The Coronation Ceremony of the King of AmaXhosa, His Majesty Mpendulo Sigcawu, Aah! Zwelonke! is a very noteworthy & momentous occasion. It has rekindled in many of us a sense of pride and the need for us to reconnect with our African roots.
15 May 2015 – A historic day for AmaXhosa as we witnessed the coronation of His Majesty, King Mpendulo ka Xolilizwe Sigcawu. Ahh! Zwelonke! The coronation took place at Nqadu Great Place in Willowvale, KuGatyana, Eastern Cape Province. This was the first coronation of a King in a democratic South Africa and the first in 50 years in the Xhosa Kingdom. The last one was that of His Majesty, King Xolilizwe ka Zwelidumile Sigcawu in 1965.
The month of May was chosen for one specific reason. In the Xhosa calendar, it is known as the King Hintsa month, commemorating the Great Warrior King Hintsa’s death, Ahh! Zanzolo!, who was killed on the 12th May 1835 by British troops, specifially, George Southey and Harry Smith. King Hintsa ka Khawuta, commonly known as Hintsa The Great, was born in 1789 and became the 4th paramount Chief of the Gcaleka sub-group of the Xhosa Kingdom from 1820 until his death in 1835. He played a very big role in defending the land of AmaXhosa against European colonisation and grew up in the most difficult period in the Xhosa Kingdom. He led many wars in the 100 year Wars of Resistance, sometimes known as the Frontier Wars or “Africa’s 100 Years War”, which began in 1779 until 1879. He was basically born in war, grew up in war and died in war, defending Africa and its people against the thieves from Europe who came to steal the land and the wealth of the African people.
On 11 December 1834, a Cape government commando party killed a senior Xhosa chief, which infuriated the Xhosa people, marking the beginning of the sixth War of Resistance (6th Frontier War also known as Hintsa’s war). In response to that, an army of 10,000 men, led by warrior Chief Maqoma, a brother of the chief who had been killed, swept across the frontier into the Cape Colony, and avenged the Xhosa chief’s killing. The British, led by their governor Benjamin d’Urban and Colonel Harry Smith working with Boer commandos under Piet Retief, retaliated and launched counter attacks on the Xhosa people. Chief Maqoma ka Ngqika and his other brother, Chief Tyali ka Ngqika fought bravely in that war, but unfortunately they were overwhelmed by British & Boer gunfire and their commandos and they had to retreat to the Amathole Mountains. Benjamin d’Urban believed King Hintsa ka Khawuta, Paramount Chief of the Gcaleka Xhosa, commanded authority over all og hte Xhosa tribes and therefore held him responsible for the initial attack on the Cape Colony and he and Harry Smith demanded more than 50 000 cattle as compensation for the 1834 war, and that Hintsa tell all Xhosa chiefs to stop fighting the British. Hintsa was then held captive until the terms were met. Hintsa sent word to Maqoma, his military commander, telling him to hide the cattle.
On May 12, 1835 Hintsa, who was about 45, was riding as a prisoner, his safety assured in the company of British soldiers led by Governor Harry Smith. Seeing that hee was being betrayed by the British, Hintsa tried to flee British captivity on horse back, but was chased, and Harry Smith order George Southey to shoot him. After they shot him, they then mutilated his body. That moment marked one of the worst tragedies ever to happen to the Xhosa people. From then on Xhosa people would not trust the British, as they had betrayed and killed King, Hintsa ka Khawuta.
King Zwelonke’s coronation on this day then marks the beginning of a new era in the Xhosa Kingdom. An era to restore the dignity. An era to finish the age old battle for the land of African people that was dispossessed by colonialists, as to this day, African people only own less than 20% of South Africa and the remaining 80% plus is still in the hands of white people.
It is reported that about 10 000 people, including royals from African, Britain and other parts of the world as well as dignitaries from various countries descended to Nqadu Great Place to celebrate this historic event.
President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma delivered the keynote address and handed over the certificate of recognition to King Zwelonke. The Eastern Cape Judge President Themba Sanfoni swore the King into the throne.
Many South African kings and queens, houses of traditional leaders, Contralesa all attended the event.
Also in attendance from Africa and abroad will be leaders of the Forum of Kings, Sultans, Sheiks, Chiefs and Princes of Africa, the Institute of Royalty and African diaspora, as well as South African cabinet ministers, judges, clergy members, premiers and MECs.
Zwelonke is the most senior leader of the Xhosa royal family, the leader of the Xhosa Royal Council and overall head of the Tshawe royal clan.
For many, including historians and the king himself, this will be their first time to witness such an event. Zwelonke was not yet born when his late father, King Xolilizwe Sigcawu, was inaugurated in 1965, as he was only born in 1968.
Most of the Eastern Cape and parts of the Western Cape used to be the sovereign state of the Xhosa kingdom, with the king as its supreme leader. The sovereignty of the Xhosa kingdom was liquidated after the Ninth Frontier War, which was the last war of dispossession fought between the Xhosas and British colonialists and AmaXhosa resisted with great resilience against the Britons for over 100 years.
Zwelonke is the first Xhosa king to ascend to the throne after the emancipation of South Africa from colonial and apartheid regimes.
He is the founding member of the Forum of Kings, Sultans, Sheiks, Chiefs and Princes of Africa, which was officially launched in Benghazi, Libya in 2008.
He is also the father of the Institute of African Royalty.
His coronation marks the 180th anniversary of the brutal murder of one of his most celebrated and bravest ancestors, the great King Hintsa, Ahh! Zanzolo! by the British army in 1835.
Zwelonke has honoured a number of leaders who have followed in Hintsa’s footsteps with the highest royal accolade, referred to as the King Hintsa Bravery Award, started in 1999.
After his coronation, King Zwelonke challenged South Africans not to attack foreigners but instead focus on working harder.
“Let us live in peace and work.”
The King maintained that the Xhosa kingdom is against the abuse of foreigners by South Africans.
“In the books that some of us have read, we found out that some of our politicians went to hide in other countries, fighting for the freedom of this country. They were treated well and we appreciated that.
“Please, let us tolerate each other.”
The coronation was a day full of festivities, speeches and cultural displays.
Fifteen cows, 30 sheep and 100 chickens were reportedly slaughtered for the occasion.