The National Heritage Council congratulated the AmaXhosa king, Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcau, whose coronation took place at Nqadu Great Place on 15 May 2015. The President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma attended the ceremony together with many other royals.
This was a historic occasion. According to reports, it has been more than 50 years since a coronation of this nature has been held. As befitting the coronation of a king in our democracy, where traditional leaders are afforded genuine respect and status, the government has fully supported the coronation. It will indeed be a right royal affair. Thousands of well-wishers, visitors and followers will be descending on Nqadu to participate in this momentous event.
The blood of heroes runs in King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcau’s veins. Of amaTshawe royal lineage, he is a descendant of the great eighteenth-century Xhosa kings Phalo and Gcaleka, His ancestors, Hintsa and Sarhili, were instrumental in fighting the advance of colonialism in the nineteenth century. King Hintsa was killed in 1835 resisting colonial conquest.
Just as his ancestors faced the challenges of the day, King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcau has an important role to play in helping his people confront the challenges of today. Poverty, inequality and unemployment are critical challenges facing many Xhosa people. The Xhosa have a rich and bountiful heritage. Cultural and heritage tourism provide one potential mechanism for addressing these issues.
As the NHC we have noted that the King has already travelled to several parts of the country to address his subjects on a range of issues. He has also displayed sagacious leadership in condemning xenophobia and the destruction of heritage artefacts.
As King, he has an important role to play in promoting social cohesion and moral regeneration. Traditional leadership is ideally placed to contribute to rebuilding the moral fibre of our nation. As the custodian of the traditions, heritage and cultural practices of his people, the King has a significant role in promoting values like Ubuntu and stimulating the moral renewal of society.
The community should be reminded on this day, of their noble history as created by the Xhosa Kings who were super statesmen and military generals who excelled during the Colonial Era. There are many other cultural edifices and events that should be recreated into some form of social capital to address present day problem in the area.
Passing on these stories to the younger generation will help to deepen their understanding of history and help entrench the values that were embraced by generations of traditional leaders. The lineage and role of traditional leaders is also a concrete study in indigenous knowledge and the application of leadership in rural areas, and the creative lessons from progressive indigenous leaders.
The NHC encourages and facilitates critical reflection on matters of national identity and the collective experience on the road to freedom. It also utilises such space and opportunity to stimulate interest on our rich cultural heritage and the role of rural areas in providing leaders and many brave people who occupied the frontline of the evolution of the South African society with all its conflicts and contradictions.
Adv. Sonwabile Mancotywa
CEO, National Heritage Council