Tribute to a king who strove to uplift his subjects

Lulamile Feni, the Dispatch’s multi-award winning traditional affairs correspondent, has penned this tribute to the work of King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu.

AmaXhosa King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu, 51, who ruled for 13 years, passed away on November 14.
AmaXhosa King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu, 51, who ruled for 13 years, passed away on November 14.

The best way to honour the memory of 51-year-old AmaXhosa King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu is for his successor and the ruling AmaTshawe dynasty to embrace and continue with his legacy of developing his community and sport.

Internally, his successor must continue to strengthen unity among AmaTshawe, especially AmaGcaleka and AmaRharhabe, the two main houses of King Phalo. Zwelonke established the AmaTshawe Joint Committee, and made sure that the  executive included members from both AmaGcaleka and AmaRharhabe.

He passion for uniting AmaTshawe was triggered by the ill-treatment the two houses suffered under the apartheid system and it’s repugnant and fake “independent” homeland system, which had as its basis the fostering of animosity between the houses.

The king apparently listened to the wisdom of his elderly mother, Queen Nozamile Sigcawu, who advised him to prioritise  unity between  AmaGcaleka and AmaRharhabe.

In his 13 years on the throne, Zwelonke championed rural development, youth upliftment and the development of education, health, tourism and agriculture.

He drove the campaign for poor rural young girls to receive sanitary towels, gathering donations and personally delivering them to schools.

The king was a caring father who loved his daughters.

He adopted some schools and donated computers and tablets. He urged the education department to provide schools with maths and science teachers.

He was in the process of having a hall and hostel built for the King Xolilizwe High School, which draws hundreds of pupils from villages around Dutywa and Willowvale.

Zwelenkosi adopted the Thafalofefe Hospital in Centane and went on to donate hundreds of blankets and a number of TV sets for patients, as well as have the walls of the hospital painted.

The king was also passionate about farming, and this he supported with his House of Phalo Legacy Initiative. He used the King Zwelonke Foundation to drive all these initiatives.

Last year he launched the King Zwelonke Legacy Project to assist his nation in eradicating poverty and empower his subjects with skills.