These are difficult times in our revolution and the departure of Isithwalandwe Baba Andrew Mlangeni is shaking the foundations of our resilience. On a daily basis, our people falling by the wayside and their passing is so rapid and sudden that we do not even have time to mourn properly. Over the last two weeks, we have had to say farewell to our leaders in the movement and our frontline workers because of the deadly Covid-19 and other illnesses.
To rub salt to the wound, we are now paying homage to the last standing stalwart of the Rivonia trial generation, the pathfinders. We grieve for the last of the defiant ones.
This is a generation that shook the foundations of the apartheid regime and exposed it for the farce that it was. They courageously defied it and stripped it of its veneer of invincibility.
They impressively remained calm in the face of threats to their lives and their personal freedom. They were unshaken in the face of a death sentence.
Baba Mlangeni together with other seven drew a line in the sand and said enough was enough, and they made it clear that they were ready to pay the ultimate price for our freedom.
Today, it is with tears in our eyes and pride in our hearts that we pay our last respect to you Seaparankwe Tata Andrew Mlangeni.
In the face of a ravaging pandemic, we are reminded of the spirit of resilience and survival that has seen this country navigate the worst of times. We are proud and inspired to be the descendants of such brave men and women. In our hour of need, we know that we can summon from the grave the spirit of survival and courage that has seen this nation survive the tyranny of apartheid, bloody killings, and takeover of our land.
We want to say a loud Thank You to you Tata and to all your compatriots who have left us such a glorious legacy.
Despite your advancing years, you left when we were still not ready to let you go as the movement. We had hoped to have another chance to imbibe from your wisdom. We had hoped to have one more chance to use your invaluable experience to navigate these difficult times. We salute you for having generously given us your guidance as a movement in these trying times.
We pledge to continue in your honour to push ahead with the work of helping the people’s movement to reflect and self-correct. Your unwavering loyalty to the movement remains an inspiration for us all. It is this rich legacy that will propel us forward as we ensure that the leader of society does not betray its mandate.
As you depart to join other luminaries of our movement, we want you to relay our revolutionary greetings to pioneers like Josiah Gumede, John Dube, Pixley KaSeme, Sol Plaatjie, Dr Xuma, JB Marks, Moses Kotane, and Chief Albert Luthuli. Take our messages to the likes of Oliver Reginald Tambo, Chris Thembelike Hani, Bram Fischer, Onkgopotse Tiro, Steve Bantu Biko, Joe Slovo, Solomon Mahlangu, Harry Gwala, including Mama Nomzamo Madikizela Mandela, Mama Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu, Mama Emma Mashinini, Mama Lillian Ngoyi,and other women of our struggle.
As you take your place at the special table of other Rivonia trialists amongst Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Goven Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Dennis Goldberg, Elias Motsoaledi, Ahmed Kathrada, tell them that their ANC is still standing.
Tell them that their organisation is trying hard to shake off selfish and foreign tendencies like political assassinations. Please tell them that greed and corruption are threatening to derail the National Democratic Revolution.
Tell Solomon Mahlangu that his blood indeed nourished the tree of our political freedom. Inform the 1976 generation that the young people of this country have fought and partially achieved free education. The struggle for land is still ongoing, despite some setbacks.
The tripartite movement is still standing and despite some obstacles, it has not forgotten the commitment it made to the people, of providing them with proper housing, education, decent and affordable healthcare, and proper jobs.
But tell them that economic emancipation remains an elusive dream for millions of poverty-stricken workers. The legacy of apartheid still lingers on. The moral degeneration that was fostered by this oppressive and evil system has led to an outbreak of gender-based violence. Despite all these obstacles, we are undeterred because we are born of fearless heroes and heroines.
We are saying farewell to you with sorrow and pride at the same time. Tata Mlangeni, you showed us that we can fix our problems and the differences that exist amongst us should not force us to repudiate our own history.
As COSATU, we commit to honouring your great legacy by ensuring that our own trade unions do not become appendages of the property-owning classes. We shall continue to fearlessly pursue our struggles for the emancipation of the working class and ensure that we remain a leading social force for political change in our country.
We shall preserve the historic Alliance and unite it, so that it can gain strength to lead our country and the people to achieve economic emancipation.
May Your soul rest in peace!