Joy as royals graduate from Fort Hare

AbaThembu acting queen Usikhumbulile Dalindyebo and AmaRharhabe spokesperson Prince Zolile Burns-Ncamashe

Two senior members from two prominent Eastern Cape royal families were among hordes of students who graduated to much fanfare at the University of Fort Hare in Alice on Wednesday.Singing, ululations and dancing were the order of the day in the AbaThembu kingdom as jailed king Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo’s daughter-in-law, acting queen Usikhumbulile Dalindyebo, graduated with a fine arts diploma while the neighbouring AmaRharhabe kingdom celebrated the graduation of Prince Zolile Burns-Ncamashe, 53, who attained a Master’s degree in social science. Usikhumbulile, 22, is married to Dalindyebo’s eldest son, AbaThembu acting king Azenathi Dalindyebo, 26. Azenathi, his mother-in-law Nowezile Zwedala and a delegation of AbaThembu attended the ceremony, while a large delegation of senior traditional leaders of AmaRharhabe, including Burns-Ncamashe’s wife Nozindzile and family, was led by AmaRharhabe queen regent Noloyiso Sandile to the graduation event.

Speaking just before being capped, Burns-Ncamashe, the spokesperson of the AmaRharhabe kingdom, said: “This achievement is an epitaph to my late dad Nkosi Zilimbola, a steward of education. “I hope this will be the source of inspiration for many young traditional leaders, so that they can see education as a weapon to extricate the institution of traditional leadership from the jaws of chronic overdependency.

” Azenathi and his delegation rose and shouted a royal salutation as his wife received her diploma. Usikhumbulule, who said “I do” in 2016 while the AbaThembu were involved in bitter royal infighting, said it was not easy balancing her schoolwork and married life. She fell pregnant with their now two-year-old son Prince Onesisa while still studying towards her degree. “In addition to those challenges, I continue supporting my husband in his campaign for the release of his father.”

Usikhumbulile has also had to adapt to and take on her responsibilities as queen. She runs a women’s sewing and beadwork project.

“This really was a thought provoking journey. But the support I received from my own mother Nowezile Zwedala, my mother-in-law Queen NoCollege and my husband was amazing. God looked after me in all those difficult years and ensured that today we all celebrate my degree.”

Sandile and Azenathi congratulated Burns-Ncamashe and Usikhumbulile, saying their achievements dispelled the notion that traditional leaders were uneducated and their wives were denied opportunities to empower themselves educationally.

Burns-Ncamashe is now busy with his PhD while Usikhumbulile is doing a bachelor of social science degree.Azenathi will graduate with a BA in communications from the University of Free State in September.