Item 1405 - Joe Modise Obituary

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ZA COM MR-S-1405


Joe Modise Obituary


  • 2001-12-08 (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 Joe Modise

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  • English

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More and more we are walking this sad route as we come to bid final farewells to the heroes and veterans from an older generation of freedom fighters and patriotic revolutionaries: a generation of men and women who literally gave all of their lives to the struggle for freedom in our land.

Today we come to bury one such comrade. Joe Modise virtually had no life outside of the liberation struggle and the liberation movement. He was a young man when the atrocities of apartheid moved him to active militancy against racial discrimination and oppression. Since then he never looked back and spent his entire life in active service of his people and country - first as a combatant and leader in resistance to apartheid, and latterly as one of the builders of the foundations of our non-racial and non-sexist democracy.

I have had the privilege of a long association with Joe Modise. In fact, my memories of him always serve to remind me how I had to be educated out of political backwardness towards an understanding of political alliances.

Joe was almost always with me when we set about opposing the communists and breaking up their meetings. Then already he was a fearless young man, ever ready to do combat. Eventually we both progressed to realise who our true allies were.

And I know Joe would want me to remark on the remarkable leadership qualities of those men whom we so vehemently opposed at first, and who managed through reason and argument to show us the light. Leaders like Moses Kotane, J B Marks and Dr Dadoo were very astute in never criticising in public the likes of Joe Modise and myself. Kotane, for example, would invite me home and engage me in direct talks in which I could not rely on grandstanding emotion and rhetoric. Joe, too, was persuaded in this manner to change his mind and recognise our true allies.

It was that openness to persuasion and progress that equipped Joe Modise to play the numerous roles he did in shaping the future of our country.

His name will remain synonymous with Umkhonto we Sizwe on whose high command he served since its formation. Our liberation army will always hold a place of honour in the history of liberation armies the world over. Like our mother body, the African National Congress, it was one of those rare occurrences where a freedom movement was not seriously weakened by decades of exile. On the contrary, the ANC as well as its armed wing grew in stature and focus to win recognition and respect throughout most parts of the world.

The role of Joe Modise in building MK, first underground at home and later in exile is well-known to all with an interest in the history of our liberation. Today we come to salute a soldier, a commander, a hero of our struggle.

What makes the life of this freedom fighter and soldier even more remarkable is that when the time for negotiations and the making of peace arrived, he was once more in the forefront. He was amongst the first group of negotiators at the time of the Groote Schuur talks.

I had no hesitation in appointing Joe Modise as Minister of Defence in the Cabinet of our first democratic government. He was such an obvious choice for the position and the manner in which he performed his duties fully vindicated the decision to appoint him.

His legacy as Minister of Defence in the government of national unity will live on in the shape and content of our National Defence Force. He was responsible for overseeing the integration of the various statutory and non-statutory forces - reflecting the divisions and hostilities of our past - into one single, loyal and patriotic national defence force. The success of that process is there for all to see, and it stands to the credit of Joe Modise, a combatant for peace.

We wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to his wife and family. We mourn with you today and hope that you take some consolation from the knowledge that so many of us share in your sense of loss.

I feel highly privileged to have known and to have worked closely with Joe Modise. His sense of commitment and service to the people was of the highest order. We pay our highest tribute to him.

Hambe kahle, Joe.

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Acquisition method: From hard drive ; Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation Prof J Gerwel. Accessioned on 02/02/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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