TRIBUTE | Lessons learnt from the meaningful life of comrade Jackson Mthembu

Jackson Mthembu
Jackson Mthembu
Photo by Waldo Swiegers/ Bloomberg via Getty Image

Katlego Mamabolo writes that Jackson Mthembu exhausted his life in the service and protection of South Africa and her people.


"I shall not wholly die, and a great part of me will escape the grave." – Horace

The wisdom and profundity of the Roman poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus, expressed in these words, finds life and agility in our remembrance and expressions, even as his body lingers in the tomb.

It is through this facilitation, we understand it possible, that the principles, values and revolutionary commitment of comrade Jackson Mthembu to his country, its people and his movement – the African National Congress, which defined the course of his life – will find a home in the hearts of his family and general cadreship. This will be a burning torch guiding them towards the total moral, political and organisational regeneration of their movement, the African National Congress.

Lessons learnt from the meaningful life of comrade Mthembu, defined by humility and servitude, will be the extension of his life in our own lives – lessons which progressive comrades must replicate in society to ensure the consequent outcome that Mvelase remains a part of our national life.

The grave cannot wholly hold great men, their intellectual brilliance, ideological clarity, values and character. They never found residence in tombs and Mvelase is no exception. It is a fact that Jackson was a gentle giant, honest and at times vulnerable. Yet, it is through his vulnerabilities that we saw the depths of his strength. He was the embodiment of the assertation that vulnerability is not a weakness but a measure of strength.

The grave cannot wholly hold Mvelase. It is our responsibility to house that which will escape it – the good lessons, the memories, the wisdom, the commitment to better the lives of the people of this country, the ability to forge ahead in very difficult circumstances and the shared affection in a variety of degrees.

He exhausted his life in the service and protection of South Africa and her people. Therefore, it is of great importance that in honour of his name and service we strengthen and heighten our battle against Covid-19 by a recommitment to make correct decisions, through ensuring that we religiously adhere to the safety protocols and resisting the temptations of unnecessary travel.

It is our unguided energies that fuel the virus and grant it the agility to tear down the lives of our people, undermine and subject to duress the economy of our country, resulting in massive jobs losses, which give birth to many social problems, which comrade Jackson Mthembu committed himself to fighting.

Condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, comrades and compatriots. We are a nation of resilient people, with the ability to work together for the common good. We will overcome Covid-19. It will not triumph over us. Rest easy, comrade Jackson.

Katlego Mamabolo is a seasoned activist, leader of the ANCYL Crisis Committee and chief director at Rectitude Private Prosecutions. He writes in his personal capacity.

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