Having laid the anti apartheid veteran Ahmed Kathrada to rest, South Africa’s one-time President Kgalema Motlanthe surprisingly re-read Kathrada’s letter to Zuma amid loud cheers from the congregation seated at the funeral in Westpark Cemetery in Randburg, Johannesburg.
Delivering the eulogy at the funeral, the former president said that Kathrada redefined the very notion of being human as he opened the eyes of all South Africans to the state of the country’s politics.
“Kathrada saved us from the darkness of our hearts”
“There is a loftier ambition than merely to stand high, but to stoop down and lift mankind a little higher” Kgalema said pointing ou that Kathrada was deeply disturbed by the current failure of post apartheid politics”
— eNCA (@eNCA) March 29, 2017
The former president’s unexpected actions at the funeral ceremony comes at a time when many South Africans are looking to ANC structures to get a grip on the president’s destructive actions with regards to Treasury.
Many ANC stalwarts were present and like Motlanthe, religious leaders and Gauteng’s premier speaking at the funeral called for a return of the principled leadership espoused by the liberation struggle hero.
Sophia Williams-de Bruyn, the last living leader of the 1956 Women’s March, was one of the speakers. She said she’ll forever treasure Kathrada’s kind nature, and how he spoke truth to power.
At the opening prayer, Moulana Ebrahim Bham called on leaders in attendance to remember the principle: “Remain steadfast upon justice, [and move] closer towards justice, even if you are dealing with people you don’t like.”
In like manner, the Anglican church’s Archbishop Thabo Makgoba called on “courageous leaders” who are willing to defend the “victory” of the liberation movement, to raise their voices.
“In this time when evil triumphs because the good do nothing, inspire us to pick up the torch with Kathy carried,” the archbishop prayed.
“Give us grace to speak boldly when truth needs to contest power, when vision is suspect and when the culture of lies holds sway and gains of our long struggle seem to be compromised – in doing so honour the life of Kathy.”
Gauteng Premier David Makhura used his address to applaud Kathrada’s vocal criticism of ANC leader in the final stages of his life.
“Although he is silent today, comrade Kathy was never a silent man. We are here to celebrate his life because he always made his views known. Even as he lays here today, he refuses to be silent … Uncle Kathy was never silent,” Makhura said.
The premier, who is also deputy chairperson of the ANC in Gauteng, praised Kathrada and other ANC veterans who have voiced their dissatisfaction with the current ANC leader.
“[The veterans are the] voices of reason, the conscious of our movement, the guardians of our nonracial and nonsexist traditions… You must continue to speak out and draw our attention to the mistakes we may be committing,” Makhura said.
“We, as leaders, must have the humility to listen to stalwarts and veterans of our struggle. We must be angry when anyone insults our stalwarts and veterans for they represent that monumental honour, the dignity and integrity of the liberation struggle.”
“Let’s ensure that the views and voices of our struggle veterans are heard and respected,” the premier said to loud applause.
— Jeanette Chabalala (@J_chabalala) March 29, 2017
Meanwhile, Motlanthe said he has decided to break the tradition of keeping quiet on ANC troubles. He added that he would not only speak up, but also fight for what he believe is just for South Africa’s future.