WATCH | Tradition meets state: AmaXhosa king Zwelonke Mpendulo Sigcawu laid to rest

“The first of its kind”, said Officer Commanding Area Military Health Unit Lt-Col Yoliswa Senokwanyane, describing the meeting of state and tradition in honouring the late AmaXhosa king Zwelonke Mpendulo Sigcawu.

Sigcawu died on November 14 2019.

President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the funeral a category one state affair, leading to a finely executed mix of traditional and military honours.

Tears flowed as early as 5am as the immediate family gathered for a private vigil in the Great Place just outside Willowvale in  the Eastern Cape, the king’s home.

Tradition gave way to military honours as the lion and leopard skins were replaced by the SA flag, the country’s most important colours.

The highest ranking SANDF officials bore the weight of the late Xhosa king, carrying him into the service, attended by thousands.

Chiefs, kings and prominent SA leaders littered the densely-packed marquee.

The roar that swept through the crowd as former president Thabo Mbeki took to the podium was unmatched throughout the day.

Mbeki spoke to the life of a man who gave his life to addressing societal problems faced by SA.

After the service, the elite were led to the burial ground, a sacred place where those of the royal household are laid to rest.

The king was gently lowered into his grave and saluted by SANDF generals.

Xhosa chieftains followed suit, with the sobs of Sigcawu’s former wife echoing in the background.

The royal household has not yet announced who his successor will be.

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