Cyril's father was 'a fine gentleman who loved books' - Ramaphosa's sister

2018-02-18 06:01
Ivy Ramaphosa. (City Press)

Ivy Ramaphosa. (City Press)

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President Cyril Ramaphosa’s father, Samuel, lived with very little hope that one day South Africa would have a black president.

That one day, one of the country’s leaders would be his own son, was beyond the realm of the possible for him.

Ivy Ramaphosa, the recently elected president’s older and only sister, remembers how their father used to say: "'This land is for whites. It will never happen that a black man will become a president here. Never'."

“At the time, Matamela was just a fine gentleman who loved his books, read a lot and was a churchgoer. We also never thought one of these good days he will be up there as president of this very same country, but God’s will has just happened.

“I’m sure wherever he is, my father is smiling. As for the family, we may never have thought of it, but when he won the ANC presidential race at Nasrec in December, we knew this day was coming.”

City Press interviewed Ivy in the lounge of the family’s house in Mhlaba Street, Chiawelo, Soweto, on Thursday. This is where Ramaphosa grew up with Ivy and their brother Douglas.

Ivy bears a striking resemblance to her younger brother. She beamed with pride as she watched her brother address Parliament after he had been sworn in as president.

She nodded in agreement as he promised: “I will work very hard not to disappoint the people of South Africa.”

She responded: “Indeed, he is a hard worker. He is a peace-loving person who will definitely move South Africa forward. I trust him.”

As soon as Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng declared Ramaphosa the new president, Ivy’s phone began ringing with calls from relatives and friends asking how she felt and whether she was watching the TV. Sometimes speaking in Tshivenda, she told them how happy she was.

After she was interviewed live on TV, the calls kept coming. She answered and promised to call them back.

“People are happy. Those are family members from as far as Venda and all over, as well as friends. They are very happy for Matamela,” she said.

In December, Ivy jumped up from the same couch, struggling to hold back tears of joy as her brother was announced the new leader of the ANC at the party’s elective conference at Nasrec, Johannesburg.

“We met some time later and he told me: ‘Hey, it was really tough at Nasrec, but I’m happy it is all over now.’ He was really happy, I could tell,” Ivy recalled.

She said the family recently gathered for what was more of a prayer meeting than a celebration. “We thanked God for taking him to where he was as the ANC leader and asked Him to be with him. He has been to churches, were he was prayed for,” Ivy said.

While the family knows they’ll be seeing even less of him, they are planning to have a celebration and also to thank God.

“We’re expecting him to come home to Chiawelo a tlo gata mabala to set foot home where it all started as a way of appeasing his ancestors. He will be expected to look around the neighbourhood here, just like all over the country, so he gets a better understanding of what people want and need,” she said.

Has it sunk in that her brother is president?

“I’ve been listening to them in Parliament now referring to him as ‘honourable president’. I will get used to it and will sleep well now because this is what we’ve been waiting for since Nasrec. God’s will has now prevailed.”

In Limpopo, where Ramaphosa went to school, VhaVenda kingdom spokesperson Chief Livhuwani Matsila said: “The VhaVenda kingdom has received the news with extreme joy and a sense of pride of having produced a leader of his stature and calibre. Ululations and praises are reverberating throughout our rural villages and the atmosphere is reminiscent of celebrations befitting the installation of a king of kings.”

He said Ramaphosa had given them hope that the country’s rural areas would be transformed.

"Indeed, he is a hard worker. He is a peace-loving person who will definitely move SA forward. I trust him.‘‘

Read more on:    anc  |  cyril ramaphosa

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