His Majesty King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu (Aah Zwelonke!) was born on 4 April 1968 at Nqadu Royal Palace in KuGatyane in the Eastern Cape. He was the eldest son of King Xolilizwe Mzikayise Sigcawu (Aah Xolilizwe!) and his biological mother, Queen Nozamile Sigcawu. He was adopted according to custom to be the heir and the eldest son of Queen Nondwe Sigcawu (Queen Mother of amaXhosa) of the Great House.
King Zwelonke received his primary and secondary school education in Cofimvaba, where he grew up under the hand of Nkosi Jongintaba Ngubo. He furthered his education at Arthur Mfebe Senior Secondary School and Freemantle Boys High School respectively. He also studied at the Jongilizwe College in Tsolo, an academy that used to prepare future traditional leaders and heritage practitioners for their envisaged roles and responsibilities in preserving, protecting and promoting the institution of traditional leadership.
When he came of age, he passed through the Xhosa rite of passage from boyhood to manhood and after graduating, he was conferred with a salutation name of Zwelenkosi, which was later changed to Zwelonke after his coronation as King of amaXhosa.
In his early 30s he was anointed as a Senior Traditional Leader of Ibhotwe Traditional Council at Nqadu Royal Palace, where he chaired the meetings of the Council and also presided over Traditional Court cases. It is here where he displayed his talents and skills as an efficient and meticulous leader.
In 2006 King Zwelonke ascended to the throne after the passing on of his legendary father the previous year. Following a customary ceremony, he was anointed as the rightful heir and successor to King Xolilizwe.
King Zwelonke was an outspoken and fearless figure, and yet very constructive in his approach. He was committed to championing rural economic development, and women and youth empowerment. His Majesty believed in engaging directly with communities and leadership visibility was one of his positive principles which showed his utmost passion for the improvement of the lives of his people. King Zwelonke saw himself as a servant of his people and indeed lived among them.
He invested his personal resources in sport development, including hosting annual soccer and netball tournaments. He was also passionate about athletics and traditional horse racing.
During his reign as King of amaXhosa, he conferred the King Hintsa Bravery Award on a number of politicians and prominent people. He was an active member of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa.
King Zwelonke is the first King to be officially crowned in post-apartheid South Africa. His coronation was held on 15 May 2015, the year that also marked the 180th anniversary of the passing on of King Hintsa (Aah Zanzolo!).
King Zwelonke leaves an impeccable legacy of promoting education, cultural heritage, agriculture, tourism, the ocean economy, rural development, civil society and rebuilding the unity of amaXhosa.
King Zwelonke Sigcawu is survived by his biological mother, wives, uncles, aunts, siblings and children.
Lala ngoxolo Nkonyana Yohlanga!