In December 2012, His Royal Highness Unathi Phathuxolo Mtirara, CEO of Opera South Africa and a member of the AbaThembu Royal family, married a celebrated soprano Nonhlanhla Yende in a traditional Xhosa royal wedding ceremony held in the Eastern Cape. The couple already has beautiful 2 year old daughter, Zamadlomo Mtirara.

We recently had an opportunity to hear more about the wedding from His Royal Highness! Ahh! Phath’uxolo!:

Traditional Xhosa Wedding HRH Unathi Phathuxolo Mtirara Nonhlanhla Yende2jpg Traditional Xhosa Royal Wedding for inspirational Opera Musicians

XC: For those who don’t know who His Royal Highness Unathi Phathuxolo Mtirara is, can you please tell us who he is?

HRH:  I am the great grandson of the late Regent King of AbaThembu, regent King Jogintaba, i was born and grew up in the village of Mqhekezweni just outside Mthatha, the first born of the last born of Chief Justice Zwelivumile’s children. I am the founder (along with my wife) and CEO of Opera South Africa which we founded 2 years ago.

XC: Just to step back in history a bit, could you please enlighten us so as to how you relate to the revered Regents, Regent King Jongintaba Dalindyebo Mtirara, Inkosi Bambilanga Mtirara and King Sabatha Jonguhlanga Dalindyebo?


HRH: Regent King Jongintaba is my Great Grand Father, Inkosi Bambilanga and King Sabatha Dalindyebo are his brothers’ sons that makes them my grand uncles


XC: Why do you think it’s important for Xhosa people to practice their culture in the 21st century, especially as it relates to marriage and family life?


HRH: As the young African generation (even more with us Xhosa’s) we tend to follow the western traditions when we do things. This leaves our cultures and traditions not relevant to us and we end up undermining who we are as the people. I think it’s more important to keep reminding us who we are, what our forefathers did, celebrate the beauty of our culture, our food and all.

Traditional Xhosa Wedding HRH Unathi Phathuxolo Mtirara Nonhlanhla Yende Traditional Xhosa Royal Wedding for inspirational Opera Musicians

XC: Could you please tell us how you met your wife?

HRH:  We met in 2003 when we used to sing for community choirs, we grew close and became friends for about 5 years. In 2007 I was working for a company at the State Theatre. There was a position available and I needed someone to assist me with the project so she was a perfect candidate as she had the qualifications and the interest in music. As time went on, life circumstances pushed us together and we started dating in 2008.

XC: These days, Xhosa people (and African people in general) tend to prefer a western wedding instead of a traditional Xhosa wedding. Why did you decide to do a traditional Xhosa wedding? Or perhaps did you do both as is the norm in certain instances.


HRH:  As I have said earlier, we decided to do the traditional wedding because our generation is not that interested in following our culture and that according to me threatens our culture and the existence of Xhosa people. We wanted to show not only our guests, but the world, the beauty of the Xhosa culture, our clothing and way of life. As decedents of the Thembu Royal Family, we wanted to be in touch with our people with what they know best (culture). As they say, its every little girls dream (white wedding), we will still do it maybe at a later stage, we just wanted to celebrate our cultures first before going to other peoples’ cultures.


Traditional Xhosa Wedding HRH Unathi Phathuxolo Mtirara Nonhlanhla Yende3 Traditional Xhosa Royal Wedding for inspirational Opera Musicians


XC: So, what inspired the bride’s beautiful dress?


HRH: Umbhaco is our traditional Xhosa dress for women. I consulted the best people in the village to make the original dress along with its beads. As we welcome her to the Royal Family, she will have a lot of events that she will have to attend and for me it’s very important that she attends them in our traditional dress code.


XC: What advice would you like to give to those who are still looking for a wife… what are some of the important characteristics and qualities of a wife, especially as we celebrate Valentines’ day?


HRH:  Simple, don’t look for a wife, look for a partner. Someone who will compliment you, someone who will be your friend, and someone you can easily share all your problems and she can be also be able to do same with you. Then a wife will just come out of her on its own.

XC: Thank you for your time!!!