Item 1022 - Speech at Peter Mokaba's funeral, June 2002

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ZA COM MR-S-1022


Speech at Peter Mokaba's funeral, June 2002


  • 2002-06-15 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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Funeral of Peter Mokaba

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  • English

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I wish that I had the energy and the fitness of limbs to do a toyi-toyi today. Or the strength of voice to greet this occasion with a roaring war chant.

For that is the way many of us will remember the vitality, energy and zest of Peter Mokaba.

After the unbanning of the political organisations and our release from prison we went around the country to meet with traditional leaders. Peter Mokaba accompanied us on those trips and it was then that I particularly learnt of the leadership skills of this young man.

He was fiery and militant, expressing the energy and impatience of youth. Yet he could reach out to the traditional leaders and an older generation.

I remember one particular meeting on that trip where one of our Kings spoke out strongly against what he regarded as this strange new phenomenon called the toyi-toyi. He was adamant that he would never allow it in his kingdom.

Peter than rose to speak in measured and respectful tone, explaining to the king that the toyi-toyi was a chant and dance of resistance against apartheid and racial oppression. The traditional leaders, he pointed out, were not part of our oppressors and the toyi-toyi was not directed against them.

That many of the traditional leaders were co-opted by the apartheid regime and made to co-operate with apartheid was because we as the liberation movement were not there to give the necessary guidance, he went on to explain. The traditional leaders were part of the oppressed people and the liberation movement was on their side.

There we saw the leader of the Young Lions having the wisdom and maturity to extend the olive branch to the traditional leaders, knowing that the unity of the people and of our organisation was important to advance the struggle to which he had dedicated his life.

In the typical style of the fiery and independent Peter Mokaba, he concluded that reconciliatory speech of his by bursting into an enthusiastic toyi-toyi. And one of the then Homeland Ministers who spoke after him, opened his speech by doing a toyi-toyi! Such was the persuasiveness of Mokaba.

Many will also remember and point to some controversial statements he made during the course of his fiery political career. As many will, however, know that those statements were made under the conditions of those times of struggle. Even his detractors of that time later had to give him credit for the reconciliatory role he played when the conditions changed and new kinds of challenges arose.

He was Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in the Government of National Unity. Friend and foe alike hailed the enthusiasm and dedication he brought to his work in that portfolio. He took a singular pride in the beauty and the natural wealth of his country. The Young Lion who fought so fiercely to free his country could with equal tenderness nurture and promote his country now that it was free and democratic.

It is a tragic loss to our country and our organisation that the life of such a skilled and talented young man, so full of life and filled with a love for life, should come to such an early end.

We shall remember him for he has made and left his mark on the life of his organisation and his country. We were struck by the fact that at least one British newspaper carried an obituary of him the day after his death. He never was a person that could be ignored and his memory will live after him.

We salute his commitment, his forthrightness and his fearlessness. He was totally dedicated to fighting for a better life for the people of our country, particularly the poor and the marginalised. The youth of our country can take an enduring example from those traits of Peter Mokaba.

May the roaring voice of our Young Lions keep its strength as we build South Africa into the country Peter Mokaba fought and lived for.

Hamba Kahle, Peter!

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Acquisition method: From hard drive ; Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation Prof J Gerwel. Accessioned on 04/02/09 by Razia Saleh




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