Zuma remembers Sisulu

2012-05-18 17:42

Johannesburg - Walter Sisulu, who would have turned 100 on May 18, was a strong but humble person who lived with a deep sense of purpose, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday.

Sisulu, a freedom fighter and former ANC deputy president, died in May nine years ago. His centenary birthday will be celebrated with a series of events over the coming year.

On Friday, celebrations kicked off with a fund-raising breakfast for the Walter Sisulu University Foundation in Johannesburg.

Zuma said Sisulu's life was a reminder to the nation that it had "an abiding responsibility" to guard its hard-earned democracy.

Zuma extended his best wishes to the Sisulu family, saying Sisulu was remembered as an outstanding South African freedom fighter, statesman and leader.


His former cellmate and Rivonia trialist, Ahmed Kathrada, told the gathering that Sisulu was passionate about education.

"Despite having no formal education, he was an educated man because what Walter showed was that you do not need a certificate to be educated."

Kathrada spent an hour reminiscing about his old friend, telling stories of Sisulu's generosity and courage.

For the last four years of their incarceration, before being freed by the apartheid government in 1989, the two men were cellmates.

He would go singing

In one of their many conversations, Kathrada said Sisulu told him if he was sent to the gallows he would go singing.

"We must do this for the sake of our youth, so that they know, from our strong voices, that we went without fear and that our deaths were not the end of the liberation movement," Sisulu told him.

Sisulu's daughter-in-law and biographer, Elinor Sisulu, said there was often speculation about why Sisulu had dropped out of school and battled to read and write.

"Despite his lack of formal education, he was able to hold his own with great intellects."

Elinor said she suspected her father-in-law had suffered from dyslexia, which had limited his formal learning.

"It is disabilities like this that we have to consider in education to ensure people don't fall by the wayside," she said.

  • Michele - 2012-05-18 17:52

    Sisulu was the complete opposite to our Dear President, his only purpose has been self enrichment for he and his family, keep his own backside out of jail and try to bed every woman possible. He has very little interest in the day to day plight of ordinary South Africans until of course it is election time !

  • mholthuysen - 2012-05-18 17:59

    Well Mr. Zuma maybe you should take some examples from the dignity and humbleness the forefathers of the ANC showed. Quite frankly your nepotistic, corrupt and non-caring ANC of 2012 with your lame duck leadership does not feature in the principles of Sisulu, Mandela, Pixley ka Isaka Seme or Sol Plaatje.

  • Sussan - 2012-05-18 18:49

    ANC dont have the welfare of their people at heart any more, just the rich will be richer,the poor poorer

  • jaco.fridaystreet - 2012-05-18 19:04

    Just hope it(you know what I mean?) wasn't hanging out as he was struggling to read his pages and pages of type written speech. Hahaha

  • Phuti - 2012-05-18 21:07

    mr sisulu must be turning in his grave with the kind of weak leaders we have now.they only care abt their pockets & families not the masses who elected them in power.y wud the ANC settle for Mr Zuma?

  • John - 2012-05-19 00:58

    Dignity and humbleness, maybe. But these people were terrorists and racists, and their spiritual successors remain true to that legacy of hatred and violence.

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