King Zwelonke's coronation marks new beginning – Zuma

2015-05-16 14:05
(City Press)

(City Press)

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Nqadu  - The coronation of King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu as the king of AmaXhosa is a culmination of a painful exercise the democratic government undertook when it set up the Nhlapo Commission to investigate the authenticity of traditional leadership and correct the wrongs of the past, says President Jacob Zuma.

Zuma yesterday delivered the keynote address on the historic day which saw the first king to be installed by the democratic government in Nqadu Great Place near Willowvale in the Eastern Cape.

Zuma saluted King Sigcawu by his praise name, Ah! Zwelonke and asked the king, who had earlier been sworn-in by Eastern Cape judge president Themba Sangoni, to take his seat at the podium and officially ascend to the throne.

“Your Majesty, it gives me great pleasure to be here and indeed to be invited to this historic occasion. This function is a first of its kind in the democratic South Africa.

“As government today, in partnership with the royal family of AmaGcaleka and AmaXhosa as a whole, we are celebrating the coronation of a king for the first time since the dawn of democracy,” said Zuma.

Unified voice

King Sigcawu was confirmed by the Nhlapo Commission in 2010 as the overall king of AmaXhosa – a nation previously divided between the AmaRharhabe and AmaGcaleka clans.

“We are further confirming the findings of the commission today, and I am happy that the traditional leaders have spoken in a unified voice about what we are today,” said Zuma.

The coronation marks the end of a painful era of colonial subjugation and oppression, and ushers in a new beginning for Africans, said Zuma.

King Sigcawu yesterday made a grand entrance accompanied by traditional attire-clad regiments, who sang his praises.

The 47-year-old king, wearing regal traditional attire, made his way to the large marquee at the Nqadu Multi-Purpose Centre to the roaring sounds of an imbongi who called on the king’s ancestors to clear the way for him and bless the day.

King Sigcawu is the first Xhosa monarch to be coronated in 50 years. His installation was attended by royalties, business leaders and politicians from around the world.

A cow for the king

Among the dignitaries was mining magnate Patrice Motsepe, who announced a R15m fund for the six royal houses in the Eastern Cape to use for agricultural projects in their communities.

The ceremony saw thousands of people from all walks of life making their way to the Nqadu Great Place.

In the morning before formal proceedings began, Zuma – accompanied by a political delegation including Co-operative Governance Minister Pravin Gordhan and ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize – went to pay homage to the king.

After a short meeting between Zuma and King Sigcawu, the two leaders emerged from one of the rondavels and made their way to a kraal, where the president presented a cow to the king, who reciprocated the gesture.

Meanwhile, guests were redirected to an additional marquee as the main one was filled to capacity.

One of the programme directors, Local Government MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane, appealed to people to go to the overflow tent to avoid a stampede. The guests relented and went where two large screens had been set up. Even accredited guests had no place at the main venue and locals were asked to make way for visitors who had been stuck at the gates, anxious to get inside.

40 traditional councils

Proceedings started with the singing of the national anthem around noon. President Zuma later handed the king his official certificate of recognition. After Zuma’s keynote speech, the king – in his reply and vote of thanks – asked the president to intervene in fighting poverty in his area.

“Mr President, my people are poor and hungry; they have no jobs, no security, no proper education. They are unemployed and depend on social grants,” he said.
He called on the president to visit the great place again to discuss how to assist the people of Nqadu.

President Zuma and King Sigcawu are known to be close, with the president having made various visits to the great place in the recent past.

The king rules over 40 traditional councils with 34 chiefs and 167 headmen. His land extends over several towns including Dutywa, Butterworth, Willowvale and Centane.

He is the descendant of King Hintsa, who is known for his bravery and was killed by British soldiers in 1835. On May 12, it was the 180th anniversary of King Hintsa’s death.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  east london  |  traditional
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