A chance to meet old friends

2013-04-18 08:15

Mangosuthu Buthelezi

I am thankful to the Thatcher family and the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for inviting me to attend Baroness Margaret Thatcher’s funeral.

As I stated at the time of her passing, apart from our strong political ties, she was for me a real friend.
I could have not missed the opportunity to pay tribute to her along with thousands of people who wished her farewell in her last journey inside St Paul’s Cathedral, in the streets of London and around the world.

The funeral was a huge operation. VIP guests were required to be at Lancaster House by eight, although the funeral service only began at midday.

I felt that only the British could organise and conduct such a huge and complex operation so well and in such a style.

We were seated in the cathedral by 10 am, with the warning that no toilet facility would be available there.

As groups of participants arrived in procession, including Her Majesty the Queen, one was left in no doubt that this was a very sombre and dignified occasion.

For me it was also a wonderful opportunity to renew old acquaintances. They included former U.S. secretaries of state Dr Henry Kissinger and Prof. George Shultz. After the service I met former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, whom I last met when he awarded me Charlton Heston’s Courage under Fire award.

I also met Mr Lech Walesa, the founder of Solidarity, the great Polish trade union.

I reminded him that when the great U.S. trade union AFL-CIO created the prestigious George Meany Human Rights Award, he was its first recipient and I and the late Dr Neil Aggett were the second co-recipients.

From our own country, we were joined by our former president F.W. de Klerk and his wife, Elita, and by our Deputy High Commissioner, Bongiwe Qwabe.

Former president De Klerk and I met UK Prime Minister David Cameron, whom I reminded of my special bond with Baroness Thatcher. When he inquired about the nature of such a bond, I replied that Baroness Thatcher had supported me when I campaigned against economic sanctions and disinvestment against South Africa.

I did so because when Prime Minister Cameron visited South Africa shortly after having been elected Conservative Party leader, he apologised to our ruling party for Baroness Thatcher’s support of my campaign against sanctions and disinvestment.

The Right Reverend Richard Chartres described what Lady Thatcher had stood for.

He stated that this was a time for truth that transcends political debate, quoting Baroness Thatcher stating that we are all interdependent and part of a greater whole.

For me this resonated with our belief in ubuntu-botho.

He quoted a letter from a nine-year-old boy to Baroness Thatcher, in which the boy queried whether anyone but Jesus could do no wrong. In my mind, this resonated with one of St Paul’s letters stating that none is without sin.

I sat in the cathedral between my friend Dr Kissinger and Israeli Prime Minister Mr Benjamin Netanyahu, separated by Dr Oriani-Ambrosini [of the Inkatha Freedom Party] and an aide.

I told Netanyahu that we must remember that we all acknowledge Abraham as our father, including those who believe in Jesus the Jew and the Muslims who too regard Abraham as their father. He agreed with me.

I was grateful that I had the opportunity to offer my condolences directly to Lady Thatcher’s son, Mark, who pounded his heart when he told me that he knew the depth of my relationship with his mother.
I regret that I did not talk to his twin sister, Carol.

After the funeral I reflected how, given the chance, I would walk my political path the same way I did, and would be proud to do so with Baroness Thatcher again.

  • Bryan Culross - 2013-04-18 09:30

    What a lovely article and so directly from the heart. I enjoyed reading it.

      Phorane Kings Thokoane - 2013-04-18 13:02

      He speaks from the heart doesn't he. It is usually in people's passing that we realise the impact they had on us; but uShenge approached this like me, I always look at the best side of things, no matter how somber the situation.

      Miguel Capelo - 2013-04-22 11:28

      He is a fantastic man and I have the utmost respect for him. A true leader.

  • Isaac Mkhwanazi - 2013-04-18 09:38

    "We were seated in the cathedral by 10 am, with the warning that no toilet facility would be available there." yoh!!!!!!

      Miguel Capelo - 2013-04-22 11:30

      :-----)) Like watching Lord of THE RINGS and siting in the furthermost seat from the isle.

  • Jon Jones - 2013-04-18 10:23

    Thank you Shenge

  • Alpheus Nethononda - 2013-04-18 10:33

    Hello Ray! It was Thatcher who helped you bask in apartheid glory as Kwazulu fiefdom calling ANC freedom fighters terrorist while working in cohorts with the racists. Charles you are still politically blind in my books.

      PeterJohn - 2013-04-18 18:36

      You act as if the ANC was the only authentic voice of the struggle? As if they had a mandate from the masses - they did not. Just because they consolidated power with fear and blood, does not make them superior - please, for the love of God, read a history book!!!

