‘Revisit his lessons’ - Families of former ANC presidents pay their respects in Inanda

2013-12-11 00:00

THE families of four former ANC presidents paid their respects to Nelson Mandela at Ohlange High School in Inanda yesterday.

While about 100 former and current world leaders gathered with the masses at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service at FNB Stadium in Gauteng, relatives of Pixley ka Seme, Josiah Gumede, Chief Albert Luthuli and Dr Langalibalele Dube paid their respects by laying flowers and lighting candles at the feet of Madiba’s bronze sculpture.

The site, near Dube’s house in Inanda, is important in South African history as this is where Madiba cast his vote during the first democratic elections in 1994.

ANC eThekwini regional chairperson Sibongiseni Dhlomo and other leaders, Zambia’s Transport Minister Yamfwa Mukanga, Trinidad and Tobago Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz and Chad’s Civil Aviation and National Meteorology Minister Haoua Acyl Ahmat Aghabach, all paid their respects to the struggle hero.

On the sidelines of the service, the first ANC Youth League president Anton Lembede’s daughter, Sbongile, said if the country was to emulate the works of Mandela, and to regain the trust of the youth, the current ANC leadership needed to fulfil the promises they made, and not just before elections.

“Madiba left us with so many messages and lessons, and one of those was education and equal opportunities for young people.

“The youth of today feel disenfranchised and disillusioned because of unfulfilled promises … Service delivery shouldn’t be withheld until voting time and there should be more youth educational programmes, as this was one of Madiba’s visions,” said Lembede.

His humour was also highlighted as speakers took to the podium to relay messages from their families.

Pixley ka Seme’s grandson, Vezindaba, said young people would gossip about Madiba, saying he was too democratic.

“We saw him as a symbol of unity, but at times we would question his move to involve the oppressors in every aspect of our government.

“Even in hotels the waiter would come and ask, ‘Mr President, is it going to be tea or coffee?’ He would respond and say, ‘That decision shall be taken by the NEC of the ANC.’ He always had that sense of humour,” said Vezindaba, to cheers and laughter.

All present, including the foreign dignitaries who took time off from the five-day International Air Services conference held at the Durban ICC, celebrated Madiba’s life and work.

Zambia’s Mukanga said Madiba’s death was mourned in his country too.

“When he came out of Robben Island, ours was one of the first countries he visited. His stance to reconcile with his oppressors and pave the way for a democratic South Africa for all remains an accomplishment never expected from someone who has been jailed for so many years for standing up against the injustices of the time.

“We have lost a great man and visionary, but the baton remains with us to carry on with the race for a better future for all,” said Mukanga.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Cadiz said, “In my country even primary school children knew Madiba. There are no words to express how we feel about his death. He has offered a lot, not only to South Africa, but the African continent and the world at large. This indeed is a sad day for the whole world.”

Chad’s Aghabach said politicians should take Madiba as an example of how to lead the people.

“We are hurt and saddened by Madiba’s death. Who else would have unjustly served more than 20 years in jail, and come out and embrace their oppressor?”

Sibongiseni Dhlomo (ANC Ethekwini Regional Chairperson) and Zandile Gumede (ANC Regional Treasurer) light a candle at a memorial service at Ohlange High School in Inanda outside Durban.. This is the place where Nelson Mandela cast his vote on 27 April 1994.

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