who devote their lives to the spreading of the gospel and to the distribution of the Bible.
"I feel gratefully privileged that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has wanted to present me with copies of the Zulu translation of the Book of Mormon."
He said he recognizes the need for everyone to rediscover the meaning of Christ in personal, social and national life. "I believe that we are all the children of God, and that Christ died for us all," he said. "I am one of those people who has the greatest respect for the sovereignty of the individual human being. Each of us is important enough for Christ to have died for us.
"I am aware that Christ enters different people's lives in different ways. We cannot prescribe to Him how He must go about His divine salvation of humanity. There is in the way He operates clearly a divinely appointed multi-strategy approach.
"He has given The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints its particular undertakings and responsibilities. I pray that God's richest blessings be with you as you go about discharging your specific responsibilities to yourselves, your fellow human beings and to your God."
Dr. Buthelezi told his guests he is appalled and frightened "by the divisions in each denomination and the divisions between denominations about the meaning of the gospel in today's South African circumstances."
"My people are the poorest of the poor and they suffer the most from the escalation of violence," he said.
"It is my prayer that the Zulu translation of the Book of Mormon will be a vehicle carrying the love of Christ into the hearts and minds of the people. A great deal of prayerful work has gone into the translation and production of the book. It is a great gift to the Zulu people, and I am honored to have been given this signed copy of it."
After Dr. Buthelezi made his remarks, Pres. Snow reviewed a little of the history of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Dr. Buthelezi then looked through certain parts of the book, particularly 3 Nephi, which recounts Christ's visit to the Americas.
The Zulu chief minister presented Elder Osborn with a carved, wooden Zulu "triumph stick." All men in the group received KwaZulu crested ties and cuff links; the women were given gold plated Zulu crest medallions."
Dr. Buthelezi spoke of his love for the Tabernacle Choir, and said he listens to it while traveling. He confided in the group that he had a life-long desire to sing with the Choir.