AbaThembu and amaMpondo won’t cancel celebrations in honour of amaXhosa king

The late AmaXhosa monarch, King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu.
The late AmaXhosa monarch, King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu.
Image: Lulamile Feni

Two royal houses in the Eastern Cape have announced they will not instruct their subjects to stop celebrations to mourn the passing of amaXhosa King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu.

AmaMpondo King Ndamase Ndamase and abaThembu royal spokesperson Thandisizwe Mtirara said while they grieved with the amaXhosa kingdom, they would not heed their call to cancel initiation and wedding plans.

This comes after the amaXhosa royal family announced this week that Sigcawu would be mourned for a year and that initiations and weddings should be postponed for this period.

AmaXhosa royal house spokesperson Prince Xhanti Sigcawu said while they could not force anyone to do so, celebrations should be called off until the mourning period was over.

An estimated 35,000 boys are set to go to the mountains in the summer initiation season in December.

The announcement sparked a public outcry from parents who are planning to send their boys to the bush, as well as those soon to be wed.

Ndamase told the Dispatch he had already accepted invitations to more than 10 imigidi (homecoming ceremonies) in December.

“It will be unfair to expect those people, who have been saving for a year, to now cancel everything,” he said.

Asked if he would instruct his subjects to cancel their plans, Ndamase said: “We can’t. There are financial implications.

“Traditionally, everyone should cancel celebrations when a king has passed on, but we can never impose restrictions on anyone because people have their democratic right to do whatever they want.

“It will depend on a person’s conscience and how much they respect their culture and tradition,” said Ndamase.

Mtirara said: “My nation won’t be taking part in the mourning. Each nation has its own way of doing things.

“We respect and grieve with the amaXhosa and our King Zanelizwe will tomorrow visit Nqadu Great Place to pay respect to the kingdom. We won't wait for the funeral on November 29.”

Traditional affairs expert Loyiso Nqevu said the amaXhosa and amaRharhabe were directly affected and that other nations may mourn out of courtesy.

On social media on Wednesday, reactions included shock, relief and humour at the amaXhosa announcement.

One user, Kamohelo Matiyase, said: “There are those boys who are celebrating right now because they were so scared to go there, some of them their souls are saved for this year.”

Thozama Kampini said the king had never set foot in her hometown of Stutterheim and questioned his authority.

Sigcawu also announced the cancellation of the popular Xhosa carnival, hosted by the late king at his Nqadu Great Place every December.

AmaRharhabe royal house spokesperson Prince Zolile Burns-Ncamashe said while people could engage in sex, they should not “overindulge” during this time.

malibongwed@dispatch.co.za

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