South Africa Xhosa king mourns Chief Ndondo

Prince Mkiva of South Africa

RENOWNED South African Xhosa imbongi Prince Zolani Mkiva was denied a chance to speak at the burial of Chief Neville Ndondo of the Xhosa in Zimbabwe, Mbembesi, on Saturday.

Prince Mkiva of South Africa
Prince Mkiva of South Africa


According to Bongani Nzombani, a local headman and nephew of Chief Ndondo, they had not been assured beforehand if Mkiva would attend the burial and therefore did not allocate a slot for him. Nzombani said by the time Mkiva arrived in the country, the programme had already been finalised and confirmed and he could therefore not be accommodated as that would have disrupted proceedings.

“I am sorry not to have given him (Mkiva) a chance. When he came, there was already a chain of speakers lined up for the burial and that could not be changed,” Nzombani said. Xhosa people around the world pay their allegiance to King Zwelonke Sigcawu of the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Local Xhosa prince Macleod Tshawe said Mkiva was not given a chance to speak during the burial of Chief Ndondo, but was allowed to witness the burial of the chief as a member of the royal household. In an interview with Southern Eye, Mkiva said he had been sent by King Sigcawu to deliver a special condolence message to the Ndondo family and Xhosa people in Zimbabwe that they were not alone in mourning the loss.

“I came to attend the funeral of Chief Ndondo. The king actually sent me to pay last respects on his behalf and to tell the family and Xhosa people that he is pained by the loss of Chief Ndondo,” Mkiva said.

“Xhosa people, regardless of geo location pay allegiance to King Sigcawu. We recognise Chief Ndondo’s role in serving the Xhosa community with diligence, dignity and respect. Chief Ndondo was exemplary and he never let the Xhosa people down.

“Chief Ndondo made a milestone record by reconnecting the Xhosas in Zimbabwe and those in South Africa. He officially facilitated the visit of King Sigcawu to Zimbabwe last year. The king recognised him and made him an honorary member of the Xhosa royal family. The king presented him with a blanket and beads as somebody honoured and of substance,” Mkiva said.

He said they were working on opening a Xhosa school that would teach Xhosa.

Mkiva, who is the chief executive officer of the Xhosa Royal Council in South Africa, was recently honoured and presented with the “Order of Ikhamanga in Silver” by President Jacob Zuma for achieving international reputation in praise poetry and being an outstanding champion of African oral traditions. He was the praise singer at the inauguration of the late South African President
Nelson Mandela in 1994 and subsequently became the president’s official praise singer.

The burial was attended by Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, Transport minister Obert Mpofu, among others. Chief Ndondo, who was installed as chief in 2010, died of renal failure at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo on June 30.