The atmosphere at Nqadu Great Place, kuGatyane, on Friday morning was that of honour and dignity as
the 12th generation King of the AmaXhosa, Zwelonke Mpendulo Sigcawu, was laid to rest.
This special funeral saw the state working together with the royal house.
In a ceremony that began early in the morning, the family carried out the rituals due to the King, before handing over to the statesmen to conduct their category-one funeral, which was behest to the King by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa also delivered the eulogy of the great AmaXhosa King who died at age 51, succumbing to kidney failure at the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha last Thursday.
Ramaphosa said the King was a champion of local economic development, who left behind a memory of dignity and honour. He hated tribalism and fought for the development of black people.
“His memory will remind us to bring service to the others. He hated tribalism with passion,” said Ramaphosa, while delivering the eulogy.
He said messages of condolences from other countries were proof that the king gave his life for the development of black people.
“Proof of his fight against tribalism which went beyond our borders is shown by the messages from other countries. He was a visionary, who with his leadership fought for social cohesion which went beyond the South African borders,” said the president.
He said that the AmaXhosa king was the first king to be recognised by the democratic South Africa back in 2015.
“It was a step we took as South Africans in reclaiming our culture when, back in 2015, the democratic government recognised him as the first king under its rule,” said Ramaphosa.
He thanked the family for allowing the state to conduct its category-one funeral.
“King Zwelonke was a gallant warrior who fought against colonialism. The AmaXhosa kingship brought inspiration to leaders who fought against political leadership and the Zwelonke Sigcawu foundation for projects of community development,” said Ramaphosa.
The King of the AmaXhosa was buried at the kraal, near his forefathers.
Speaking as the community leader, former president Thabo Mbeki said that King Zwelonke was a champion to his people and asked him, in his departure, to take the issue of drought as his own.
“When I spoke at King Xolilizwe’s funeral I said that kings don’t die as they are lent to the earth. I say the same but will ask that, as King Zwelonke goes on to our forefathers, he asks for blessings of rain for his people, as he is the son chosen to be in the bloodline of great leaders,” said Mbeki.
He said King Zwelonke believed in the liberation of his people and it was by this accord that a state funeral was bestowed on him.
“The grandson of Hintsa fought in the battle of uniting black people and showed courage in being vocal in his call to bring his father’s remains back to South Africa.
“He indeed fought a genuine struggle for the liberation of our people,” said Mbeki.
Speaking of behalf of the AbaThembu clan, Chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima said the country lost a pillar of strength by losing the King at such a tender age.
“We lost a champion willing to alleviate poverty from his people. He had the eagerness to develop rural areas as he fought for the betterment of our people,” said Chief Matanzima.
All the speakers hailed the late king of the AmaXhosa as one who was brave and vocal in his vision of seeing black people suffer to colonialism.
According to the obituary, a pre-recorded audio read out by former newsreader Noxolo Grootboom, the King was groomed and prepared for his role.
Born in 1961 by father King Xolilizwe Sigcawu and Nozamile Sigcawu, the son of the AmaXhosa King was raised in a nearby town by his uncle who groomed him for leadership.
His birthright was bound to soon take over as he went to schools like Freemantle and Jongilizwe high school, that were designated for boys from royal homes that had to be trained for leadership roles.
He leaves behind his mother, wives and children.
The funeral of the AmaXhosa king attracted dignitaries from all over South Africa. Among the guests were prominent businessman Patrice Motsepe, EFF leader Julius Malema and UDM leader Bantu Holomisa as well as other traditional leaders.