Bethlehem, Palestine – On December 10th, 2015, his majesty King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu of the Xhosa people in South Africa visited the Bethlehem Museum as part of his official tour of Palestine. After visiting the Church of the Nativity on Thursday afternoon, his majesty arrived to the Bethlehem Museum along with his retinue, where he was received by Eng. Anthony Habash, Regional Director of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF). Eng. Habash accompanied his majesty on a tour around the Museum. He explained that the Bethlehem Museum is a recently inaugurated project of HCEF and the Arab Women’s Union that serves to preserve Palestinian heritage and culture with a special emphasis on Bethlehem; endeavoring to reach the world with a message of peace from the Holy Land.
Eng. Habash thanked his majesty for his support of the Palestinian cause and expressed how important it is to the Palestinian people to be visited by the King of the Xhosa people, the same people from which the great Nelson Mandela descended. He also noted that Palestine is struggling against one of the harshest occupations in human history, and that the situation is no different than the apartheid faced by South Africa from 1948-1994. He emphasized that what Palestine needs today, is to follow in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela.
His Majesty King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu expressed appreciation for visiting the Bethlehem Museum and for the opportunity to learn more about the Palestinian people, their culture, and the many similarities they share. His majesty also graciously stated that the Bethlehem Museum plays a key role in non-violent resistance. In the spirit of Xhosa rituals, his majesty, along with his retinue, placed their hands on the “Cross of Palestine,” to symbolize their solidarity.
At the end of the tour, Eng. Habash presented his majesty with the “Key of Palestine” as a symbol of peace, indicating Palestine as a second home to the Xhosa people, offering the message that it is not walls that bring peace to a region, but bridges.
Earlier in the week, his majesty King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu presented President Mahmoud Abbas with the King Hintsa Bravery award initiated in 1999 and bestowed upon those who have made virtuous contributions to humanity and to the South African people.