Nation has lost one of its giants
COULD this herald the end of a historical epoch?
The end of the epic era of the fearless warriors who once walked the width and breadth of our land armed with moral conviction and formidable courage to break the chains?
Our wish and duty is to ensure that the passing of the gallant fighter and leader Nontsikelelo "Mama" Albertina Sisulu, the matriarch of the peoples' movement, the ANC, should not in any way symbolise the closure to the political narrative of the South African liberation struggle.
It is our responsibility to pick up the baton left by this great stalwart and complete the race she has ran for the total emancipation of our people.
It is the greatest honour we can bestow on a leader of MaSisulu's stature.
She was one of the dedicated leaders of the ANC. She led and served the organisation with humility. Organisational discipline and unity was close to her heart.
She understood the centrality of the principle of collectivism underpinned by discipline as a necessary ingredient in the survival and growth of the organisation.
Though independent of thought she never sought populism by acting against the collective voice of the organisation. Even in times of leadership contestation within the ranks of the organisation she preached unity and discipline and remained as such even if the vote was not in her favour.
She knew that it was not about her but the furtherance of the organisational objectives irrespective of who held the reins of leadership. It is such a high level of political consciousness that we should all strive for and emulate.
As the first woman in the ANC to be incarcerated in 1963 under the 90 Days Act, the notorious Detention Without Trial piece of apartheid legislation, she never sought fame or entitlement within and without the organisation.
She continued to work quietly as a professional nurse, serving our people who were maimed and killed by the brutal forces of apartheid regime.
MaSisulu never saw herself as above others in terms of social standing because of her professional position in the community.
In fact, she saw herself as the operative of the movement called on to serve her people. Without fail she always went out of her way to help the poor, feed the hungry and give solace to the desperate. She was very accommodative, warm, loving and embraced every child as her own.
It is her tolerance and compassion that made it easy for her to engage with people of different social stratum and even political persuasion. As a result of her nature, MaSisulu was able to strike a healthy working relationship with Dr Abubaker Asvat whose ideological outlook was different from hers.
In spite of such opposing perspectives, they worked together because they understood that theirs was to serve and liberate the oppressed masses. It is this kind of level-headedness, discipline and focus that distinguish her from others.
As we call for selflessness, discipline, commitment and the renewal of organisational values among the cadres of the movement, we are reminded of the sacrifices of this selfless woman, the embodiment of these virtues, the matriarch, who ungrudgingly gave us her family which in turn made all of us her family.
Indeed, she was the "mother of the nation". The nation has lost one of its revered giants.
She was not only a matriarch but a source of strength and inspiration to all whose inclination is freedom, justice and democracy.
So as we celebrate a life lived in full, the journey travelled with grandeur, we must pause and reflect what lessons we can draw from MaSisulu's world. A world full of love and compassion.
So we can in turn learn to love one another unreservedly; conduct ourselves with dignity and discipline at all times; work to build the organisation that is people-centred and people-driven as she did; work to build a society that is caring and sensitive; and learn to serve without expectations of any material gain.
I believe that this is the greatest gift we can ever give in honour of her legacy.
Lala ngoxolo, Mama. We will always miss you.
- The writer is Gauteng premier