King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu was laid to rest  at Nqadu Great Place in Gatyana. The King was given special official funeral. Picture: BHEKI RADEBE
King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu was laid to rest at Nqadu Great Place in Gatyana. The King was given special official funeral. Picture: BHEKI RADEBE

AmaXhosa King Zwelonke Sigcawu was a true patriot, unifier

By SITHANDIWE VELAPHI Time of article published Nov 30, 2019

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WILLOWVALE - XHOSA king Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu wanted to meet former president Thabo Mbeki to discuss the attacks on foreigners living in South Africa.

Mbeki said this at the funeral of the monarch at Nqadu Great Place in Willowvale, Eastern Cape. The funeral was attended by thousands including President Cyril Ramaphosa, traditional leaders, politicians and business people.

The king was honoured with a Special Official Funeral Category 1.

Sigcawu died at the age of 51 at the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital, Mthatha, on November 14 after he complained about “chest pains and excessive cold”.

Mbeki said Sigcawu, during his coronation in May 2015, made the call that the country had the responsibility to address challenges it was facing.

“He mentioned these by name and, among others, firmly denounced attacks against foreign nationals resident in our country. Calling out, ‘Down with xenophobia’, his majesty King Zwelonke Sigcawu took this struggle as his own.

“Some time before he passed away, he directed that he and I would have to meet to discuss what should be done to respond to these challenges. I told his majesty that I was on standby to meet him whenever he had time to.

“I deeply regret that that particular occasion did not arise, though I had the honour to interact with his majesty on other public occasions, including the days when he visited our family a number of times during the period of the passing away of my mother, Nomaka Mbeki,” said Mbeki.

Ramaphosa described Sigcawu as a great leader and unifier, adding that the Xhosa kingdom needed to take forward the debate about the return of King Hintsa’s skull from Britain.

King Hintsa kaKhawuta, who was in the direct lineage of Sigcawu, was killed by the British forces in 1835. His skull was taken to Britain and has never returned.

Ramaphosa said the king “understood too well the enduring impact of the bitter legacy of colonialism and apartheid on the consciousness of his people”.

“One of his most passionate causes was that of colonial reparations, and that the former colonisers should publicly acknowledge their role in the brutalisation and dispossession inflicted not just on AmaXhosa but on all national groups in South Africa.

“Until the very end, he was engaging with government to get support for a mission to visit the British royal family to discuss the brutal killing of King Hintsa in 1835 and to lobby for the return of the king’s remains.”

Ramaphosa said even though the king had been critical on issues of service delivery, he remained a patriot.

“He was vocal about the need for increased constitutional responsibilities for traditional leaders and critical about government’s pace of service delivery, but remained a patriot and a proud South African.

“Through his projects - the King Zwelonke Legacy Project and the King Zwelonke Foundation - he fervently championed community development, moral regeneration, education and agricultural projects.

“He believed that traditional leaders are servants of the people and should lead by example,” said Ramaphosa.

Prince Zolile Burns-Ncamashe, from the Rharhabe royal house, the support house of the Xhosas’ Phalo house, said Sigcawue had much respect for people.

Sigcawu is survived by his mother Queen Nozamile Sigcawu, his wives Queen Sive and Queen Simanye and their children.


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