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Celebrating Cultural Diversity during the Mpondo Culture and Heritage Festival 14-16 September 2018

By Stella Sigcau

People from various walks of life and from various parts of the world including Switzerland and the Republic of Botswana are expected to converge to Ntabankulu the scenic and mountainous part of the Mpondo Kingdom (South Africa), which is surrounded by the great and magnificent Mzimvubu River to celebrate the Mpondo Culture and Heritage Festival.

Photo: 2017 Mpondo Culture and Heritage Festival

The Festival was launched in 2006 in commemoration of Nkosi Ntsikayezwe Sigcau (1947-1996), an ANC activist and stalwart, who made a meaningful and significant contribution in the liberation struggle of South Africa.

It was also launched to share and develop Mpondo culture, history and heritage, promote tourism, rural and cultural development, attract investment and promote unity in a diversity of cultures. Since 2018 is declared the year of the liberation icons the late President Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu and also the year mama Winnie Mandela passed on, this year’s festival will be dedicated to their selfless sacrifices in fighting for a free and united South Africa, through the theme, “unity in a diversity of cultures: celebrating as one, sharing our diverse cultures”.

Culture Ambassador and well known musician from Botswana Casper the Golden Voice who is the recipient of the King Jongilizwe Sigcau International Award 2014 and Ms Verena Gauthier CEO of Impulse an NGO based in Switzerland, recipient of the Princess Stella Sigcau II Award 2012, a humanitarian whose work has touched many lives all over the world including the Mpondo Kingdom will be leading their respective delegations from their relative countries to the Mpondo Kingdom to share their cultures and also celebrate with amaMpondo. Since they have been working with the Traditional Council on youth and cultural development and having been part of this Festival for over 10 years they will be receiving certificates of appreciation from the Lwandlolubomvu Traditional Council and Ntabankulu Municipality who are major stakeholders in this Festival.

The partnership between Lwandlolubomvu and Impulse initiated by iNkosi eNkulu Nzululwazi Jongilanga Sigcau when he travelled to Switzerland in 2004 to attend the ten years celebrations of South Africa’s democracy hosted by South African Embassy in Switzerland, led to an MoU on youth and cultural development signed, saw a number of students including the Dumezweni Senior Secondary School travelling as culture Ambassadors to Switzerland and Swiss Cultural groups performing during the Mpondo Festival, workshops on child abuse conducted to mention a few.

Expected to attend are representatives from various Kingdoms and Chieftainships including Pedi, Ndebele, Swati, Hlubi, Zulu, Shangaan, Tswana, Xesibe, Sotho, Thembu, Xhosa, Bhaca etc, tourists as well dignitaries including members of the diplomatic corps, government and business. Over 25 000 people are expected to attend. 2017 celebrations were attended by approximately 20 000. The number this year is expected to increase.

The Festival will be preceded by the Mpondo Reed Dance on the 14 September, The main festival on 15 September will include performances from artists and traditional groups from Mpondoland, various parts of South Africa and beyond. The activities will also include exhibitions by SMMEs, Mpondo horse parade (umkhwelo) and conferring of Awards to outstanding personalities who continue to make a difference locally, nationally and internationally in various ways.

Queen Masarhili Award will be launched in honour of the late Queen who was the daughter of the legendary King Sarhili of the Xhosa Kingdom who fought colonialism. She was mother to King Sigcau of the Mpondo Kingdom whose resistance of the colonial powers led to him being arrested and sent to Robben Island in the 1800s. She was the great wife to King Mqikela the son of the legendary King Faku who is known as the King who consolidated a very powerful Mpondo Kingdom which would be the last Kingdom to be colonized in the Southern Sahara region. She was also the grandmother to the legendary King Marhelane who was one of the founding Kings of the African National Congress in 1912.

The closing ceremony on 16 September will include performances by amabandla.

The annual Mpondo Culture and Heritage Festival is an important event that was established for the preservation and promotion of the values and way of life of the Mpondo people as well as promotion of unity in a diversity of cultures, and has grown throughout the years since it was initiated, with esteemed dignitaries turning up to grace the occasion, as is expected for this year as well. In its inception, it was the first of its kind in the Eastern Cape and continues to promote cultural diversity. It also exposes Eastern Cape diverse cultural and traditional heritage.



October/November 2019











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