  • Sphiwe Dllamini - 2013-04-18 10:54

    What a wonderful article. i enjoyed reading it! thanks for sharing with us your trip to the UK. This is what we call "public accountability"

  • Ricardo Njabulo - 2013-04-18 11:04

    what buthelzi have done got no impact in south africa

      PeterJohn - 2013-04-18 18:36

      You're an idiot.

      Bongani Nxumalo - 2013-04-19 13:15

      You are indeed a true uneducated idiot Ricardo. People like you should be banned from making public comments as they cause us embarrassment.

  • thabang.bonang.7 - 2013-04-18 11:46

    The problem I had with Buthelezi and His party IFP is that they were working with the apartheid government to push the country into what could have led to a civil war. They got weapons from the apartheid government to kill many non IFP blacks around Gauteng. Many families are still grieving the death of their loved once who died in the hands of IFP. No wonder why He got the invite

      PeterJohn - 2013-04-18 18:36

      and the ANC never slaughtered thousands of IFP supporters??

      Makgale Makgalemele - 2013-04-19 13:44

      . . . and IFP killed Tatane, Buthelezi murdered Marikana Protesters, they further killed ANC leaders in Northwest and Mpumalanga ( Chika, mohlala etc )send poor young soldiers to be killed in CAR. Thabang IFP was so bad that we are having poor quality of services in this beautiful country. Buthelezi' s education system is so inferior that we can't differentiate what is best for us. Bona wena Thabang IFP delivered weapons to ANC alliance marchers to intimidate innocent people ( check with COSATU or Vaal protesters ). Me too, have a problem with Buthelezi and IFP.

  • Boyisile Yawa - 2013-04-18 11:55

    I wonder who paid for your trip. I hope it is not my tax.

      HenriLeRiche - 2013-04-22 09:47

      Don't worry. Your tax and other's tax will be used to build the presidential "palace", Pay 5 overseas trips for holidays to Barbados for 10 ministers, fund the education of 5 minister children, including university, buy new cars for the mistresses of another 4 ministers and we can go on and on and on. Viva ANC! If only they were half the man Mangosutho Buthelezi is. THAT is ONE THING money cannot buy. Integrity.

      Miguel Capelo - 2013-04-22 11:33

      Integrity and class...

  • njabulo.vilakazi.33 - 2013-04-18 12:13

    There's no story here, only a man singing praises to what and whom he saw at St Pauls... I don't care.

      PeterJohn - 2013-04-18 18:37

      Then don't read it.

  • Sbongiseni Ngcobo - 2013-04-18 14:26

    "I felt that only the British could organise and conduct such a huge and complex operation so well and in such a style. " Maybe the IFP can do that.

  • Sbongiseni Ngcobo - 2013-04-18 14:33

    Hopefully, in your funeral, Gatsha, the IFP will allow women wearing trousers to attend. IFP supporters won't be carrying traditional weapons because that will scare the English.

      Jon Jones - 2013-04-18 14:48

      Sbongiseni 100 000 full throated shouts of 'Bayete' with full traditional regalia including traditional weapons will not scare this 'English' mlungu. It's tradition you see. And tradition is ( mostly ) a good thing.

  • Ntsika Nkabinde - 2013-04-18 15:26

    Morning Mr Ray Charles Buthelezi

      Miguel Capelo - 2013-04-22 11:35

      :-) He did look like him. Very cool if you ask me!

  • Reginald Morweng - 2013-04-18 15:33

    Pathetic how Gatsha weep for that old woman. Friends with benefits maybe?

  • Reginald Morweng - 2013-04-18 15:34

    Isnt it pathetic how Gatsha weeps for the old lady. Maybe they were friends with benefits.I hope the friends you name-drop will show up at your funeral. The true measure of friendship...

  • Mike Fraser - 2013-04-18 18:31

    And they mistook you for Ray Charles Baba Buthelezi, these friends of yours.

  • Munyaradzi Tachiona - 2013-04-18 23:23

    Nice read though ,he seem a sophisticated African to be among all those luminaries,Isn't it a worry to be liked by such like ones,Is he replacing TATA now as their favourite one.

  • Ian Ngubane - 2013-04-18 23:55

    "VIP guests were required to be at Lancaster House by eight, although the funeral service only began at midday." This is English time this time.

  • Ian Ngubane - 2013-04-18 23:56


  • Ian Ngubane - 2013-04-18 23:58

    "VIP guests were required to be at Lancaster House by eight, although the funeral service only began at midday. I felt that only the British could organise and conduct such a huge and complex operation so well and in such a style". Hawu! The funeral started 4 hours later. Now I know English time.

