Tributes pour in for late AmaXhosa king

GIANT HAS FALLEN: AmaXhosa king Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu, seen here addressing a youth development programme at Nqadu Great Place near Willowvale in 2018, died on Thursday.
GIANT HAS FALLEN: AmaXhosa king Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu, seen here addressing a youth development programme at Nqadu Great Place near Willowvale in 2018, died on Thursday.

A person to succeed the late AmaXhosa King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu — either on regency basis or permanent — is expected to be discussed and probably announced on Saturday where all AmaTshawe's  King Phalo houses will meet to discuss a way forward.

This was confirmed by his uncle and family spokesperson, Nkosi Xhanti Sigcawu, on Friday.

King Phalo was the father of Gcaleka his senior son and Rharhabe, from his Right-Hand house. Zwelonke from the virtue of being from the lineage of Gcalek is the head of all AmaTshawe and head of the  Xhosa nation.

Sigcawu   family members  from the AmaRharhabe Kingdom, led by Queen  Noloyisio Sandile, will travel from  King William's Town to Nqadu for the meeting.

Xhanti said '' Senior government officials, nationally and provincially, are to meet with the royal family here at Nqadu Great Place [ near Willowvale] where funeral dates and other relevant matters will be discussed. The issue of a successor  will also be discussed by AmaTshawe,'' said Xhanti

He said although they had not yet agreed on a date for the funeral, November 29 or 30 had been proposed.

Speaking about the kings passing',  he said that they were taken by surprise

“The king was in and out of hospital complaining of this and that, but would come back home strong and life continued. But this time it was a surprise. He was in Cape Town over the weekend. On Monday did not feel well but went to the doctor, came back home and he looked fine,'' said Xhanti

Meanwhile, acting president Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has expressed condolences on behalf of President Cyril Ramaphosa after the death of amaXhosa king Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu.

Scores of people, ranging from political parties and royalty to business leaders and community members, also paid tribute to Sigcawu, who died at 5.30am on Thursday in Mthatha’s Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital after he was rushed there by ambulance on Wednesday evening.

He had been ill for more than a year, but the nature of his sickness was not disclosed.

Dlamini-Zuma said she was “deeply saddened”  the king’s death.

“His contribution to the development of the institution of traditional leadership is beyond measure,” she said.

Sigcawu became king of the amaXhosa in 2006.

In 2015, he was the first king to be crowned in a democratic SA, after the democratic recognition of traditional leadership.

“Our country has lost a leader who was close to his people — a torchbearer for peace and unity,” Dlamini-Zuma said.

“As government, we are proud to have worked with such a great leader.

“Kumkani Zwelonke will forever be remembered with great respect and admiration for his dedication and selflessness in serving his people.

Lala kahle Tshawe!” Dlamini-Zuma said.

Contralesa general secretary Zolani Mkiva said the king had a great love and respect for his people and their culture, and was a role model for African royalty and traditional leadership.

“The most fitting tribute the nation could pay for his majesty's exemplary work and leadership would be to continue improving the quality of lives of his people, in rural areas and peri-urban areas especially — a matter that was particularly close to his heart.

“A great leader has fallen,” Mkiva said.

The ANC nationally and provincially also paid tribute to the king for his contribution to  the development and upliftment of his community.

“King Sigcawu leaves a proud legacy for his people,” ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe said.

“The most fitting tribute that can be paid in honour of his legacy is to proceed along the path he laid — that of commitment to unite and improve the lives of his people.”

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