As the nation mourns the passing of AmaXhosa King, Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu, the Gcaleka Traditional Council and King Sarhili Heritage Forum at St Marks village, near Cofimvaba, Eastern Cape, held a memorial service in honour of the late monarch.

King Zwelonke was raised by the Ngubo family at St Marks since he was four years old. He grew up  in Cofimvaba after his parents hid him from his community in Nqadu, as per the AmaXhosa custom, that a prince must be hidden until such time he is able to take over the reins of kingship.

He was raised by Chief Jongintaba Ngubo and his wife Nongenile Ngubo until he went back to Nqadu in Willowvale to undergo traditional initiation.

Nongenile Ngubo described him as a selfless being who showed leadership skills at a young age.

“The King came to my home in 1972 when he was only four years old. What I liked about King Mpendulo is that he was humble and he took himself as my son. Even when I visited him at Nqadu he would tell people that I am his real mother because I raised him. Even his own family at Nqadu would introduce me as Mpendulo’s mother. The reason they sent him to my house was to hide him as the son of the King so that when he is revealed to his people he is already a wise and bright man.”

Teachers at St Mark’s junior secondary school like Khumbulani Ntafane also shared the Ngubo family’s sentiments.

“King Zwelonke was a very nice student during my time. When he was there at school he was cooperative. He was a very quiet man, I feel very sorry about his death and that we will remember him about all the activities that he did during the school. When we were opening our school he donated with a beast. He always remembered what the school did to him.”

King Zwelonke passed at the time when he was planning to take further steps in the fight against the death of young boys at initiation schools.

Traditional leaders from King Sarhili Heritage Development Forum and the Gcaleka Traditional Council say they have suffered a huge blow.

Chief Mntomtsha Phomoyi of the King Sarhili Heritage Development Forum praised King Zwelonke for his love for development and the upliftment of traditional leaders.

“He loved development so much. When we started the forum he said he had an idea of building a palace at King Sarhili’s Place. He also said he wanted to build eight rondavels so that we can use it as initiation schools. So he loved development so much.”

The Nqadu Great Place says arrangements for the king’s Category One special official funeral are at an advanced stage.

The funeral will be held on Friday the 29th at Nqadu in Willowvale.