  • Muzi Cele - 2013-04-19 08:08

    Well said Mntwana wakwaPhindangene people must not be blind to see that it was your democratic right to do you did and by so doing you never commited any crime.Sokwalisa!!

  • Mbulelo Somzana - 2013-04-19 11:17

    TRAITOR ! Buthelezi you slept with the enemy of the people of South Africa ,Thatcher who never supported our struggle against oppression.

      Nico de Jongh - 2013-04-20 13:14

      He refuse to join the communistic regime(wiki)..the enemy of the free world and as you can see Zuma(ex-commie) has rejoin his comrades via Brics.. wake up.. the real ANC has been hijacked by greedy control freaks.

      Arthur Crisp - 2013-04-21 10:06

      Are you free???, NO you are caught up in the past, therefore you cannot build a future - you can never be free.

  • Karl Klopjag - 2013-04-19 11:37

    Ray Charles....

  • Jack Canes - 2013-04-19 12:33

    He does name a primary school boy

  • Mphumzi Sizani - 2013-04-19 13:53

    i cant stand this sellout - i couldnt even finish reading this stupid letter....he makes me sick...he should be in prison for war crimes>>>civil war he initiated with hs boere friends

      Logic - 2013-04-19 17:43

      Im afraid you are the one that is sick, sick in the head and the heart because you are so filled with hatred

  • jakesbantwini - 2013-04-20 11:13

    Vele IFP always had strong ties with those who supported apartheid, I'm not surprised at all, you bloody agent!!!

  • Louise Peter Minnie - 2013-04-20 12:30

    That is wonderful I am proud of Buthelezi - there is no beating about the bush he is honest and not afraid to be honest.

  • Mfaniseni Thusi - 2013-04-20 22:15

    Poor old man did you cry for the Mrs?

  • Piet Boerie - 2013-04-21 01:39

    Its called Hell.

  • Sandile Mlambi - 2013-04-21 03:54

    The whole thing is disgusting, I can't believe his reproach to Prime Minister Cameron for apologizing about Thatcher's support of the apartheid government. Thatcher was bad. Great thing she is six feet underground now!

  • Louw Kruger - 2013-04-21 08:34

    At least one Zulu who respect the dead and bring honour to his own.

  • Bothabo Mosoetsa - 2013-04-21 08:38

    Buthelezi the gross human right violater, you just one guy that should rot in hell.

  • Arthur Crisp - 2013-04-21 10:04

    Well written. Mangosuthu, you did what your convictions told you to do. You will be rememberd for long after some of these distractors who know nothing of what it takes to be a leader.

      Jomo Kgomo - 2013-04-21 10:46

      @Crispy - Yes, he'll be remembered negatively for all the people who were massacred by IFP during the eighties and the nineties under his life long leadership. There is a lot of evidence how IFP worked with the NP regime killing activist and non activist. If you don't believe go to SABC they have the footage. Madiba in one of his interviews he begged Buthelezi to clean his dirty linen. This is pure hypocrisy at its best. Sober S. Africans know what IFP did in this country. Ask the people of a small township near Hammersdale who were made homeless. I can tell you more but rather stop here.

  • Sunnyboy Nhlapho - 2013-04-21 16:51

    The Former Prime Minister of Britain did her best maybe.She saw things that we did not see. Even saying that the ANC Terrorist Organisation will never govern South Africa.Atleast she lived long enough to see former President Mandela as President coming to great her as both ANC and South African President.Condolences to her family and I must say we were well represented by uMntwana ka Phindangene.(on behalf of the President).

      Leonard Gcaba - 2013-04-21 20:34

      Infeel sick the same mr nhlapho, I watched closer than you did, it like disgrace to me seeing a south African embracing what? but lets move on past is past

  • Rasi Mo - 2013-04-21 20:43

    damn idiot praising his misses!

  • C. C.l Archer - 2013-04-22 02:33

    Mangosuthu Buthelezi = Uncle Tom Back in the day we'd call him a house negro, unfortunately that's what I still call them cos' we still got some house negroes running around here! - El Haji Malik El Shabazz.

  • Wa Tswera - 2013-04-22 08:11

    I still am amazed by Mr Buthelezi's ignorance on supporting the Apartheid Government.this old men is not even ashamed of his actions even today.

  • Ayanda April Ayas - 2013-04-22 09:47

    Lovely article indeed! But I think it's time for him to step down!

  • Sibonginkosi Pobietryce Ngcobo - 2013-04-22 10:19

    syathokoza Shenge

  • Arthur Crisp - 2013-04-22 12:46

    Mangosuthu, they say we die twice, the first been our physical death, the second being when the last person that has known us and can say our name dies. Long live Mangosuthu, long live - your place in South African history will always be remembered.

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