Loza was great, but most unsung

2017-10-12 06:01
OPINIONThembile Ndabeni

OPINIONThembile Ndabeni

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Late ANC stalwart Walter Sisulu was certainly not above the people he mentored in his political lifetime, people like Nelson Mandela.

Even though he had joined the movement much earlier than the latter, he seemed content operating in the shadows of Madiba.

Be that as it may, Tata Sisulu was widely acknowledged for the role he had played in our Struggle for liberation.

However, there are other people, like the late Elijah Loza, from Gugulethu who remain largely unknown. Loza mentored the likes of Chris Hani and Archie Sibeko, the ANC veteran and author of the book Roll of Honour: Western Cape ANC comrades: 1953-1963.

In the book, Sibeko equates his political role model and mentor, Elijah Loza, to the likes of Looksmart Solwandle Ngudle. According to Sibeko, the two were the greatest heroes in the Struggle against Apartheid in this region. As Sibeko would have it, Loza saved the ANC from the intimidation tactics applied by the Africanists who broke away from the ANC.

“He saved the ANC from intimidation from the Africanists to join the newly formed PAC. Loza led the youth in defeating the Africanists attempts.”

The youths also blocked attempts by Bantustan leader Kaiser Matanzima from entering the hall in Langa in order to deliver a speech.

Mantanzima was a puppet, and chief window-dresser of the apartheid Regime.

Loza’s band of youth also blocked the appointment of collaborationist Urban Councillors from behind people’s backs.

Loza was also responsible for chasing away African policemen living in the townships, as they were perceived as spies, and therefore could not be tolerated.

Loza is also recognized for giving military training to Chris Hani and Zolile Nqose who later became prominent in the liberation Struggle. Nqose became one of the highest ranking soldiers in the post-apartheid army, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

Loza’s commitment and conduct in the struggle ultimately led to his arrest.

He is recognised for also having steadfastly refused to give information on his comrades.

He was killed in detention, after suffering sustained torture. Should Loza have talked, the likes of Christmas “Com T” Tinto, Zolile Malindi and Oscar Mpetha would have been imprisoned for treason.

That would have not only broken down the ANC but the United Democratic Front. These activists (Tinto, Malindi, Mpetha) participated in the formation of the UDF and the leadership would have not been strong enough to sustain the Struggle.

Sibeko says in the book Loza’s prowess was proven when he led the youth desk of the UDF.

August 02, 2017 marked the 40th anniversary of the death of this compatriot who sacrificed, together with his family for the Struggle.

Even as he gave up the ghost, it was with great affliction.

Has Loza been awarded any accolade, and what about his family?

Sibeko also mentions Mama Nellie Jibiliza in his book, thus:

“At their funerals, they may not have received the tributes they should have from those who knew their contributions and sacrifices in their younger days.”

As for Loza, his life ended abruptly, and some in the ruling party who never even threw a stone, do not even think of his sacrifices.

All there is about Elijah Loza is a street named after him, but, is that all there should be?

There was no 40th anniversary marking his demise. Perhaps, if their memories serve them well, those in power will celebrate his 50th?

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